Famous celebrities like Ashley Judd, Oprah, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Gargo and Joan Crawford were among the clients that were captivated with Verdura’s jewelry designs. His style was whimsical yet still elegant. Fulcodi de Verdura was the jeweler of “high society” in the nineteen thirties.
In his early years, Verdura lived at his grandmother’s prestigious country mansion. Like other children, he played with his sister and friends. He was known to romp at a nearby beach and play in the massive grounds of the country mansion. There were many animals on the grounds and Verdura spent a great deal of time with them. He was surrounded by art and culture and 4,000 books in the mansion’s library. He was engulfed with many paintings and antiques on the premises.
He received a very small inheritance at the death of his grandmother which required him to get a job. He joined the army but was sent home with a shoulder injury.
He lived the life of a playboy when he inherited the Dukedom at the age of twenty three. He attended parties with artists and royalty in Palermo. His artistic talents were noticed by Linda Porter, the wife of composer Cole Porter and became motivated to leave for Paris hoping to become an artist.
Coco Chanel noticed his artistic talent and hired him as a “textile designer”. Soon he was making her signature bracelets with Maltese crosses set with cabochon shaped gemstones. She loved his bold, brightly colored bulky pieces. Military and Bzsantine themes inspired him. He was known for his “jewelry in shapes of pomegranates, eggplants, prickly pears and violet posies”.
After the stock market crash in 1929, the jewelry trade declined and Verdura left for America. Cole Porter helped him set up his new store on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1939 after working with Paul Flato, a jewelry store owner.
Soon he was creating whimsical jewelry and cigarette cases for the rich and famous. He designed jewelry with the themes of seashells, seahorses, animals and insects in his untraditional jewelry.
He never married or became an American citizen. Verdura retired in London and wrote his autobiography.
In 1984, Walter Landrigan purchased his store. Verdura created four thousand sketches which were used to design future jewelry.