Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Designer Spotlight: Mellerio dits Meller

'Paon Royale' by Mellerio dits Meller. This peacock aigrette
was made for the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh Bahadur of
Kapurthala. He commissioned it in 1905 as a wedding
gift for his fifth wife, Anita Delgado.
Mellerio, known as Meller: Italian goldsmiths doing business in France. In the 1500s, a group of Lombardy tradesmen traveled regularly to Paris, France, to conduct business. In 1613, a chimney sweep by the name of Jacques Pido was working with his apprentices in the Palace of Versailles.

Hidden away inside one of the grimy flues in the palace, one of his apprentices overheard a group of men plotting to kill the King of France, Louis XIII. Upon hearing of the plot, Jacques and his men rallied together with the other members of the Lombardy Community.

The Community leaders sent a letter to the king's mother, Marie de Medici, who also hailed from Italy. That letter saved her son's life. To express her gratitude, Marie de Medici issued a decree which allowed all of the Lombardy residents (comprising three villages in Italy) to conduct their business throughout the entire realm without restriction or interference, under the protection of the King.

One of these fortunate villages was Craveggia, home to the Mellerio family who made their living as goldsmiths.{1} With the provisions stipulated by Marie de Medici, the Mellerios succeeded in establishing themselves as the premier jewelers to the royal courts of France and beyond. Three successive monarchs renewed the decree, supplying their protection to the Lombardy tradesmen through the late 1700s.

In 1815, Francois Meller built upon this foundation and established a jewelry salon at Rue de la Paix. By that time, he had already won the favor of Queen Marie Antoinette, who purchased several pieces of beautiful jewelry from the firm, including a ruby bracelet featuring seven cameos.{2}

Francois established the foundational mission, motto, and values for the family business. The Mellerio mission is to bring creativity and ingenuity to bear on every piece they fashion and to pay "faultless attention to clients' preferences."{3} The Mellerio motto: "The tradition of Mellerio is to create."{4}

And the values that have underpinned the Mellerio company for going on fifteen generations are respect and obedience to traditions, honor for family, absolute trust in relationships between family members, faith in the religion of Italy, and respect for both France and Italy.{5}

Through adherence to these values, Francois won the loyalty of every French ruler that graced the royal halls from 1815 to 1832. Proverbs 22 says, "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men."

And so Francois Mellerio stood before kings and queens, and he passed his knowledge, his values, and his character on to the generations that followed him. Mellerio dits Meller has served the royals of Europe since the 1800s and continues to serve those in noble estate to this day.

Empires have risen and fallen, wars have been won and lost, and yet Mellerio dits Meller remains firmly established on the Rue de la Paix in Paris, France, where it has stood since 1815. The exceptional quality of their work is their signature trademark. You can see it this gorgeous peacock aigrette. Known as the Paon Royale ('Royal Peacock'), it was made in 1905 for the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala. He gave it to his fifth and favorite wife, Anita Delgado, as a gift on their wedding day.

It is fashioned from gold and platinum, featuring gorgeous enameling on the head and body of the bird. The tail feathers are decorated in diamonds, with the eyes beautifully enameled in shades of blue, green, and yellow. Like many of Mellerio's Art Nouveau bird feathers, it "bends with all the grace of the feather."{6} It is truly a piece of magnificence, as is a family company owned and operated since the 1500s.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews


  1. O'Hara, William T. Centuries of Success: Lessons from the World's Most Enduring Family Businesses. Adams Media, 2004, p. 103.
  2. "Mellerio dits Meller celebrates 400 years of jewellery making with the launch of a new collection," The Jewellery Editor, July 20, 2013.
  3. O'Hara, p. 103.
  4. Ibid., p. 109.
  5. Ibid., p. 103.
  6. Maskelyne, N. Story. "Report on Jewellery and Precious Stones (Class 36.)," Reports on the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1867. (London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode (Printers to Her Majesty), 1868), p. 598.

No comments:

Post a Comment