Posted 4 months ago
Signed Opague White Bracelet Set, Circa 1960
In my posession November 11, 2018 This beautiful set is rarely, if ever seen. The first time in my collecting I have seen this bracelet offered. Sherman used opague stones so seldom, I had to get this example. There are only 2 pages in the (Sherman) book of black and opague white jewelry pieces. Especially rare are the large rectangular white stones. I received all 4 pieces of this set together, and all are signed. Usually I might date this set about 1950, possibly earlier, but here the signatures match more his last known signature so I put the date to 1960. I strongly believe this may be a one of set which I think Sherman did regularly, possibly for a special client. This set is delicate but possibly for a youger woman, the bracelet for a smaller wrist !~
Gustave Sherman founded his business in 1947, in Montreal, Canada. Sherman went into business a few years after the end of WWII when rising optimism and prosperity meant increased incomes and the desire to leave the austerity of the war years firmly in the past. The retro period featured bold, usually gold plated pieces with a bit of deco, set with relatively few large and often square cut stones. Post war this style gave way to the use of smaller stones, silver coloured settings, and a more refined design mimicking real jewellery.
His earliest work mirrored in many respects, that of Jay-Flex or Jay-Kel for whom he had worked with good settings and stones that were not spectacular. Sherman's early philosophy would be quality, only using the best stones, which called for Swarovski crystals and the best plating.
His insistence on thick rhodium plating resulted in plating that still looks brand new today. You really can marvel at the plating being so pristine so many years after they were made. Sherman's pieces were labour intensive because he used ONLY prong set stones that needed to be hand-set.
Sherman had many competitors. These were mainly Continental, Keyes and Artistic being the best known in Canada. I have some of the Continental and love some of their bracelets. Sherman offered but one line with the same high standards of excellence. His tag line emblazoned on tags and boxes read, "Jewels of Elegance", summing up his approach to excellence. He used NO other words to describe his jewellery, although there have been other Jewellery stores who went out on a limb making other claims for Sherman in their advertising. He did not design lines for the seasons but instead used colour or design theme, using lower price points which did not break his high standard of excellence.
His early work used a lot of rectangular baguette stones making his earlier work so recognizable. Some of the most intricate and spectacular pieces have come from the smaller cities and towns. The most extravagant pieces of Sherman might have been put in the window to lure customers in. Stories say that the more outrageous pieces were stored until New Year's dances at Legion Halls, and weddings and events where only the best would do.
The large jewellers like Birks only in Canada, and Peoples and smaller ones like Mackenzies in Lethbridge Alberta sold Sherman's jewellery. It was also available at Eatons, Simpsons and the Hudson's Bay Company, now known as The Bay. Sherman's pieces were often shown in ads next to trifari or coro pieces. Sherman's pieces now often fetch stratospheric prices and are highly coveted, creating bidding wars at the on line auctions and even real time.
There is a large debate about signed and unsigned pieces. Sherman used only his own designs which are recognizable to the many devout collectors and one author of a useless book who does not collect went on to say that he made only signed pieces. But many of the devout collectors that are not really just dealers in jewellery know that some of the most complex of Sherman designs often are found unsigned. The book by Sandra Caldwell shows many of these pieces and knows that they were often made without the Sherman mark. She makes many comparisons in her book to prove her finds. I often contact Sandra if I locate a piece I have never seen of that color combination or if I want to know if the piece is rare or not. She has helped me by giving me the most useful information and given me the encouragement that I sometimes need.
Sherman made the finest jewels without use of glue and all stones were hand set, some of incredible complexity and design that would be too hard to duplicate so there are really no fakes out there. I did find some interesting info put out by family records, incredible nasty things which were removed from the internet. I have read other things which to me suggest that the only real person who knew what went on was Gustave and his wife.
Unfortunately the fad of rhinestones ended and his business closed in 1981, leaving no records behind !~