American jeweler best known for 1950’s and 60’s figural jewelry featuring freshwater pearls. In 1947, William Ruser and his wife opened a boutique on Rodeo drive. Ruser had previously worked for Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin in Atlantic City and Los Angeles, managing the LA branch in the late 1930’s.[1] While keeping traditional diamond and precious gemstone merchandise in stock, the Rusers’ specialty was baroque, freshwater pearl jewelry. In the 1930’s, Ruser had bought several shoeboxes full of these oddly shaped, American pearls from a button manufacturer. Freshwater pearls had been relatively unpopular at the time. Though Art Nouveau jewelers used them liberally to embellish their pieces, jewelers in the 1920 and 30’s did not follow suit. In the late 1940's and throughout the 1950's, Ruser helped to change this. In the vanguard, along with Verdura and Seaman Schepps, the Rusers created swans, hummingbirds, poodles, skunks, as well as demonic looking cherubs with freshwater pearl accents. Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, business boomed; Hollywood starlets proudly wore his pieces both on and off screen. In 1969, Ruser closed up shop, selling its location to Van Cleef & Arpels. [2]

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Pair of Ruser Yellow Gold and Pearl Golf Pins. Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.



  1. Healy & Proddow, 166
  2. Misiorowski, no page number.

Sources Consulted

  • Proddow, Penny & Debra Healy. American Jewelry: Glamour & Tradition. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.
  • Misiorowski, Elise. "Freshwater Fantasies." Professional Jeweler Magazine (1999).

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