‘Paul Flato, Jeweler to the Stars’, by Elizabeth Irvine Bray

April 18, 2012 | No Comments

Influenced by the Red Carpet walk at the recent Grammy Awards, I was determined to read the book “Paul Flato, Jeweler to the Stars’. Because it reads like a novel to me I have to share it with you.

Wow! What a collection, What a life! What a book! Elizabeth Irvine Bray succeeded in creating a book that sucks you in from the first pages into the life of this enigmatic artist, Paul Flato.

He was the most famous American jeweller of his era, with many famous Hollywood actress and others among his clientele. But his life was not only fame and glory. As Elizabeth quotes, “Flato also endured extreme hardship. He faced prison time, financial ruin, failed marriages and personal disappointment. His highs and lows, successes and failures, create a story that resonates with anyone”.

The book contains an enormous amount of beautiful gouache sketches of eccentric jewels with wonderful photos of the marvelous jewels, pictures of famous Hollywood actresses wearing his pieces and good photos of the hallmarks he used.

Together with the immense content, described in great detail and including historical facts and many quotes, the identity of Paul Flato becomes clearly visible. In short, it is a portrait of a charming, socially fluid and remarkable business man (understanding very well the value of branding and surrounding himself only by highly-skilled people), designer, autodidact pearl and gemstone specialist, who came from a good family and loved to travel all over the world.  With a true love for adventure, experiencing local cultures and using folk art and other inspirations, he translated his experiences into new jewellery designs. He had a life filled with good fortune and unfortunately also bad luck.

Flato’s jewellery was featured in many movies, among others his first film, “Holiday”, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  Looking at all the images, the most remarkable thing for me about his collection is that it does not consists only of highly elegant expressive show-off jewels set with the most beautiful gemstones, but also many intimately designed jewels. Clearly, all his pieces were made with outstanding craftsmanship. His Los Angeles period was his most impressive professional phase, but his Mexican period produced beautiful jewellery, as well.If you would like to see more jewels of Flato, visit at the online database of V& A , the Victoria &Albert Museum, London. Remember to type his name again in the search box and other jewels of Flato will be returned in the result.

This book is by far the most exciting jewellery book I ever read (ISBN 9-781851-496242, $85), one that will not even touch on your nightstand before it’s finished!

Let’s hope for a revival of Paul Flato jewels!

Flato’s jewellery was featured in many movies


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Margriet Sopers

Margriet Sopers, FGA

Having a diploma in jewellery, FGA and a propaedeutic of the Academy of Art followed-up by interesting years as a jewellery expert at Sotheby's & Gemeentelijke Krediet Bank, as well as being a member for years of the Society of Jewellery Historians, I am glad to share with you today's world of jewellery.

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