Raymond Yard Inc.
1922 to Present Day
Raymond Yard Art Deco Diamond, Sapphire, Rock Crystal and Enamel Jabot Brooch.
Photo Courtesy of Christie’s.
Raymond Yard Aquamarine and Diamond Brooches.
Photo Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
A distinguishing design feature of Yard jewelry was the extensive use of mixed-cut and single-cut diamonds in his pieces. Yard aimed for an overall luminous elegance rather than a sharp brilliance; a look that did not overwhelm the design. Although he followed the design motifs of the time, this technique distinguished his style from that of other well-known jewelry firms such as Tiffany & Co. and Cartier.
Another characteristic that personified Raymond Yard was his generosity and his scrupulous dealings with his customers, employees, and suppliers. Attesting to this, he was honored on the tenth anniversary of his company by a gift of a large engraved clock given to him by seventy-three of his suppliers, manufacturers and gem dealers. The doors were inscribed:
A token of our Esteem and Appreciation for Your Many Fine Deeds 1922-May 5-1932.1
Iconic Raymond Yard Cocktail Rabbit with Articulated Ice Bucket Handle.
The first house brooch was introduced in 1932 and by the 1960s, well to do clients were bringing in photographs of their homes to be turned into exquisite jeweled replicas. The most elaborate of these was an astonishing reproduction of Cee Zee Guest’s lavish Villa Artemis in Palm Beach.
As the 1930s progressed into the 1940s, the prevailing design preference moved away from shield shapes into curvilinear designs with folds of ribbons and scrollwork. Dress clips were no longer ascendant and many more single brooches were being worn. Calibré-cut stones were less utilized in the newer curvilinear shapes particularly as precious stones were in sparse supply during the war years. This scarcity also manifested itself in inventive designs that now featured large areas of unembellished metal. The most marked change of these years however, was Yard’s extensive use of yellow gold and a new array of colored stones such as topaz, amethysts and moonstones. During this period, Yard’s attention shifted from the design influences of Cartier to the newly prominent firm of Van Cleef & Arpels. The most noticeable example of this was the small group of “Southern Belles” that were produced in direct reference to Van Cleef & Arpel’s iconic ballerina brooches.
Raymond Yard Diamond, Ruby, Opal and Enamel Dapper Bird Brooch.
Raymond Yard Emerald, Diamond, and Yellow Gold Bracelet.
The limited supply of precious stones and the shift to yellow gold, as a result of World War II, led to an extensive use of less traditional stones such as moonstone, colored sapphires and amethysts. Moonstones accented by colored sapphires were particularly popular in a unique yellow gold Yard “buttercup” flower design, which centered a moonstone surrounded by smaller colored sapphires or rubies.
As the Fifties progressed, platinum and diamond bracelets were again in favor as were simpler gold and diamond bracelets. Yard bracelets in the Sixties were primarily made in yellow gold and placed a greater emphasis on individually mounted stones. Modern Yard bracelets are based on the classic designs of the 1920s, often reinterpretations of the traditional line and geometric link bracelet.
Raymond Yard Diamond and Ruby Ear Clips.
Photo Courtesy of Christie’s.
As the 1950s arrived, many of the earrings Yard produced were of the popular snowflake design, centering a larger center stone encircled by stone accents. Many of these earrings looked like smaller versions of their brooches and often they could double as a pair of dress clips. The era also saw the continued modification of the “up-lobe” design that became more elaborate as a double-ribbon loop that extended both above and below the central stone. While most designs were executed in platinum, yellow gold ear clips continued to be made throughout this period with their diamonds mounted in platinum.
The 1960s and 1970s continued the design trends of the Fifties but with drop earrings making a larger comeback as well. Current day designs reflect a preference for the more elaborate drop earring designs of the Twenties.
Raymond Yard Art Deco Ruby, Diamond Ring.
During the war years of the Forties, palladium was substituted for platinum in many of their cocktail rings and Yard, as part of his war-time contribution, launched a line of relatively inexpensive diamond rings featuring a diamond center stone under a carat, with two small side diamond accents. Needless to say, these proved quite popular with the servicemen of the time. Yellow gold rings of the period featured a variety of large sized colored stones, including moonstone, citrine and amethysts set in bold, tailored settings. Joan Crawford’s step-cut amethyst ring of approximately seventy-five carats is a wonderful and famous example of this trend.
Collection of Raymond Yard Rabbit Brooches.
Maker’s Marks and Timeline
- Messenger at Marcus & Co.
- Took jewelry making classes at night and trained at Marcus & Co. during the day.
- Began to string pearls for Marcus & Co.
- Promoted to Salesman working his way to General Manager
- Established his own firm.
- Created his own distinctive style.
- Raymond Yard retired. He turned the firm over to 3 of his employees.
- Moved the firm to 580 Fifth Ave.
- Introduced baguettes set with claws.
- More French mountings used.
- Classic Yard styles and new styles made the firm prosperous.
- Abstract designs, metal featured.
- Firm taken over by Robert Gibson Jr. (son of one of the 3 Yard employee successors.)
- Kuzmanovic, Natasha. Yard: The Life and Magnificent Jewelry of Raymond C. Yard. New York: Vendome Press, 2007.
- 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.
- The Raymond Yard Website: www.raymondcyard.com