Fred Samuel, the resistant jeweler
Fred Joaillier... Could it only have been otherwise? If Fred Samuel, the founder of the House, was born in Brazil in 1907, it was because his father had left his small Alsatian village to go and trade in precious stones on the other side of the Atlantic, then to open his store Calle Florida in Buenos Aires, the Brazilian equivalent of the Rue de la Paix. In his memoirs, Fred Samuel recalled his father "sorting stones" and his mother "playing with colored jewels, whose names I did not know at the time," he wrote.
"I knew that the brilliance of the stones I loved so much would help me to walk in this world."
Jewelry-making was unquestionably in his genes, and it was in Paris that Fred Samuel chose to practice his art. Returning to France at the age of 16, trained with Samuel and René Worms, the jeweler opened his own boutique in 1936 on Rue Royale.
But history always tends to repeat itself. His father had gone into exile to escape the German occupation in 1870, Fred Samuel faced the Nazi invasion and discrimination against Jews: forced to remove the name Samuel from his sign by the Vichy regime's General Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, he saw a yellow star affixed to his shop window in 1941.
An Argentinean by nationality, he had joined the Foreign Legion in 1939, before being taken prisoner, escaping and returning to his business. The situation pushed him to leave for the free zone in 1942, where he joined the Vercors maquis.
Back in Paris in 1944, the jeweler resumed his work, but kept the sign in the sole name of Fred, by defiance or to never forget the dark hours of the occupation.
A jeweler in perpetual search of light and color
Even before the war, Fred Samuel had made a name for himself in the world of Parisian luxury. The man who called himself the "Modern - Jeweler - Creator", an expert in multicolored stones, in constant search of light, was also an avant-gardist, who created "jewelry to live" that women could now wear on a daily basis.
His inspiration, his talent, his innate sense of aesthetics had already seduced stars like Marlene Dietrich, Marie Pickford or Douglas Fairbanks. The post-war years, full of inventiveness and joie de vivre, and also prosperous for the Parisian luxury, made Fred one of the most sought-after jewelers. He works with the poet Jean Cocteau and the expressionist painter Bernard Buffet, Princess Grace of Monaco is one of his most loyal customers.
The gotha flocked to his store, seduced by his daring creations. In the early 1950s, the royal couple of Nepal commissioned him to create sets that matched his shimmering saris. Fred reproduced the multicolored silks in an incredible pallet of colored stones and diamonds. Other high jewelry pieces will symbolize this love of stones, their colors and lights, including the Rainbow, a set of 42 different colored diamonds, and the Golden Sun, a 105.54-carat daffodil-colored diamond.
Iconic pieces and iconic collections
The Samuel family had another passion besides stones, that of the sea and water sports, which regularly took them away from Paris. In 1966, the elder of his two sons had the idea of transforming a cable braided in the manner of the Corderie Royale into a piece of jewelry, using a boat shackle as a clasp. Fred's genius did the rest. For the first time in jewelry, he combined gold and steel, added a diamond set: the iconic Force 10 bracelet was born, which remains today, with its multiple variations, a best-seller.
The history of the House of Fred and its iconic pieces is written through encounters. One of the most famous encounters was with the seventh art. In 1989, the production team of the film Pretty Woman pushed open the door of the Beverly Hills boutique, looking for an ornament that Richard Gere was to give to Julia Roberts. Fred Samuel imagines the choker necklace of 23 heart-cut rubies surrounded by diamonds that will make millions of viewers dream. At the Parisian House, the Pretty Woman collection is always the one that symbolizes love.
The takeover of Fred Joaillier by the LVMH group in 1996, the transmission of the creation part to Dominique Watine-Arnault, allow the Parisian House to keep the luminous aesthetic that made its reputation while expanding internationally with the opening of a dozen boutiques.
Collections like Baie des Anges or Pain de sucre - the sea, the sun, Brazil - are fully in line with the House's codes, between shimmering colors, joie de vivre, and everyday luxury. They also reflect a legacy of Fred Samuel, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 99: the ongoing desire for accessibility, both in terms of jewelry prices and the atmosphere of the boutiques, "welcoming places where you are not afraid to enter."
Since 2017, the artistic direction of Fred Joaillier has returned to the family, as Valérie Samuel, granddaughter of the founding father, has taken over the reins. After having made her debut within the House, her classes at a renowned diamond dealer in New York, she continued her career at Lalique and Swarowski before, therefore, her "return to the fold".