Discover Roland Schad
Roland Schad, discreet jeweller, combining the rough with the elegant
To write this article we were lucky enough to be received by Erik Schaix, couturier and jeweller, close friend and patron of Roland Schad, who was kind enough to answer our questions about this still little-known jeweller.
According to his friend, Roland Schad was born between 1930 and 1935 in Lausanne, his father-in-law being a jeweller, which probably contributed to his interest in jewellery creation.
It is after studying business that Roland Schad turned towards a CAP in jewellery in Nice. At the age of 28, he then launched himself into the world of jewellery, of which he particularly sublimates the raw aspect. In 1969 Roland Schad made a name for himself with his “Barbaric” collection combining a particular work of gold, which he called “granite gold”, and raw minerals such as dioptase, opal, beryls and quartz. This will become his trademark to which Erik Schaix pays homage in his own creations. Roland Schad never subcontracted the production of these pieces. They are almost all unique pieces. According to his long-time friend he did “real craftsmanship”. And his genius was not only expressed in jewellery but also in the creation of decorative objects such as boxes or paperweights in dioptase.
He never collaborated with the great Place Vendôme jewellery houses such as Pierre Sterlé, one of his sources of inspiration who worked for Boucheron. On the other hand, we can still talk about Erik Schaix’s fashion show at the Plaza Athénée in 1992, where his jewellery was combined with the designer’s outfits. For the last 5 years of his life, he worked with the creator of Gem’s Secret, Sin Lee Lim.
Among Roland Schad’s clients are Madame Fenestraz, known for her properties in Courchevel, Madame Berthillon-Chauvin and Edith Bongo, wife of Gabonese President Omar Bongo. However, Schad was not only a jeweller, he was also an exhibited artist.
Roland Schad exhibited at the Salon Porte de Versailles in the creators’ section, because according to him the clientele was more “hand-picked”. He also exhibited in the Léadouze gallery, avenue Matignon, at Madame Nadine de Rothschild’s and in the Schaix gallery.
But the dominant exhibition of his career is probably the one called “Sculptures de tempête” (Storm Sculptures) which Erik Schaix instigated. Following the storm that ravaged the gardens of Versailles in 1999, the National Estate of Versailles decided to auction the wood of its most prestigious trees. Erik Schaix acquired the Cedar of the Nursery, the Atlas Cedar planted by Napoleon and Marie-Antoinette’s Tulip Tree. He calls upon his artist friends and asks them to make sculptures from these woods. Roland Schad then created his masterpiece “The Tree and the Sun”, a Virginia Tulip tree set with fine gold, citrines, sunstones, green beryl, carnelian, moonstone.
Inaugurated on June 4, 2004 at the Orangerie du Trianon, by Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, then Minister of Culture at the time, the work of Roland Schad was very much noticed there.
Apart from jewellery, according to his friend, Schad was always an epicurean and a lover of imposing antique furniture such as chests or Normandy cupboards… Erik Schaix describes him as a “refined lout”, which brings us back to his creations combining elegance, raw minerals and granite gold.
Roland Schad died in 2017. But his know-how is found in the creations of Erik Schaix about which he says, in a way, he pays tribute to the work of his friend by working with “granite gold” which he also applies to silver.