Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cuffing hell! Boucher and the 1950s ear cuff.

Tonight's Evening Standard, a local free daily tabloid I pick up on the way home to occupy me on the dull commute, has today included a fashion article about ear cuffs.  An apparently futuristic jewellery trend that reminds them of Star Trek.  Silly billies.

The "luxe cuff" as they are calling it, presumably to separate it in the fash packs minds from those little metal Celtic things we all wore in the 90s, has in fact, been knocking about since the 1950s and were the signature design of jeweller Marcel Boucher.


The Boucher brand really began in 1937  but before this Marcel was gaining valuable experience working for Cartier.  In 1936 though, he left the company and started out on his own.  He specialised in costume jewellery - fashionable items rather those designed to be a show of wealth - and used three dimensional naturalistic designs.  These were just want the public wanted, after years of Art Deco (though how one can tire of Art Deco I cannot imagine) and success was swift.

Naturalistic peacock demi parure


However it was really post-war - with the advent of the New Look that Boucher really came into his own.  Heavily influenced by his future wife Sandra, a fellow designer, whom he had lured away from rival jeweller Harry Winston he started designing elegant parures which went so well the heightened femininity of the Dior look.

A harlequin parure

Their designs were widely copied and much coveted but the Bouchers kept there business on the small side, preferring to stay involved with the manufacture and design of the products rather than becoming a big brand like Trifari.  This enabled them to keep their designs fresh for a while however as the more simplistic looks of the 60s approached, they found their elaborate rhinestones were falling out of popularity.

Sandra briefly left to work for Tiffany but was not happy, returning to the fold soon after and marrying Marcel in 1964.  Sadly Marcel fell ill shortly after their honeymoon and died only six weeks later.  Sandra kept the business going until 1970 but then sold up as keep the company afloat was difficult alone.

Bees on honeycomb pin, Sandra's design from the mid 60s

You can often find 50s ear cuffs on the usual auction and sales site but they are often an investment at around $75 a pair.  They really are stunning pieces of 1950s fashion history however and add an elegant touch to a polished evening outfit.

Currently on Etsy:

blue rhinestones

White rhinestones


Boucher style stars (these are most likely a modern copy)


5 comments:

  1. Those Boucher stars are gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love them but have just been advised that they may be a copy. Have marked as such in case anyone decides to buy. I like the blue ones best. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! I've never seen these! Thanks for sharing:D Now I kind of want a pair... uh oh.

    <3 Sara

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, how interesting! I can't say that I could see myself wearing them (I'm shuddering just recalling my long dangley silver feather earrings with attached ear cuff I wore once upon a time), but they really are gorgeous pieces of jewelry!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I had no idea these existed before now. That's incredible. Heading over to ebay right now.

    ReplyDelete