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Little is known about the French jeweller André Vassort, which is so often the case with the craftsmen and workshops behind the famous Maisons of the Place Vendôme. All around Paris, tucked away in discreet buildings, skilled and highly creative master craftsmen work anonymously for their high profile clients.
One such building was 34 Rue Sainte Anne, where André Vassort set up his workshop, Atelier Vassort, registering his business and maker’s mark in December 1955. He quickly became one of the most recognised and sought after manufacturers of high quality French jewellery in the mid 20th Century. Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Mauboussin, amongst others, trusted him not only with creating their own fine jewels but also with special commissions for clients. Frequently these clients would include Royalty of both the West and East as well as Hollywood legends. A particular creation of note is the spectacular emerald, ruby, pearl and diamond crown made on behalf of Van Cleef & Arpels for the coronation of Empress Farah of Iran.
He specialised in working with gold and drawing out warmth, movement and texture from the metal but also worked in platinum and across the board in terms of gemstones. His workshop grew to be one of the largest in Paris and alongside his loyal and experienced craftsmen he also employed apprentices. One of these recalls starting at the bench at just 17 years old and spending years learning from experts ‘in the pure artistic tradition’.
Much of his jewellery would never have been marked so will remain ‘unknown’ to all except those who made it. However sometimes his mark appears alongside the signature of one of his famous client’s and occasionally it is seen on its own.
When Louis Gérard left Van Cleef & Arpels to start his own company M. Gérard in 1968, he chose to use his former employer’s workshop to create his jewellery. Over the next twenty years, Vassort would produce some spectacular jewels for Gérard whose pieces are often noted for their superb manufacture.
The Atelier closed in the early 1990’s but not before establishing itself as one of the most important manufacturers of French jewellery of the mid-late 20th Century. Whether you see it on a Boucheron bracelet, a Van Cleef & Arpels sautoir or a pair of Vassort earclips, the mark of André Vassort is a mark of quality craftsmanship and fine jewellery.