Verdura: The Life and Work of a Master Jeweler is a romantic tale that reads like a who's who of the early and mid-20th century. Fulco de Santostefano della Cerda, born in Sicily in 1892, was much more than a jeweler. He was a pleasure-loving aristocrat who became Duke of Verdura in 1922 and belonged to the jet-set society for whom he created his unique jewelry. Although he died in 1978, a whole new generation is discovering Verdura, and the house is "hot" again. Many Verdura designs are well known and recognizable at first glance: Chanel's Maltese cross cuffs, exotic animal pins, and jewel-encrusted shell compacts, in stunning combinations of precious and semiprecious stones. The sea was one of the most frequently recurring themes in Verdura's work.
Composer Cole Porter and his wife, Linda, discovered Verdura while honeymooning in Palermo, Sicily. Up to that point, Verdura had been living a life of leisure, even though his family's fortune was much diminished. The Porters recommended him to Coco Chanel, who discovered his talent when she asked him to make some jewelry to go with the simple clothes she designed. Verdura next migrated to America, where he thrived on the West Coast, among Hollywood's glitterati, but soon realized that "movie people like to wear things from N.Y." He left Hollywood behind and settled in New York, where he established his Fifth Avenue salon with Cole Porter's help. Verdura continued to operate the establishment until his death.
This magnificent coffee-table book is not only for fine jewelry fans. History buffs will also enjoy the story of one of the leading Renaissance men of the 20th century. Vivian Kelly