Leopold, Jacques, Jules and Fernand Lacloche were not born into the jewellery trade, their father was in the textiles business, but between them these four brothers ensured that the name Lacloche became synonymous with some of the most exciting jewellery of the 20th Century.
The history of Lacloche is somewhat convoluted because prior to the founding of the firm responsible for the fabulous Art Deco jewels and objet we associate with the name today, the brothers had various companies and shops both in France and Spain dating back to 1892. However it was after the tragic death of Jacques in a train crash in 1900 that the remaining three brothers appear to have consolidated their finances and re-grouped in Paris to form Lacloche Frères and settle at 15, Rue de la Paix in 1901. They selected only first class pieces for their shop, working with some of the best designers, workshops and suppliers in Paris and building the reputation of the Lacloche name. When the London jeweller Edwin Streeter retired in 1904, they acquired his stock which included the historic and quite magnificent rose pink Agra diamond although they didn’t keep this long, deciding instead to auction it at Christies the following year.
By 1908 there was a total of seven European store locations including Madrid and London, business was clearly going well and the brothers were quick to capitalise on that. Beautiful jewellery and timepieces were being made at this time including a pendant watch that was the result of a collaboration between several exceptional craftsmen – Lalique, Verger, Vacheron Constantin and the enameller Paillet. Keeping up with the fashionable trends was important for business but so too was commercial appeal and it is interesting to note that pieces from this period adhere more to the mainstream diamond and gem set designs than the more daring Art Nouveau styles of the time. In 1917 Lacloche bought the remaining stock of Fabergé’s London store after the jeweller’s wealth and assets were forcibly repatriated by the Russian government. Three years later the son of the deceased Jacques, who was also called Jacques, was entrusted to run the business in London having been trained by his uncles, in particular Fernand.
Over the next decade or so the company really comes into its own producing arguably some of the finest and most creative jewellery, clocks and ladies accessories of what will become known as the Art Deco period. From tiaras, diamond bracelets and colourful gem set jabot pins to mother of pearl inlaid clocks and vanity cases, fabulous examples of all different genres were sold by Lacloche Frères. Inspired by the East and a variety of motifs from Chinese and Japanese art and culture their jewelled cigarette cases, necessaires and other fashionable accessories were made in a wide variety of decorative materials, shapes and designs and are among some of the best of the period. They exhibited at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Art Décoratifs to great acclaim, winning a Grand Prix for their display of fabulous jewels including a range of pendants and bracelets inspired by the classic fables of Fontaine.
Sadly the crash of 1929 affected the firm terribly as it did many others and they were forced to close, retaining only a showroom in Paris after filing for bankruptcy in 1931. Jacques Lacloche opened a small concession in the Carlton Hotel in Cannes in 1936 before returning to Paris and opening a shop at 8, Place Vendome under the name SARL Jacques Lacloche. He remained here until the early 1960’s selling bold, brilliant jewels to a discerning clientele including Prince Rainier for whom he created a wonderful sapphire and diamond brooch as a wedding gift for Grace Kelly.