Pierre Sterlé

Son of a family of bankers, Pierre Sterlé was born in 1905. After the death of his father during the First World War, he was sent to live with an uncle, a jeweler in Paris, who introduced him to the profession. In 1934, he started his own establishment. He enjoyed the support of many large jewellery houses, such as BoucheronChaumet and Ostertag, for whom he was already designing jewellery.

In 1939, he premiered a range of jewellery specifically for individuals. The writer Colette, fascinated by his work, was one of his first clients. In 1943 he moved to larger premises at 43 avenue de l'Opera, close to place Vendôme. Approaching the world of high fashion, he began a collaboration with designer Jacques Fath, beginning to consider himself as a couturier of jewellery to socialites.

The exclusive nature and originality of his style was worn by his fortunate clients, habitués of the houses of DiorBalenciaga or Jean Dessès. Pierre Sterlé rapidly acquired both a clientele and international renown. In 1950, he received a visit from King Farouk of Egypt, who commissioned a crown for his wife, Queen Narriman. Shortly afterwards, the Begum Aga Khan, the maharani of Baroda and other important jewellery buyers of the era became habitual buyers of his work.

His reputation was cemented when he won the De Beers Diamond Award, a major achievement in the jewellery profession, and which he won for three consecutive years, in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

It was in 1955 that Sterlé began to have his first financial difficulties. The launch of his two perfumes, Huit-huit and 2 Diam, the only ones he created, were a financial disaster. He had refused, as usual, to take into account the cost of manufacture, and as a result was forced to sell the product for below the cost price. To balance the books, he was required to separate his collection of paintings, and property north of Paris.

In 1966 he was the first jeweller invited to the Antique Dealers Biennale. He presented a life-sized Temple of Love, supported by pearl-encrusted dolphins. An exposed glass pyramid showed, on trays of white coral, a collection of jewellery inspired by nature - birds, flowers, marine life, which caused a sensation.

This success allowed him to open his first boutique, something which he had always refused to do. It would seem that he was right in this - despite coming from a family of financiers, Sterlé was a poor businessman, and the boutique quickly became a financial disaster. In 1976 he was required to liquidate the company, with all stock being purchased by Chaumet.

During the final years of his life, he became a technical consultant at Chaumet.