Georges Lenfant : The unknown genius of French jewelry mesh
Georges Lenfant is a workshop of creators, goldsmiths and jewelers (father and son) who marked with his know-how the French jewelry of the 20th century.
They have worked for Cartier, Hermès, Mellerio, Fred, Tiffany & Co and many others in Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix.
Georges Lenfant completed various internships and studied jewelry in Paris and abroad before returning to France and establishing his own business in the early 20th century.
At 47 rue des Petits-Champs, not far from his famous clients, was his workshop from which he executed models still in demand by collectors today. He is listed in a 1903 edition of the "Revue de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie" indicating that he was already established at that date, however, he did not register his distinctive maker's mark until 1909.
As his success and reputation grew, he quickly decided to hallmark his pieces "GL" thus leaving the trace of his talent on his works even though they were then resold by the biggest names of the Place Vendôme. So we often find 2 punches on his jewelry.
The multiple collaborations between the great Houses of the Place Vendôme and Georges Lenfant will see the birth of elegant meshes that can be paved with gems in daring bracelets, necklaces or even rings. Lenfant's workshop produced some of the most beautiful jewelry of the time for a demanding and refined clientele.
Georges was joined in the company in 1915 by his son Jacques (who was only 11 years old at the time), but who will continue to carry on his father's legacy until the end of the century and will keep the trade name as well as the hallmark.
It is Jacques Lenfant who specializes in the work of knitting and chain in the early 1920s. Like his father, he left to do apprenticeships abroad, particularly in Germany and Austria.
From 1927, Lenfant took over the Gustave Sandoz workshop for which he had already made pieces, and then in the 1940s another workshop, that of Verger Frères, which had been founded in 1872 and was especially known for its production of fabulous jewelry and Art Deco objects.
In the 1950s Jacques collaborated with Vacheron Constantin (who had already worked with the Verger workshop for many years) to make watches for Hermès and took over the long-standing partnerships his father had established with jewelers such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. The latter having greatly reduced their demands during the Second World War.
Throughout his career, Jacques Lenfant wished to pass on his know-how, which led him to hold several teaching positions (in parallel with the workshop) at the Chambre Syndicale de la Joaillerie, Bijouterie et Orfèvrerie. In 1980, he created a distinction to reward the best students. This distinction is still awarded.
18K yellow gold Bee brooch by the Georges Lenfant workshop for Hermès, circa 1960
Crédit photo : Aguttes
In the 60's and 70's, the Lenfant workshop, then at its peak, produced numerous bracelets and necklaces with remarkably elaborate gold links, which today remain a must for all discerning collectors.
Jacques Lenfant was fascinated by the art of goldsmithing and by the plethora of patterns, shapes and textures, creating and declining an infinite range of chains. He wrote a book "Le Livre de la Chaîne" (which was requested by the Chambre Syndicale) which was only published posthumously in 1996 (the year of his death). This book is the living memory of the chain and the profession of chainmaker.
Following Jacques' death, the workshop was bought by Benjamin Leneman in 1998, and has since become the Bouder workshop.
If you are interested in Georges Lenfant jewelry, don’t hesitate to discover what Les Pierres de Julie has to offer in store…
We are also available for any free expertise of your jewels, for that you can send an email with your photos to email@example.com.
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