Georges Lenfant was an exceptionally skilled jeweller who produced some of the finely wrought jewellery for the Maison in the Place Vendome from Mellerio dits Meller to Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels. His work manufacturing for these well established brands has led to him become a somewhat overlooked hero of the 20th century.
Jewellery Maker Profile: Georges Lenfant
Art Moderne Jewellery
Lenfant grew up in the trade, with an extensive education in Paris and abroad. He trained as an apprentice before entering the Cartier workshop. In 1900 he established his own workshop at 47 Rue des Petits-Champs: a stones throw from the illustrious Place Vendome and Rue de la Paix. By 1903 he was listed in an edition of ‘Revue de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie Orfevrerie’. Yet it was not until 1909 that he registered his own maker’s mark. He continued to manufacture and sell through the well established Maison. Van Cleef and Arpels and Mellerio dits Meller carried his mark and are recognised as the originator of much of his work.
In 1927, Gustave-Roger Sandoz sold his firm to his friend Lenfant with the proviso that his son, Gerard, continue his role as Creative Director. Together with Gerard, Lenfant produced an enormously broad and high quality series of Art Moderne jewellery.
Georges’ son, Jacques started his career when still a child. In 1915, at only 11 he joined his father in the workshop. Jacques inherited his father’s prowess in handling precious gems and metals. He cultivated a particular fondness for gold and throughout the post war period he produced a series of woven gold bracelets that have become the Lenfant’s signature.
In 2003 the firm was bought by Bouder. Lenfant pieces, particularly those produced by Jacques Lenfant in the 1960-70s continue to be highly collectable with high prices on the secondary market.
Lenfant pieces are characterised by unfaultable quality workmanship. Together with Gerard Sandoz, Lenfant produced highly original designs integrating striking colour combinations, strong lines and bold contrasting shapes.
In the post war period, Jacques Lenfant continued to pioneer, building upon his father’s legacy within the jewellery industry. As his father before him, Jacques was unafraid of collaboration. He maintained partnerships with Van Cleef and Arpels, Cartier and Mellerio dits Meller as well as building new links with big names in the industry. After buying the workshop of Verger Freres, Lenfant produced a series of watches with Vacheron Constantine (whom Verger previously worked closely with) for Hermes in 1950s.
The Tissu Milanais
The Tissu Milanais bracelet is an iconic piece of goldwork designed by Jacques Lenfant. The broad flat bracelet combines simplicity with intricacy. The woven gold has been pressed to create dramatic contrasts in textures, on both the inside and outside. Further subtle detail is created by the mix of matte and polished finish in this piece.