Jewellery Maker Profile: Vever
Rue de la Paix
Despite this success and driven by the annexation of the Alsace and Lorraine Provinces as a result of increased territorial conflict during the Franco-Prussian war, Ernest moved his family and business to Paris in 1971. Having relocated to Rue de la Paix, Ernest established a good reputation. He successfully made and sold high quality jewellery in the popular ancient revivalist style.
The Art of the Jeweller
In 1881 Ernest retired, leaving the business in the hands of his two well trained sons, Paul (1851-1915) and Henri (1854-1942). Henri had a particularly strong passion for jewellery. He studied both at L’Ecole de Arts Decoratif and Ecole Nationale de Beaux-Arts. Under the leadership of the two brothers Maison Vever grew further. In 1876 the brother’s registered the firm’s maker’s mark and by 1889 they entered the International Exposition for the first time to much success. The brother’s were awarded the Grand Prix for their exhibit. A reporter commented on Vever’s display: “The art of the jeweller is also demonstrated in … [their] juxtaposition of contrasting stones, such as an array of diamonds, as rare for their variety of colours as their flawlessness requires of the jeweller total restraint in the ornamentation of their settings. Mm. Vever’s display offers an exquisite illustration of this process”.
Over the next few years, Maison Vever continued to enter the touring international expositions, from Moscow in 1891, Chicago in 1893 and Brussels in 1897. By 1900 the exposition returned to Paris, and Maison Vever again won a Grand Prix for their innovative jewels in the then exploding Art Nouveau style.
In 1900 Maison Vever, relocated to the more spacious setting of No. 14 Rue de la Paix allowing their workshop and showroom to be adjacent. Paul died in 1915 and Henri retired in 1921 leaving the business in the hands of his nephews, Andre and Pierre.
Vever is now perhaps best known for their unique and whole hearted embrace of the Art Nouveau style that swept through fin de siècle Europe. A large and beautifully enamelled pendant called ‘Sylvia’ embodies the essence of the movement and showcases the Maison Vever’s skill and imagination.
The pendant depicts the bust of an elegant woman, or nymph. ‘Sylvia’ is dressed in a diaphanous dress that flutes out below and beside her figure in the bejewelled pattern of butterfly wings. The wings are delicately enamelled in yellow and intricately set diamonds and mother of pearl. Atop her head she wears a fantastic diamond encrusted hat echoing the sinuous tendrils of antennae. The exceptional piece is now preserved in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.
Original and Spectacular
Jewellery Historian, Vivienne Becker succinctly described Vever’s jewels as: “Original and spectacular, full of the verve, imagination and dreamy quality of the best Art Nouveau work”.
The Maison Vever’s successful embrace of the style was led by the passion and expertise of Henri Vever who wrote a comprehensive history, in three volumes, of the period in French jewellery entitled, ‘La Bijouterie Francaise au xixe Siècle”.