MODERNE CITRINE AND GOLD NECKLACE, BROOCH, AND BRACELET SUITE BY TRABERT & HOEER-MAUBOUSSIN, NEW YORK, CIRCA 1940
A suite of jewelry composed of a necklace of graduated rectangular-cut citrines terminating at a central point, with a removable brooch pendant of similar rectangular-cut citrines in the form of a tied ribbon, the bracelet with similar citrine ribbons surrounding a large prong-set center citrine
- Bracelet and pendant/brooch signed Trabert & Hoeffer, Mauboussin, Reflection
- Inner circumference of necklace: 14 4/5 inches; height of brooch: 4 2/5 inches; inner circumference of bracelet: 6 1/2 inches
- cf. de Cerval, Marguerite. Mauboussin. Paris: Editions du Regard, 1992, p. 166.
- cf. Markowitz, Yvonne J. et al. The Jewels of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin. Boston: MFA Publications, 2014, plates 19 & 24.
From the mid-1930s through the early 1950s, the collaboration of the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer with the Parisian house Mauboussin resulted in some of the most extraordinary high-style jewelry of its time. The firm had shops in New York City, the resort towns of Atlantic City, Miami, and Palm Beach, as well as Hollywood where stars such as Marlene Dietrich appeared on-screen and off flashing historic gems mounted in diamond-studded settings. Its best-known invention was the Reflection line of jewelry crafted from interchangeable parts based on the latest Parisian designs. These ornaments, typically made of gold and colored stones with diamond highlights, were bold, sculptural, and daring. The Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin collaboration came to an end in 1953.
The Reflection line of jewelry, which Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin promoted as “Your Personality in a Jewel,” was the brainchild of Howard Hoeffer who introduced it in 1938. It was advertised as uniquely American although Hoeffer and his designers attended the 1937 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne where they were influenced by the Machine Age aesthetic exhibited by leading houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, and Mellerio. The bold Moderne ornaments created for the Reflection line were three-dimensional and typically made of 18-karat gold, a metal promoted as acceptable for both day and evening wear.
From an economic standpoint, the Reflection line was a savvy response to the constraints imposed by the Depression and World War II as THM was able to assemble one-of-a-kind and limited-edition ornaments efficiently by using interchangeable design elements that were cast rather than hand fabricated. Clients could participate in selecting elements for the design. The firm also encouraged potential customers to modernize or “reflectionize” their outdated jewelry and surviving drawings indicate that many clients provided all or part of the stones for a given jewel. While several upscale firms such as Marcus & Co. did not survive this challenging era, THM prospered as the company was quick to adapt to the needs and desires of their clientele.
While the Reflection line included simple adornments, such as patriotic charms, THM also produced elaborate, high-end jewelry as part of the series. This suite from the latter category consists of a spectacular bracelet and necklace with a removable centerpiece that can that can also be worn as a brooch. The multi-use aspect is characteristic of the firm’s finest jewels as are the voluminous, scrolling ribbons. The suite is unique in that the neck and wristband as well as the ribbons are set throughout with rectangular-cut citrines. More typically, Reflection designs were made of high-polished gold set with occasional gem highlights. Adding to the drama of the suite is the bracelet’s extraordinary rectangular-cut citrine whose hard geometry is offset by the asymmetric, fluid lines of the ribbons. This suite is a rare an important example from Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin of a complete convertible suite of jewelry displaying the bold Moderne style of the Reflection series.
— Yvonne Markowitz, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator Emerita of Jewelry, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
e necklace without the pendant is an elegant ribbon of graduated citrines meeting at a central pentagonal stone.