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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

High Jewelry Collection Represents 400 Years Of Family Ownership

This complex, open-work necklace from the Medici collection required what the jewelers described as "new articulation systems" to ensure its beauty and comfort.

The Parisian high jewelry house, Mellerio dits Meller, has spent 2013 celebrating a landmark for longevity that is rarely, if ever, achievable. The luxury jeweler, whose client list over the centuries includes nearly all of European royalty, has been operating under the ownership of the same family for 400 years.

A gold corsage tops this brooch where emeralds and pearls move freely.

It is considered to be the oldest jeweler in the world and the oldest family-owned company in Europe. It has the original books and paperwork to back up those claims in its rich archives, which are kept in its 9 Rue de la Paix boutique and workshop.

The Medici diamond tiara.

The firm, now owned and operated by the 14th generation of the same family, specializes in hand-made jewelry, almost all of it created on premise. The company was founded by the Mellerio family in 1613 in the rural region of northern Italy that borders Switzerland. It was created because of an act of royalty. Specifically, Marie de’ Medici, Queen of France, granted special privileges to the Mellerio family by royal decree, which allowed the family firm to trade throughout much of Europe.

The same diamond tiara shows its versatility by converting into a necklace.

The family began trading in Versailles in 1777, where it attracted the patronage of its most famous client, Marie Antoinette. In 1796, the firm moved to Rue Vivienne, Versailles, retaining the patronage of the Empress Josephine. The firm then moved to Paris eventually settling at 9 Rue de la Paix.

Medici Lush emerald ring

The company opened a second shop in Madrid in 1850 to service the Spanish royal family, including Queen Isabella II. It has a long close relationship with the Dutch Royal Court. It also operates in Luxembourg and Japan.

Medici Lush eight-flower ring

To celebrate its milestone the company created a high jewelry collection named after its founding patron, Marie de’ Medici, which represents the grand history of the royal jeweler.

To create the Medici collection, the family looked into its past using its archives. They also invited well-known jewelry designer, Edéenne, a Canadian native who now works in Paris. She created modern interpretations of jewelry inspired by the old drawings.

The result is a collection of pieces inspired by nature that are sensual, complex and at the same time easy to wear. There are openwork pieces and items made with “grey” gold. There are pieces that are rough in texture, recreating an antique feel. And of course there’s a tiara. In this case one that converts into a necklace, which harkens back to 19th Century jewelry usage.

The company also released a book, in French, chronicling its history, Mellerio dits Meller: Joaillier des Reines, by Vincent Meylan, published by Éditions Télémaque.

I will be writing more about this remarkable company in the coming year.

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