Gemstone “Rio” Bracelet by Seaman Schepps, New York, circa 1952
A flexible bracelet featuring large claw-set pink tourmaline, aquamarine, and emerald, connected by hinged tutti frutti-style segments set with sapphire, ruby, diamond, and emerald; mounted in 14-karat gold
- Signed Seaman Schepps
- Measurements: 7 ¾ x 1 ¼ inches
Phyllis McGuire of the McGuire Sisters
Zapata, Janet, and Amanda Vaill. Seaman Schepps: A Century of New York Jewelry Designs. New York: Vendome Press, 2004, p. 48.
An American jeweler famous for bold retro style pieces with colorful assemblages of stones, Seaman Schepps was a self-made entrepreneur and a self-taught jeweler. Born in New York in 1881, he owned antique stores in California and New York before opening a Madison Avenue store in 1934 where he became popular for his unique and colorful assemblages. Known as “America’s Court Jeweler,” his clients included Rockefellers, DuPonts, Mellons, and the Duchess of Windsor.
Seaman Schepps was known for using irregular cabochons, a technicolor palette, and seemingly haphazard placement of stones that resulted in a charming and whimsical jewel. During the 1950s Seaman Schepps was at the height of popularity. In 1947, Christian Dior introduced his New Look featuring broad shoulders and a nipped in waist over a full skirt. The look quickly took off, influencing fashion all over the world. Schepps’s playful jewelry perfectly complemented these exaggerated silhouettes with their bold scale and bright colors.
The 1950s in America were marked by a booming postwar economy, a baby boom, and massive growth in suburbia and spending money. Televisions became something the average family could afford, and on Sunday nights, the entire family would gather around to watch The Ed Sullivan Show to see popular singing groups, including many appearances by The McGuire Sisters who sang sweet songs with gentle harmonies. It was around the time that the sisters signed with Coral Records in 1952 that lead singer Phyllis McGuire purchased this exceptional Rio bracelet from Seaman Schepps.
This stylish bracelet features oversized pink tourmaline, aquamarine and emerald. The stones are tumbled and show the wonderful characteristics of each natural stone. Schepps added gem-encrusted gold hinges that featured uniquely cut stones in varied combinations of emerald, ruby, sapphire, and diamond that bring to mind the popular Art Deco and midcentury tutti frutti designs. A variation of this bracelet was also owned by gallerist Holly Solomon, a famous Warhol subject. The exceptional scale, color, and construction of this jewel reflects the abundance and joy of the 1950s and remains an iconic, wearable bracelet today.