If you’ve seen or heard the word Gropoix and weren’t sure what it meant, I’m here to help!
I’ve seen it not only with Chanel jewelry but other vintage pieces and really didn’t have any idea on what it meant so I started doing a little research and found a couple of really great, older articles that gave me a good overview of who is behind the process and how it started.
“Gripoix is made from “Pâte de verre,” or glass paste, which is formed when molten glass is poured into a mold”.
The New York Times wrote a great article in 2012 on the history of Gripoix and below is an excerpt:
PARIS — In 1869, Augustine Gripoix, a Paris glass worker skilled in the making of reproduction pearls, developed a sophisticated technique for setting and enameling colored, cast glass in intricate metal mountings.
“Pâte de verre,” or glass paste, is formed when molten glass is poured into a mold, rather than through the kiln-firing of a paste of ground glass and binding agents. Pâte de verre has long leant itself to the creation of jewelry pieces in a wide range of shapes and colors, with princesses and aristocrats requesting replicas of their precious jewels, and commissioning necklaces to match their fur stoles.
Ms. Gripoix set up shop on Rue Tiquetonne, in what was then the jewelry district of the French capital. Her first claim to fame was the creation of stage necklaces for Sarah Bernhardt in the 1890s, followed by costume jewelry for the world’s first couture house, Charles Worth, founded the same year as Gripoix. She later collaborated with Paul Poiret, whose high-society clients commissioned pieces to go with the evening dresses they wore to Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
By the 1920s, the design house, ran by Augustine’s daughter Suzanne Gripoix, had added Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Piguet and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel to their client list. Chanel first approached Gripoix looking for reproductions of Byzantine jewelry: she remained a loyal customer for decades.
Chanel was famous for mixing real and fake pearls in her own necklaces. For her, Suzanne Gripoix developed a special kind of irregular glass pearl to which she gave a mother-of-pearl sheen. Ms. Possémé said, “The place of jewelry changed because women’s lives radically changed. Precious jewelry was no longer suited for a life where women could drive, smoke, shop alone.”
“Women,” she said, “began buying costume jewelry to match their bathing suits, and match their newly liberated daily lives.” Read the full article here
There’s always a story behind vintage goods, like how it’s made or where it came from and that’s the part that I find so interesting about Gripoix. Chanel Gripoix jewelry is not readily found online and the price tag is all over the map but they’re good investment pieces and worth it to own a bit of history.
Here is another interesting article on Gripoix by The Luxe Chronicles: Gripoix: The Artistry Of Haute Couture Costume Jewelry
Now that you have a better understanding of Gripoix, you’re all set to start shopping these amazing pieces of jewelry!