Rene Boivin was born in 1864. After training as a goldsmith’s apprentice in his brother’s workshop, he established a jewellery business under his own name in 1890. Having gained a reputation as a skilled draughtsman, goldsmith and metal engraver, Rene registered his own makers mark in 1893. From his workshop at 38 Rue de Turbigo, Paris, Rene began producing fine jewellery with a group of skilled employees, for more established jewellery firms, such as Mellerio and Boucheron.
Jewellery Maker Profile: René Boivin
1890 was an important year for Rene for another reason. In that year Rene married Jeanne Poiret (1871-1959). Jeanne was the sister of the famous couturier, Paul Poiret. Together, the couple continued to build Rene’s business. With Jeanne’s encouragement Rene producing more pieces for private clients; moving away the firms reputation from manufacturer to maker. They also had three children: Pierre, Suzanne and Germaine.
By 1900 the business had expanded, requiring a move into larger premises. At 27 Rue des Pyramides, Boivin acquired spacious reception rooms to receive the growing number of private clients, as well as the necessary workshops.
In 1917 tragedy struck: Rene and Pierre both died prematurely. The suddenly deaths of both male family members could have called the closure of Maison Boivin. However, Madame Boivin (as she became known) continued her husbands legacy successfully. Jeanne’s eye for style, savvy understanding for business and full book of fashionable contacts thanks to her brother, gave the Maison Boivin a new lease of life.
Madame Boivin was innovative in her choice of female designers when the industry was male dominated. In 1921 she hired the talented young Suzanne Belperron. In 1932 Belperron left after a disagreement. Madam Boivin hired Juliette Moutard to replace her.
Avenue de l’Opera
The year before this change of head designer, Maison Boivin relocated again to Avenue de l’Opera. In 1938 Germaine Boivin joined her mother in the now female run family business. Germaine began her career designing for her uncle. Over the next two decades together with Juliette Moutard, the three women built a loyal client base in fashionable circles creating unique designs.
In 1954 Madam Boivin retired, leaving her daughter Germaine at the helm until 1979 when she too retired. With no family to continue the business, Germaine looked to sell. A buyer was found in the technical Director, Jacques Bernard. In 1991 the company joined the Asprey Group.
Beacon of Modernism
Maison Rene Boivin might have been named after its male founder, yet thanks to the industrious vision of Madame Boivin, her daughter and the female designers, the firm stands as beacon of modernism. The distinct Art Deco designs created by Suzanne Belperron, Juliette Moutard and Germaine Boivin continue to dazzle.
Suzanne Belperron’s inventive use of rock crystal and creamy chalcedony make her designs instantly recognisable even if non were signed.
Juliette Moutard’s designs were often inspired by nature. Her starfish earrings and brooches have become iconic of the Maison. The actress Claudette Colbert commissioned one in 1936.
Belperron and Moutard
Floral motifs were reimagined by Maison Boivin into highly stylised leaves and blossoms. Cabochon stones spaced individually in a crazy paving design have become synonymous with the name Boivin. As did bold geometric rings, carved rock crystal bangles set with diamonds, and elegant swirling wing clips that curved up the earlobe. A renowned pigeon wings brooch was designed by Juliette Moutard in 1938.
Boivin merged bold silhouettes with a subtle colours such as chalky chalcedony, quartz or jade. Inspired by Egyptian, Assyrian and Etruscan jewellery, Boivin set a trend for rigid torque necklaces worn around the throat.
Boivin pieces continue to be highly collectable and valued as exceptional examples of 20th century Parisian Fine jewellery.