The Iconic Jewels of Verdura

The Iconic Jewels of Verdura

Discover the legend behind the treasures beloved by generations of glamorous devotees around the world.

Discover the legend behind the treasures beloved by generations of glamorous devotees around the world.

Verdura, Topaz and Colored Gemstones Maltese Cross Pendant Brooch (Lot 191). New York Jewels: Online Auction.


Stunning pieces from the house of Verdura feature in our NEW YORK JEWELS: ONLINE AUCTION from 22 to 29 November. View auction.


Verdura, which opened in 1939 at 712 Fifth Avenue in New York City, was founded by Fulco Santostefano, Duke of Verdura (1898 – 1978). An Italian nobleman with magnetic personal charm and superb taste; Fulco’s iconic designs have been cherished by some of the world’s most fashionable people. From the start his fans included royals such as the Duchesses of Windsor and Marlborough, Countess Mona Von Bismarck, Princess Grace of Monaco along with the greatest film stars of the time, including Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Marlene Dietrich. One piece even featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Suspicion. Many enjoyed making Fulco’s designs integral components to their signature styles — Diana Vreeland, the Astors and Vanderbilts, and Jackie Kennedy. Babe Paley was Fulco’s good friend and muse. Cole Porter and Vincent Astor were his financial backers. He knew everyone, it is said; and the natural ease of his creations took the beau monde by storm.

Verdura, Pair of Citrine and Wood Earclips (Lot 188). Verdura, Pair of Topaz and Wood Earclips (Lot 184). Verdura, Pair of Nephrite and Aventurine Quartz Earclips (Lot 34). Verdura, Pair of Emerald and Lapis Lazuli Earclips (Lot 183). New York Jewels: Online Auction.

Fulco was born into an eccentric noble family in Palermo, surrounded by sumptuous Italian luxury. Early inspirations were drawn from the elaborate, aristocratic splendor of his family’s palazzo alongside his fascination with Renaissance art. He’s also been noted as saying his eye for color developed inside the many costume soirees, he attended throughout Europe in the 1920’s.


Verdura, Enamel and Gemset Maltese Cross Charm Bracelet (Lot 190). New York Jewels: Online Auction.

From Italy, Fulco went to Paris and through the roaring twenties, he mingled with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Diaghilev, Niki de Gunzburg, Daisy Fellowes, and the Rothschilds. In 1925, a serendipitous introduction to the wildly successful Coco Chanel led her to bring the young artist on as a textile consultant and, subsequently, as her head of jewelry design. The two got on beautifully. Becoming close, they travelled together in 1930 to see the mosaic of the Byzantine Empress Theodora in the Chapel of Ravenna. He envisioned in its warmth and color an alternative to the Deco diamond-and-platinum jewelry style popular at that time. It was for Chanel that he created his most notable design — the Maltese Cross — an alluring emblematic symbol glittered with color that calls to mind medieval history. For years, it became part of her signature personal look. She wore two such bangles — one on either arm — nearly every day.

Verdura, Diamond and Lapis Lazuli Ring (Lot 189). New York Jewels: Online Auction​​​​​​​.

The house of Verdura flourished for decades. Fulco continued to create and collaborate with some of the most notable figures of the 20th Century, including “Jeweler to the Stars” Paul Flato and legendary Surrealist Salvador Dali. With his keen eye for color and bold designs, he created many iconic pieces, some of which include his puffed wrapped hearts, roped knot motifs and gem-studded shell jewelry. Since 1985, owners Ward and Nico Landrigan have continued to keep Verdura’s artistry alive, drawing from the designer’s extensive archives and original sketches. His exquisite treasures remain among the most coveted.


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