René Sim Lacaze was one of the most important jewellery designers of the 20th century. He was born René Lacaze in Paris during the summer of 1901 and was immersed in artistic beauty from a very young age. While growing up, he spent a lot of time with his mother in her dressmaking studio and often went to visit museums with his uncle. René discovered his passion for jewellery when a family friend would narrate his stories on the extraordinary gemstones and jewels that he had encountered in his life as a jewellery trader.
René started a four-year training course at Atelier Mentel, a Parisian workshop collaborating with famous jewellers such as Cartier, Boucheron and Janesich. At the age of 20, he had to interrupt his training to complete his military service, where he became the cartographer. He returned to Paris eager to continue his career in jewellery. Eventually René was hired by Van Cleef & Arpels, where he became the artistic and design director in 1926.
In 1928, in honour to his newlywed wife Simone, René decided to add the first syllable of her name to his own, and from that moment he was referred to as René Sim Lacaze.
He and Renée Puissant, the daughter of Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef, formed a formidable artistic partnership. In their thirteen year collaboration, Art Deco’s iconic pieces came to life, including the Minaudière, the Ludo bracelet and the most famous of all, the innovative Serti Mystérieux. Suggested by the Duchess of Windsor in the 1930s, the Zip necklace was one of their avant-garde creations. Together, René and Estelle were able to turn imagination into reality and forged a creative heritage which endures to this day.
This extraordinary venture came to an end due to World War II. René Sim Lacaze later joined Mauboussin, while in parallel, he started working for himself. He was commissioned by numerous prestigious jewellery houses, such as Cartier, Harry Winston and Sterlé.
René Sim Lacaze was indisputably one of the greatest jewellery designers of the 20th century. He passed away on January the 5th, 2000, at the age of 99, leaving behind beautiful and inspirational designs.
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