His subsequent downfall seems all the more shocking, but his optimistic nature and determination ensured that his story remains imbued with glamor, intrigue, and beautiful creations. Herewith, a brief summary of the jewelry and the rather incredible career of Paul Flato.
Elizabeth Bray describes a particularly imaginative piece designed by Headley in her book on Paul Flato:
His designs were often theatrical and conceptual. One piece that he created was a necklace of particularly romantic design. The giver of the necklace would write a love letter on a sheet of gold, the jeweler would then “tear” the sheet into fragments and assemble them on a chain. The receiver of the necklace could reassemble the pieces together to read the original letter.1
Elizabeth Bray notes:
Both men liked the shocking use of color and nontraditional subjects, and both were social and charming. Flato, like Verdura, was intrigued by religion and the supernatural. Both men liked to use angels, mythological and astronomical imagery in their designs, and both appreciated a sense of humor and whimsy in jewels. Verdura’s pieces had such cachet and presence that Flato began to market them “Verdura for Flato.”2
Surprisingly undaunted, Flato returned to Mexico for the last chapter of his remarkable career. Opening a store in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa section in 1970, Flato continued to design remarkable jewels for the next twenty years, many of which referenced Mexico’s indigenous culture and Flato’s love of exuberant color combinations. In 1990 at age 90 Flato retired to Texas to be near family and friends. He regaled them with tales of the jewelry he created, the famous stars and clients he adorned and all the illustrious (and not so illustrious) places he had lived until his death on July 17, 1999.
Maker’s Marks and Timeline:
- New York
- Designers included Adolph Kleaty, George Headley and Fulco di Verdura
- Whimsical Jewelry “Say it in Jewelry”
- Beverly Hills Location Serving Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and others
- Mexico City
- Bray, Elizabeth Irvine. Paul Flato: Jeweler to The Stars. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collector’s Club, 2010.
- Proddow, Penny & Debra Healy. American Jewelry: Glamour & Tradition. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.
- Proddow, Penny, Debra Healy & Marion Fasel. Hollywood Jewels: Movies, Jewelry, Stars. New York: Harry N.Abrams, Inc., 1992.