Théodule Bourdier was born in Paris in 1837 where he was both schooled and then apprenticed to a jeweller. Whilst little detail is known of his early years in business, his shop address is listed as 24 rue du 4 Septembre and 8 rue de la Michodière and by the 1870s he was established enough in his own right to exhibit at the Paris Expositions alongside established and well-known names such as Boucheron, Mellerio, Fontenay and Vever. Surviving jewels from this period show classic designs, finely crafted and very much in keeping with the fashionable styles of the second half of the 19th century. Diamond bracelets, floral spray brooches, chatelaines and pieces with a distinct Renaissance revival theme. In 1872 he married Marie Griffeuille whose sister Alice would, two years later, marry Alfred Cartier, son of Cartier founder Louis-Francois and father of the three brothers Pierre, Louis and Jacques. During the 1870s and 80s the firm won various awards and gold medals for their jewels and Bourdier is listed as having purchased a couple of lots in the sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887. In 1891 he was one of the first jewellers to sign up to take part in the French Exhibition in Moscow where he would present the Empress with an enamel Easter egg as a gift. Soon after this he was off to Chicago to exhibit there, taking a wide selection of jewels to show to potential American clients, some of which showed a distinct Art Nouveau aesthetic. Théodule passed away at the end of the 1890s and his widow Marie continued the business in order to pass it onto their son Georges. He carried on until his death in 1923 when the name was bought first by Berlioz Leroy and then by Paillette who traded under their own name for a few years before bringing the Bourdier name back. There are some striking and significant Art Deco jewels from the 1920s and advertisements of the period list the address as 18, rue de la Paix, only a few doors away from Cartier at number 13. Whilst the company did not endure in the way many of its contemporaries have done, there can be no doubt that for a period of time they produced some wonderful jewels and were a celebrated name in Parisian fine jewellery.
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