The New York jewellery firm Ostier was founded in 1938 by husband and wife Oliver and Marianne Ostier who had emigrated from Austria earlier that year.
Oliver was a third generation Austrian court jeweller whose family business Oesterreicher had supplied jewels to royalty and aristocracy for many years. Marianne had trained at the Vienna Academy of Arts and Crafts and was a painter and sculptress however after marrying Oliver she began to explore the world of jewellery design. Her artistic influences shone through in her work and one of the last pieces she designed for Oesterreicher was the beautiful and unusual diamond tiara for the marriage of Queen Geraldine and King Zog I of Albania.
Following the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938, the couple changed their surname from Oesterreicher to Ostier and moved to America. Here they set up in business together and opened their jewellery manufacturing and retail premises at 5 East 57th Street in New York City. With the wealth of knowledge and experience they already had, coupled with Marianne’s striking designs featuring organic textures, bold form, and an appreciation of asymmetry, the new firm became very successful. During the 40s, 50s and 60s it was renowned as one of the most fashionable contemporary jewellers in Manhattan.
Marianne Ostier’s designs won her wide acclaim not only from customers but also from the industry. She won the Diamond U.S.A. Award for three consecutive years, the DeBeers Diamonds-International Award for design excellence and she was the first life-time member elected to the Diamonds-International Academy. She exhibited her jewels alongside Salvador Dali and Georges Braques (amongst others) at the Art in Precious Jewellery Exhibition at the Finch College Museum of Art in 1966 where she represented the United States.
Marianne wrote a book entitled ‘Jewels and the Woman – The Romance, Magic and Art of Feminine Adornment’ which was a guide to the art of wearing jewellery and was published in 1958. When Oliver passed away in 1967 Marianne continued the business alone for a couple of years but by 1969 was finding that the demands of running the business coupled with designing the jewellery was too much for one person. She said “With the passing of my husband, I have had to devote more and more of my efforts to administrative duties. These demands of my time can no longer be met without artistic compromise which to me is unacceptable.”
Ostier closed in September 1969 and two months later in November the auction house Parke-Bernet Galleries sold the entire inventory in a specialist sale.