The Parisian jewellery firm of Debacq traces its origins back to 1812 when Raymond Sabe first set up in business manufacturing and trading gold jewellery. In 1838 Raymond handed the business to his nephews Félix, Victor and Pierre Eugène who joined with Sincie Debacq (the husband of Sabe’s neice) and the firm, now called Debacq & Sabe, moved to 29 rue Royale Saint-Martin.
In 1851 Debacq separated from the Sabes and traded independently whilst still maintaining a commercially collaborative relationship with Victor and Pierre Eugène who was a talented goldsmith. After eight years of working solo, Debacq decided to once again join forces with Pierre Eugène Sabe and together they vastly expanded the scope of the firm which was now established on the rue Réaumur. However the partnership was not to last and in 1868 Debacq bought out his partners and later that same year established a new association with his sons-in-law, Victor Peyret and Camille Batcave.
The newly styled ‘Debacq & Cie’ were now swiftly moving towards the period that would see their greatest success. They were manufacturing a wider range of jewels than ever before and specialising in jewellery set with ‘brilliants’ including rings, earrings, brooches and ‘parures de mariage’. Keen to reflect the current fashions, they produced a variety of diamond-set floral jewels, many set en tremblant from reasonably modest spray brooches to dramatic devant de corsage pieces that would command attention from across a room. As was typical of much fine jewellery of the late 19th Century, their jewels were often convertible and a peak inside the velvet lined cases would often reveal a range of fittings that would enable a piece to be worn in a multitude of ways. Around this time the company is believed to have been employing twelve diamond polishers alongside the jewellery workshops and sales offices.
Late in the century they relocated to 105 Boulevard Sebastopol and began to embrace the Art Nouveau style alongside their more traditional diamond set jewels. They used more yellow gold and coloured gems and produced a range of stunning pieces using colourful enamels. They combined the techniques of plique a jour enamelling and ‘en tremblant’ setting to create wonderfully life like insects such as a dragonfly brooch with translucent, lacy wings that fluttered when worn.
When Debaqc passed away,Victor and Camille were joined in the business by Victor’s sons Eugène & Marcel. They continued as Debacq, Peyret & Fils Successors but, along with many others companies, endured a more challenging time after the War. Businesses slowed, and with the increase in income tax and change in consumer purchasing the orders were simply not as forthcoming as they had been.
Debacq gradually reduced its activity and when Marcel Peyret passed away in 1925, it left his brother Eugène to carry on alone as Peyret & Cie. However he could not re-create the level of success the company had once enjoyed and the firm did not survive the Second World War. It was revived in 1960 by Eugène’s son André but in a different guise focused on dealing, particularly in gold jewellery, before it was finally sold in 1980. Today the firm of Debacq is best remembered for creating some of Paris’s most beautiful jewels of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.