Raymond Yard’s jewelry career began in 1898 when, at the age of 13, he began working for the well-known New York firm of Marcus & Co. By 1922, Yard had acquired sufficient skill, knowledge and clientele to open his own firm. For nearly 40 years, he presided over the firm that bore his name and continues to perpetuate his legacy today. His jewelry epitomized understated elegance and reflected the styles of the times in which it was made. Accordingly, his clientele included many legendary families of the early 20th century, such as the Rockefellers, Fleischmanns and Flaglers. Yard was intimately involved in every piece of jewelry that carried his name and expected perfection in the final product. With such limited production, high quality groups of pieces by Raymond Yard rarely come up for auction.
Providing a brief survey of Yard’s work, the following bracelets come from one family’s collection. The sapphire and diamond example, conceived around 1930, was one of Yard’s most popular designs. Due to the prohibition of using platinum and the decline in the importation of precious stones brought about by World War II, the moonstone bracelet set in yellow gold exemplifies his work of the 1940s. The ruby and diamond straightline bracelet from the 1950s alludes to his work in the Art Deco period.
Raymond Yard’s jewelry was renowned for its extraordinarily detailed workmanship and use of high-quality stones. The two brooches offered here showcase such work. The floral brooch with its ribbon-like metalwork and sculptural appearance demonstrates Yard’s attention to the jeweler’s craft. At the center is an unheated Burmese sapphire of over 35 carats, a rare stone in its own right made even more spectacular in such a piece of jewelry. The rabbit represents perhaps Yard’s most well-known design. First executed in the late 1920s, the firm’s rabbit brooches were whimsical, charming pieces, in which detail was paramount. This particular piece may have held personal appeal to Raymond Yard himself, as he was an avid fisherman.
Since first opening its doors in 1922, the firm of Raymond Yard has had an exalted place in jewelry design, making pieces that adorned many of the leading American families. Yard’s work reflected and helped inspire the fashions and styles of the times and continue to inspire today.