Yard Jewellery, New York
The firm of Raymond C. Yard of New York was one of the leading names in the 1920s and 1930s, catering to the elite of American high society, including the Rockefellers, Fleischmanns, Flaglers, and Woolworths.
Yard’s career began in 1898 when, at the age of 13, he began working for the well-known New York firm of Marcus & Co. He set up his own firm on Fifth Avenue, New York, in 1922, at the suggestion of John D. Rockefeller Jr (a client of Marcus & Co). His jewelry epitomized understated elegance and reflected the styles of the times in which it was made. Yard was intimately involved in every piece of jewelry that carried his name and expected perfection in the final product. With such limited production, high quality groups of pieces by Raymond Yard rarely come to the market.
Yard worked until 1958, when he retired; the firm was continued by three of his employees, Glen McQuaker, Donald Bartow, and Robert Gibson. McQuaker and Gibson had both been golf caddies for Yard. The firm is still active, and is currently run by Robert M Gibson, who took over from his father.
One of Yard’s iconic designs was his anthropomorphic rabbits charms. First executed in the late 1920s, the firm’s rabbits were whimsical, charming pieces, in which detail was paramount. Below is a selection of four, showing the skill and creativity of Yard’s goldsmiths. The waiters appeared toward the end of the 1920s, a subtle protest to Prohibition.
A superb example of Yard’s work is this piece, a bracelet featuring five superb natural-colour sapphires, and over 300 mixed cut diamonds. The stones are of the highest quality, and it would have taken a long time to assemble five matching sapphires of this grade. Typical of Yard, it uses both round brilliant and baguette cut diamonds. The use of two or more types of diamond in a piece is a signature of Yard’s, as he aimed for an overall harmonious feel to the piece, rather than it having a sharp brilliance. Each section of the bracelet moves gracefully, and it sits beautifully on the wrist.