Sunday, November 13, 2016


The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) monument 
Kamakura, Japan, 1923. The statue was originally gold-plated and housed inside a temple 
Image courtesy

One of Gustav Manz's popular mountings features a Buddha seated inside a lotus decorated pavilion. An 18k gold version shown here was modeled, cast, chased, set, finished and polished in Manz's New York studio at 2 West 47th Street. The center ruby was furnished "on memo" by an antiques dealer named Barkhy H. Mirzy, a former jeweler and Armenian-Turkish emigre from Lebanon who specialized in oriental goods. 

"Just... breathe..."
  Water-color on parchment rendering for a 1923
finger ring; image from Manz & Co costbooks
(Winterthur Museum, Joseph Downs Collection)

According to a notation in Manz's stockbook, Tiffany & Company bought the ring on September 25, 1923, just three weeks after a major earthquake struck Japan. The quake rocked the ancient city of Kamakura, where an enormous bronze statue of the Buddha—weighing 93 tonnes—shifted a distance of two feet! Whether the timing of the Tiffany purchase was an act of karma or just coincidence, the piece was just one of hundreds of rings, brooches, bracelets and cufflinks Manz designed and his artisans crafted for the store's jewelry department in the post-World War I decade.

Below, lotus detail from one of Manz's
 jewelry renderings from the 1920s
(Winterthur Museum, Joseph Downs Collection)

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