“My Style is My Signature” is a powerful statement by the woman who boldly left her mark in jewelry history: Suzanne Belperron. She is a #PowerWoman for a number of reasons.
First, for her fierce talent in creating “new and barbaric” designs that were groundbreaking in 1934. Belperron’s audacious, sculptural genius is to jewelry what Coco Chanel is to fashion.
Second, we celebrate her for discreetly protecting jewish people during the Nazi occupation in Paris. On one occasion she saved Bernard Herz, whose company B. Herz she began exclusively designing for in 1932. Bernard sold the company to her in 1941, to safeguard and keep the business going. In November 1942, both were arrested. Suzanne was released, but Bernard was later killed at Auschwitz in 1943. Not only did she act on his wishes to take care of his friends, she swallowed pages from an address book of clients when she was arrested, to prevent the Gestapo learning identities and addresses of Jewish clients. When Bernard’s son, Jean, returned to Paris in 1945 after five years as a POW, Suzanne offered the business to him without condition. In gratitude and in deference to her artistry and knowledge of the business, Jean made her a partner, founding a new firm: Jean Herz-Suzanne Belperron SARL.
Cathrine Another of Suzanne @Belperron’s contributions during the war was the medal she designed for General LeClerc’s 2nd DB (2nd Armored Division).
While the liberation of Paris was August 19th - 25th 1944, today we observe VE Day, May 8th 1945 - marking the formal acceptance of Allied victory ending World War II in Europe.
In 1963 Suzanne Belperron received the rank of Knight of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order of military and civil merit, for her career as a jewelry designer.
She retired in 1974, having created 3,000 - 5,000 jewels throughout her career and an archive of over 9,200 gouache paintings and designs - many of which were never made. Thankfully, a collection of her original jewels and this precious archive are preserved, along with new jewels signed “Belperron”, at the Belperron salon in NYC.
Photo Credit: The French Second Armored Division of General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque on the Champs-Élysées by Jack Downey, US Office of War Information. “Stars and Stripes” newspaper is the work of the U.S. federal government in the public domain.