Monday, August 13, 2012


Born on the Fourth of July, in 1904, Doris Manz was the younger of Gustav Manz's two daughters with first wife Martha Bachem. In this detail from a circa 1920s studio photograph, Doris is wearing a ring stack that includes a bezel-set cabochon (possibly her birthstone) and a tasseled chain wound around her wrist. According to her family, before her marriage in 1932 Doris worked as a gem broker, selling stones to Cartier, Black Starr & Frost, and Harry Winston while simultaneously traveling the country as her father's sales agent. 

Around this time, Doris sat for Neysa McMein, the artist responsible for McCall's American Beauty series; the resulting portrait—representing "The Scandinavian American Girl"—appeared on the magazine's November 1924 cover. (Surely an issue worth splurging a Liberty head dime on!)  


Doris's business card, shown above, is pasted inside a copy of George F. Kunz's Rings for the Finger. The inscription on the flyleaf reads:

Miss Doris Manz, 
  In appreciation of a 
friend of her father 
  the author
  George Frederick Kunz
  27 August 1920
  New York 

Next to his autograph, Kunz sketched a hieroglyph or rune engraved on a stone. We'd give anything to know if Tiffany's swashbuckling gemologist was just showing off his calligraphy or offering a secret handshake to a colleague's ambitious 16-year-old daughter, who was about to follow her grandparents (diamond ring manufacturers in Pforzheim and Newark) and father into the family trade.


Copyright © Laura Mathews, 2014 

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