Friday, October 10, 2014


Circa 1920s deco dress clip. Photo in Gustav Manz archive, Winterthur Library, Joseph Downs Collection

"Kissing your hand may make you feel 
very very good, but a diamond and 
safire (sic) bracelet lasts forever." 
—Anita Loos

A diamond clip with Greek Key motif identical to the one shown above appears in a circa 1932 sales catalog for liquidation of jewels formerly owned by the elder son of Thomas Kirkpatrick, founder of the old New York firm T. Kirkpatrick & Co. Two hundred and ten round and 18 baguette stones radiate from a pair of stylized banded fleur de lys where the two halves meet (raising the total by an additional 2 baguettes and 12 rounds). The maker, Gustav Manz, was a long-time supplier to Kirkpatrick, and other Gilded-to-Deco era retailers.

Greek key ring mounting designed by Gustav Manz 
circa 1905-1920

Manz's father-in-law and business partner Charles (Carl) Bachem was a manufacturing jeweler who'd emigrated from Pforzheim to open a diamond ring factory in Newark in 1892. For "convenience of the trade," Bachem distributed his cluster heads through Maiden Lane diamond setters John C. Nordt and Gottfried Heppdin. (To this day, descendants of Nordt fabricate ring blanks for the trade.) 

"Superior to Anything Ever Shown" 
(Jewelers' Circular, February 1897)

Shortly after moving the factory to Maiden Lane in 1899, Bachem retired for health reasons, turning the reins over to his son-in-law and his own wife, Sophie, who soon after reincorporated as Manz & Co. The pair were soon joined by Walter P. McTeigue (another manufacturing jeweler who'd recently split from his partner), producing "fine diamond and carved jewelry" that was carried by premier merchants in Philadelphia, Palm Beach, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., as well as elite retailers along Ladies' Mile. Six years later, Manz split off from McTeigue to set up on his own account. 

1920s diamond ring, marked Gillot & Co, engraved with stylized fleur de lys along shank and laurel leaves on prongs. Paul Gillot—a former design associate with Marcus &amp—frequently purchased mountings from Manz's studio
 (Photo courtesy Erie Basin)

By 1925, the same year Harper's Bazaar serialized Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer BlondesManz had moved his business to its final location in Manhattan's new jewelry district above 42nd Street, a convenience for his best clients—Tiffany, Black Starr & Frost, Marcus, Kirkpatrick, and Pickslay & Co—who'd followed their affluent customers from lower to upper Fifth Avenue in much the same spirit as Loos' practical-minded heroine Lorelei Lee.

"Any girl who was a lady would not even think 
of having such a good time that she did 
not remember to hang on to her jewelry." 
—Anita Loos

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                                             GUSTAV MANZ LLC

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