In 1936 Fred Samuel opened his eponymous jewellery boutique on Rue Royal, Paris. Born in Buenos Aires, he moved to France when only 16 years old to study the craft of jewellery making. His keen eye for high quality stones and inventive settings soon attracted a glittering array of clients from Paris’s thriving arts scene: from painters, musicians and writers.
Jewellery Maker Profile: Fred
Passion for Gems
“I knew that the brilliance of the stones I loved so much would help me to make my way in the world”. Samuel’s innate passion for gems might have been born in childhood, his father had been a gem dealer in Argentina.
At the outbreak of Word War Two, Fred Samuel joined the Foreign Legion. He continued to operate his workshop but during the Occupation he was forced to drop his surname, leaving the brand simply as Fred. He also had to show a yellow star of David in the window enforced by the Jewish Affairs General Commissariat. By 1942, he attempted to leave the oppressions of Paris for the free zone. He was arrested and did not return to Paris for three years.
In the post war period, the list of his famous clients included Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Hutton and Grace Kelly. In 1962 Fred collaborated with the inventive maverick, Jean Cocteau to make a gold medallion. Manufactured by Fred, Paris the 18k yellow gold disc is decorated with Cocteau’s distinctive Greco-Roman style drawings. Six faces are outlined in gold wire and arranged around a six pointed star.
Expansion and Modern Times
In 1976, Fred established a branch in Monte Carlo. Ever attracted to, and capable of attracting the fashionable and famous, Fred soon became official supplier to the Royal House of Monaco. Princess Grace and her daughter Caroline attended, and were suitably impressed, by the opening of Fred’s second atelier in Monte Carlo.
In 1980 Fred Joaillier expanded across the Atlantic, to New York City. Ten years later, in 1990 the brand become synonymous with style and luxury in America with a special commission for the film ‘Pretty Woman’. The ruby and diamond necklace given by Richard Gere to Julia Roberts in the mouth-watering blue velvet box, is now iconic. Having immortalised the $1m necklace on the screen, a rubellite version of the heart necklace is still produced and available to purchase today by Fred Joaillier.
Today Fred Joaillier is part of the Luis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) group, and has opened additional branches in Cannes, Bogota, Dubai, Tokyo, and Bejing,.
Fred described: “My creations are inspired by my life, light, movement and energy”.
Fred was also inspired by the sea, with pearls featuring heavily in his designs. Always ahead of the trend, Fred was one of few fine jewellers to embrace Japanese cultured pearls into Paris.
In 1966 Fred’s son, Henri, who joined the family business, designed what is now one of Fred Joaillier’s most iconic collections, ‘Force 10’. Inspired, like his father before him, by the sea, Henri experimented with unorthodox materials. Using woven steel yachting rope to create a simple bangle with a large nautical style gold buckle clasp.
Thanks to Fred’s keen eye for gemstones, the house has acquired and set some exceptional stones. Of these is a 105.54ct yellow diamond known as the Soliel d’Or, and an impressive 275ct Ceylon sapphire set in a diamond tiara.