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Seaman Schepps at Somerset House (preview)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION tracing the development of one of America’s most innovative 20th century jewellers, Seaman Schepps (1881-1972): America’s Court Jeweller, runs from June 9 to August 27, 2007, at Somerset House.

Seaman Schepps was born in 1881, the son of immigrants who lived on New York’s Delancey Street. He opened his first jewellery shop in 1904 in Los Angeles and eventually made his way back to New York with stores on Madison Avenue.

From 1930 to the late 1950s, his clientele included Coco Chanel, the Duchess of Windsor, Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell. He also received commissions from many White House families, which led The Washington Post to dub him “America’s Court Jeweller”.

Although Schepps used precious stones such as diamonds and rubies, his work became as well known for his innovative use of natural materials such as seashells, sandalwood, walnut, and carved rock crystals.

These materials were as important to him as precious stones and as such, were afforded the same care and devotion. In fact, craftmanship was always a primary consideration in his work.

Schepps was also interested in Asian art which led him to incorporate Asian design into his works.

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