The Antique Heritage of Seaman Schepps. Seaman Schepps was born in 1881 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Stories have it that the Seaman’s Bank for Savings, visible from his mother’s hospital window, was the inspiration for his name. As a young boy, Seaman Schepps worked various odd jobs. He later became a traveling salesman, making his way cross country to Los Angeles where in 1904 he opened his first shop and soon married. In 1914, he relocated to San Francisco and opened “The Virginia Studios” a store named for his first daughter, Virginia Jane. After his younger daughter Patricia was born, the family returned to Los Angeles where he again opened for business.
The Schepps family returned east in 1921
Seaman Schepps opened on 6th Avenue around the corner from the Algonquin Hotel in the heart of New York City. Many of his clients were patrons of the arts and theatre and stars of the stage and screen. Due to the stock market crash in 1929, Schepps lost everything including his newly built shop at 1066 6th Avenue. The shock of this loss led Seaman Schepps to a turning point. In re-thinking his business strategy he decided to develop exclusive designs mixing unique ideas, bold colors and sharp textures. In 1934, he opened his doors on Madison Avenue and was well on his way to being known as the most innovative American jeweler of his time.
While on a trip around the world
Mr. Schepps was so enamored with Hong Kong that he delayed the rest of his tour to stay for three months. There he discovered unlimited resources which could be adapted to extraordinary jewelry creations like diamond drop earrings. From rough branch coral to lawn ornaments to elegantly carved ivory chess pieces, Schepps was inspired by everything that crossed his path.
In the late 40s
The powerful, novel designs of Seaman Schepps came into their own. America, with a new sense of wealth and style, craved the splendid, sensational sophistication that became synonymous with the Schepps name. Broad shoulder pads were the distinctive mark of the times, and haute couture begged for bold new designs to display the extravagance of the era. The huge luscious pieces Schepps created were the natural complement.
With a visionary sense of distinction
Schepps blended the unexpected — marrying diamonds, precious metals and man-made materials, choosing his media brilliantly to create a splendid palette of tone and hue. Through this unparalleled experimentation, Schepps pioneered a unique style of jewelry whose sense of splendor offered a new perspective to the world of fine jewelry.
His client list included President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Duchess of Windsor, and members of the Du Pont, Mellon and Rockefeller families. By serving these most powerful and influential individuals, Schepps became known as “America’s Court Jeweler.”
The Journey to an Antique Jewellery Legacy
When Seaman Schepps passed on in 1972, he left behind a legacy of truly innovative and elegant antique design concepts. Since his death, the appreciation of his work has grown, elevating it to a new plateau. Many renowned art collectors, notably Andy Warhol, and Joan Quinn. And Holly Soloman has become aficionados of Schepps’ work, collecting it as works of art. The rebirth of Seaman Schepps, on 58th Street and Park Avenue in New York City Ensures. That the splendor and singular style of this jewelry. And art will continue to be appreciated by the collectors and clients. Old and new, of yesterday, today and tomorrow
After Schepps’ death in 1972
Patricia Schepps Vaill continued to make jewelry. Like the diamond drop earrings in her father’s style, often using elements from pieces he had designed. Vaill developed a new look in jewelry aimed at appealing to a younger clientele.
After twenty years at the helm of her father’s company. Vaill retired and passed the baton to Jay Bauer and Anthony Hopenhajm. Who has continued to produce jewelry in the unique Schepps style? Over the last 16 years. Bauer and Hopenhajm have added new pieces to the classic collection. And opened new shops in Palm Beach and Nantucket. Bringing Schepps’ characteristic whimsy to a new generation of admirers.
Today’s designs draw on the Seaman Schepps archives which contain over 5,000 detailed jewelry renderings and 650 molds. The pieces created in the workshop continue to be made with cutting-edge methods. And inventive and unusual materials like the diamond drop earring class. The flagship store on Park Avenue at Fifty-eighth Street continues to attract socialites. Movie stars, royalty and trend-setters who are drawn to Schepps’ innovative use of exotic materials.