Verdura, Coco Chanel and the Iconic Maltese Cross Cuff Bracelet
by Simon Teakle on August 1st, 2009
Born in Sicily in 1898, Duke Fulco di Verdura is without question one of the most important jewelry designers of the 20th century.
Characterized by large, boldly colored gemstones, and with a taste for gold settings and natural forms- such as animals, seashells and flowers- Verdura’s designs first manifested themselves in brilliant watercolors. Only later, were these sketches transformed into magnificent bespoke jewelry.
Verdura’s designs never conformed to the trends of the time: diamond jewelry, usually set in platinum. He boldly created his own designs, which have influenced generations of jewelers ever since.
It was this non-conformism that first impressed Coco Chanel, who was introduced to him in Venice in 1925. Chanel, already at the height of her fame, recruited Verdura on the spot, commissioning him to create her boutique jewelry line and to redesign many of the important pieces in her own jewelry collection.
In 1934, a year after opening a workshop in New York City, Verdura crafted a cuff bracelet that was built around a Maltese Cross given to Chanel by Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia. The Maltese Cross became one of Verdura’s most celebrated motifs and helped to propel Verdura into the spotlight. By the late 1930s, Hollywood starlets, including Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo, as well as aristocrats, such as the Duchess of Windsor and Countess Mona Von Bismarck, amongst many others were clamoring for his jewelry.
Today, Ward Landrigan, the CEO of Verdura, has updated the Maltese Cross cuff with a more modern and comfortable design. Betteridge just received the first of the newly designed cuffs to leave Verdura’s New York workshop in citrine, black jade and gold, as well as citrine, cocobola wood and gold. The cuffs are a spectacular tribute to Duke Fulco di Verdura’s impressive career.