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The firm of Paltscho was founded in Vienna Austria in 1899 by Ernst Paltscho who had trained under his father Karl. He soon established himself and began attracting the attention of a diverse group of clients including Austro-Hungarian aristocracy and the Greek Royal household. In 1914 he partnered with Emil Biedermann and they moved to new premises in the First District, the centre of Vienna, trading as Biedermann & Paltscho.
Ernst’s son Erwin joined his father in the business in 1918 and felt strongly that they should be independent, they separated from Biedermann soon after. In 1922 Paltscho moved again to new premises at Am Graben 14 and after Ernst’s death in 1929, Erwin carried on the business alone. The company produced finely crafted pieces of jewellery that were influenced by the aesthetics of the Art Deco period and were frequently inspired by the natural world. Motifs including flowers, leaves and fruit were beautifully carved in a veritable rainbow of colourful hardstones as well as being painted into reverse carved rock crystal before being set in gold. Deep purple amethyst, pale pink rose quartz and bright red corals all lent their hues to a stylish array of bracelets, brooches, earrings and rings.
The firm exhibited at fairs both in Europe and further afield in New York which exposed them to an ever increasing clientele. During the 1940’s and 50’s they continued to produce the carved gemstone floral jewellery for which they were now famous but, reflecting the mood and fashions of the period, they became more sculptural with an increase in the use of yellow gold. Another trademark of Paltscho’s jewels was their excellently fashioned clasps which would be cleverly concealed within the design of the piece. The jewellery was a source of inspiration to Erwin’s contemporaries and he was regarded as a designer at the very vanguard of Austrian artistic style and development.
A particularly charming example of a carved gemstone brooch in the form of a bonsai tree formed part of the famous Hull Grundy collection of jewellery that was donated to the British Museum in 1978 where it remains on display. The name Paltscho might not be as widely recognised today but jewellery connoisseurs still collect and appreciate the craftsmanship and appeal of these attractive jewels.