Louis Aucoc made an important contribution to the history of Parisian jewellery not only with his beautiful pieces but also with his tireless work in service to the trade.
He was born in 1850 into a family of renowned gold and silversmiths who had first set up business in 1821. His father had taken over the running of the business, situated in the Rue de la Paix, in 1854 and had expanded it to focus more on jewellery, both gem-set and artistic. Louis assumed management of the firm during the 1870s and it was at this point that the future Art Nouveau master Rene Lalique apprenticed with the firm for two years from 1876-8. When he was 27 Louis purchased the established firm of Lobjois and consolidated the businesses under the name La Masion Aucoc. He soon built a reputation as a jeweller and craftsman of high regard and whilst the jewellery was not necessarily the most innovative in design the quality of craftsmanship was exemplary. The firm participated in many of the major international exhibitions where Louis’s work was greatly admired. His contemporary Henri Vever referred to him as being “…as talented in gem-set as artistic jewellery, he has created exquisite pieces…” and also acknowledged the part his “admirable personal qualities” had played in his success.
Aucoc joined the Conseil de la Chambre Syndicale de la Bijouterie-Joalerie-Orfevrerie in 1880 and the following year became its secretary, by 1895 he had been appointed Chairman, a position he was continuously re-elected to until he retired in 1907. He applied himself to the role with great dedication and as Vever noted, “The participation of our industries at all the Expositions was guaranteed by Aucoc, who almost invariably served as Chairman of the Admissions Committee or of the Prize-Giving Jury.” He also acted as judge to the Tribunal de Commerce as well as dedicating himself to the trade’s charitable works. These, along with his other activities, ultimately earned him not only the Légion d’Honneur which he was awarded in 1889 but also the Rosette d’Officier in 1900.
In 1900 Louis’ younger brother André assumed control of the business and the emphasis of the company gradually reverted back to silverware. Louis Aucoc died in Paris in 1932 having left an indelible mark on both Parisian fine jewellery and the trade itself.