Jean Schlumberger, born into a family textile manufacturing family on January 24, 1907, loved the art of drawing. Dissuaded from this love of drawing, his family sent him to Berlin in 1930 to pursue a career in banking. The next year, defiant Schlumberger moved to Paris to “develop his artistic creativity”.
Schlumberger enlisted in the French army during World War II, in England’s army under General Charles de Gaulle and in the Free French Forces in the Middle East.
After the war, he moved to New York City and designed clothing for Chez Ninon. In 1946, Ninon together with his partner Nicolas Bongard, opened a jewelry store.
Ten years later, Walter Hoving invited Schlumberger to join Tiffany & Co. who ultimately became a Vice President. He was given complete freedom to create his style of fantasy jewelry and ornaments. During his first year, he created the Tiffany Diamond Mounting which is still in use today and the “Bird on a Rock” which holds the 128.54 carat yellow diamond in the legendary Schlumberger style. He was the first out of four creative designers given the freedom to stamp his name into his jewelry designs. Schlumberger loved the idea of the mythical unicorn, phoenix and Pegasus although most of his designs came from the sea, sea creatures and plants.
Some of Schlumberger’s famous clients were The Mellons, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, The Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. He was known to have created bangle bracelets of 18 karat gold leaf covered by vivid translucent colors of red, green or blue. Because Jackie Kennedy was so often seen wearing the bangles in photographs, these bangles became known as “Jackie bracelets”.
Schlumberger won the Fashion Critics Coty Award in 1959 and the French Chevalier of the National Order of Merit in 1977. He celebrated his 30th year anniversary at the 1986 exhibition of Tiffany & Co.
In 1995, Schlumberger was honored in the French Musee de Arts Decoratifs.
He returned to Paris and died at the age of 80 in 1987. He was buried at Isola di San Michele.