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Spotlight On: Raymond Templier

Raymond Templier, the minimal, geometric jeweller with a penchant for Cubism, made a significant contribution to the Art Deco movement of the early twentieth century. This article chronicles his life, achievements, and iconic geometric jewellery style that inspired a generation.

A glittering family affair

Like many of his contemporaries, Raymond Templier was born into a family with a long tradition as jewellers. His grandfather, Charles, founded Templier in Paris, 1849, before his father, Paul, continued the tradition. Raymond entered the family business in 1919 while studying at the Ecole Superior des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.

It’s hip to be square

After completing his studies, Raymond undertook a full-time role at the family business, diverging from Templier’s traditional designs in favour of minimal, geometric creations inspired by Cubism. His transposition of Cubist ideas onto fine jewellery led to several seminal exhibitions in 1911 – the year in which he became a member of the Conseil Superior des Arts Decoratifs. Raymond also participated in the Paris exhibitions of 1925 and 1937, cementing his legacy as an integral Art Deco designer with a variety of pieces including 1920s rings and 1930s rings. Templier’s importance in the Art Deco movement is cemented further by his co-founding of the Union Des Artistes Modernes (UAM), with other influential figures such as Jean Puiforecat and Pierre Chareau.

Attention to detail

A hallmark of Templier’s craft was his personal design of every piece of jewellery that bears his signature. Moreover, his drawings, aside from being beautiful in their own right, illustrate his fascination with juxtaposed arcs and inverted triangles – hallmarks that shaped his style and recur in his work time and time again. Templier used these motifs in myriad innovative ways, the most prominent being the expression of the interplay of volume and light, which helped him produce some of the most powerful, sophisticated jewellery of the Art Deco era.

Like many ‘artist-jewellers’ of the time, Templier’s interest in precious metals was muted – he used silver and white gold interchangeably, with black and occasionally green lacquer or enamel. Diamonds were another matter, and he liberally incorporated them into his pieces for their sparkle and transparency to bring light to a jewel, like a seasoned architect using windows to expand a space. Templier’s lines become more curved and sensual against the bleak backdrop of the Great Depression, with yellow gold at the forefront of his metalwork.

Inheriting the House of Templier and later life

Templier took the reins of his father’s business in 1935 and continued to make jewellery while being actively participating in various artists’ organisations.  His esteemed firm continued to uphold its prolific exhibit presence, creating striking jewellery collections, as well as cigarette cases and sporting trophies for basketball, boxing, and tennis. While styles evolved after the Second World War, Raymond stayed true to his modernist aesthetic throughout the 40s and 50s, before his retirement in 1965. He donated several pieces to the ‘Les Années ’25’: Art Déco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau’ exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs the following year, paving a legacy which now permeates some of the world’s most prominent museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Met and of course the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Templier died on the 22nd May 1968 in his native Paris.