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The Story

Explore our history & heritage through our timeline

Duke Fulco di Verdura (1899–1978) began his career in 1920s Paris, designing the iconic Maltese Cross Cuffs for his friend Coco Chanel. In 1934 Verdura ventured to America and designed jewels for stars of the era, including Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. He officially became an "American jeweler" on September 1, 1939, the day war broke out in Europe, when his friends, Cole Porter and Vincent Astor, financed his debut on Fifth Avenue. With Europe off-limits during the war, Verdura gained a following of high-profile clients among New York society and fashion's best-dressed list, enticed by Verdura's bold yet understated "chic".

In 1985, Ward Landrigan, head of Sotheby's US jewelry department, purchased the company, including its archive of nearly 10,000 original sketches, and set about to bring Verdura's timeless designs to a new generation of collectors. His son Nico joined the company in 2004 and currently serves as President alongside Ward, Verdura's CEO. In 2014, the company celebrated its 75th anniversary with a 3-month retrospective exhibition that attracted over 8,000 attendees.

Today Verdura's fine jewelry is available at the company's flagship gallery at 745 Fifth Avenue in New York, overlooking Central Park, as well as retail partners Bergdorf Goodman, select Neiman Marcus locations, Betteridge, Obsidian in London and Mindham in Toronto.

Scroll to explore the Verdura timeline
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  • Fulco di Verdura Age 7 and Salamander Brooch
  • Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, future Duke of Verdura, is born to an aristocratic family in Palermo, Sicily.

    Interior View, Villa Niscemi
  • Cole Porter in Paris, circa 1920, with overlay of Night and Day Cufflinks made by Verdura
  • Fulco di Verdura meets Cole Porter and his wife Linda during their honeymoon in Palermo, sparking a life-long friendship. Throughout the 1920s, Fulco follows the social seasons of Europe, traveling to Paris and Venice, attending costume balls with friends who would one day help launch his career.

    Mrs. Cole (Linda) Porter, circa 1920 with moonstone Stardust Cluster Earclips
Verdura's sketch of stardust cluster bracelet, inspiration for Stardust Cluster Earclps
  • At the Porters' urging, Fulco moves to Paris and begins to design textiles for a friend Coco Chanel.

  • Fulco di Verdura in costume for his '1799' Costume Ball in Palermo
  • Fulco invites the Porters, Coco Chanel, Elsa Maxwell and 300 of his closest friends to a "1799" costume ball in Palermo at the Palazzo Verdura. The lavish affair at Palazzo Verdura depletes what remains of the Duke's inheritance but brings him to international prominence.

Maltese Cross design drawing

Fulco begins designing jewelry for Chanel. With Coco as his muse, Verdura shatters the status quo in jewelry with his revolutionary gold and gemstone "Byzantine" designs.

Famed Fashion Editor Diana Vreeland, a devoted Chanel client, acquires two of Verdura's earliest and most renowned jewels – the "Theodora" and "Ravenna" brooches. Verdura later translates this style to a pair of Maltese Cross cuffs for Coco Chanel which come to define the era.

Ravenna Brooch
Diana Vreeland wearing the theodora and Ravenna Brooches on her turban, 1935
The Original Maltese Cross Cuffs made for Coco Chanel by Duke Fulco di Verdura
Theodora Brooch
  • Fulco di Verdura and friends in Palm Beach Florida in 1935
  • The young duke emigrates to America, accompanied by friends Baron Niki de Gunzburg and Princess Natalie Paley, traveling through New York and Palm Beach to Hollywood.

  1. Hollywoodland sign overlooking Hollywood circa 1934
  2. Verdura's Double Crescent Bracelet in gold and diamond
  • Jean Howard, Paul Flato and Fulco di Verdura, 1937
  • Diana Vreeland introduces Fulco to Paul Flato, "Jeweler to the Stars," who hires him as head designer. Among his work for the great film stars of the day is one of Verdura's earliest creations for Flato, a spectacular aquamarine and ruby "Belt" necklace, designed for Cole Porter's wife, Linda.

Aquamarine and ruby Belt Necklace, Verdura for Linda Porter
  • Color sketch of Red Hot and Blue Cigarette Case made by Verdura for Cole Porter

    Verdura creates what Vogue hails as "the most talked-of bauble in town," an opulent cigarette case in diamonds, rubies and sapphires, given by Cole Porter to Linda at the opening of his show Red, Hot and Blue. Over the years, Verdura would create at least 20 jeweled cigarette boxes commemorating the openings of Cole's shows.

  • Color sketch of Panama Hattie Cigarette Case made by Verdura for Cole Porter and kiss me kate cigarette case made by verdura for Cole Porter
  • Fulco travels to Los Angeles for the opening of Flato's new store on Sunset Boulevard. Through the jeweler's Hollywood connections, Verdura designs pieces for Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Elsa Schiaparelli, Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich.

    Around this time, the Curb-Link bracelet and watch become "linked" to Greta Garbo, who is regularly photographed wearing her matching bracelet and watch and continues to wear them throughout her life.

  • Greta Garbo
  • Curb Link bracelet and watch
  • Storefront view of Verdura's first boutique
  • September 1
    On the same day war is declared in Europe, Fulco opens his Fifth Avenue salon in New York, with the financial backing of friends Vincent Astor and Cole Porter. His first collection debuts to great acclaim, as Americans accustomed to shopping for fine jewelry in Europe are no longer able to travel there due to the outbreak of the Second World War.

    Vintage Verdura gold and diamond Sunburst Brooch
  • Joan Fontaine purchases Fulco's pink topaz and diamond "Wing" brooch, which she later wears in the 1941 Hitchcock film Suspicion.

    Cary Grant in scene from Suspicion, with joan fontaine, wearing Verdura's pink tourmaline wing brooch
  • Fulco purchases a collection of sea shells from the American Museum of Natural History in New York and sets them in gold with precious gems, charming New York society, including Millicent Rogers, Tallulah Bankhead and Betsey Whitney.

    Tallulah Bankhead wearing Lions Paw Shell Brooch
  • Photo of Verdura's Lions Paw Shell Brooch

Fulco designs his fanciful "Target" earrings, favored by Millicent Rogers and Dorothy Paley.

  1. Dorothy Paley wearing Target Earclips circa 1940
    Diamond and gold target earclips
  2. Diamond and gold target brooch
  • Image of Salvador Dali and Fulco di Verdura
  • Fulco and Salvador Dalí collaborate on their first surrealist jewelry collection, five historic pieces incorporating miniature paintings by Dalí with jeweled settings by Verdura, exhibited and sold at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The collaboration sparks Dalí's lifelong fascination with jewelry and Fulco's passion for miniature painting.

    Sketch and product shot of Verdura and Dali's Medusa Brooch

Film star Tyrone Power purchases the first Wrapped Heart brooch, now one of Verdura's most iconic designs, as a Christmas present for his wife, the French actress Annabella.

Wrapped heart brooch sketch
Wrapped heart brooch photo
  • The glamorous Cushing sisters – Minnie Astor, Betsey Whitney and Babe Paley – become Verdura's friends and muses. Their commissions inspire some of the duke's greatest creations.

    Verdura black and white pearl bracelets made for Babe Paley
  • Photo of Babe Paley at the Saint Regis Hotel in NYC, 1957
  • Verdura designs the "Double-Crescent" bracelet, made famous by Marjorie Merriweather Post and later Diana, Princess of Wales.

    Image of model wearing Verdura's Double Crescent Bracelet, 1950 and Double Crescent Bracelet in gold and diamond
Gold and diamond double crescent bracelet sketch Gold and diamond double crescent bracelet sketch
  • Two miniature paintings by duke Fulco di Verdura
  • "Praise from the artist's friend (and Fulco di Verdura and I are friends of some thirty years' standing) is rather like a compliment from a theatrical producer once one's show is a hit—apt to be just a little bit prejudiced. Only a great jeweller's hand could have created them. In fact, their jewel-like size is one reason for their exquisite taste; Fulco di Verdura has used his paints in the manner that diamonds should always be worn—preciously."

    - As excerpted from Cole Porter's introduction to Fulco di Verdura's first exhibition of miniature paintings at the Iolas Gallery in New York City.

    Miniature painting by Duke Fulco Di Verdura of cyclops island in the Mediterranean
  • John Hay and Betsey Whitney at his appointment to the Court of Saint James in England, 1957
  • For John Hay Whitney's presentation as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Betsey Whitney debuts Fulco's Native American-inspired "Feather Headdress" tiara at Buckingham Palace.

    Feather Headdress Tiara made by Fulco di Verdura for Betsey Whitney, 1956
  • Movie poster of Burt Lancaster in The Leopard.
  • 1963 Duke Fulco di Verdura advises Luchino Visconti on his film, The Leopard, adapted from the eponymous novel by Fulco's cousin, Duke Giuseppe di Lampedusa.

    Alain Delon, Ruggero Nuvolari and Fulco di Verdura on the set of The Leopard
Movie still of Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale from The Leopard

Fulco retires, leaving the business in the hands of his long-time associate, Joseph Alfano. Verdura moves to Eaton Square in London.

Gold and Diamond Furled Leaf Brooch
  • Front Cover of The Happy Summer Days, Verdura's memoir of his childhood in Sicily
  • Fulco publishes his memoirs, entitled The Happy Summer Days, about his charmed childhood in Sicily, to a favorable literary review by The Sunday Times.

  • Pencil sketch by Fulco di Verdura
  • Verdura dies at the age of 79. His ashes are taken to the family vault at the Cimitero di Sant'Orsola in Palermo.

  • Ward Landrigan acquires the company, including Verdura's full archive of nearly 10,000 original jewelry designs. Formerly the head of Sotheby's US jewelry department, Landrigan was familiar with the work of the world's great jewelry houses. Under Landrigan's stewardship, the company sets out to introduce Verdura's timeless designs to a new generation.

  • Verdura CEO Ward Landrigan circa 1983
  • A pair of Verdura maltese cross cuffs
  • The late Princess Diana wearing Verdura's Double Crescent Bracelet in New York, 1997
  • Princess Diana is photographed wearing the "Double-Crescent" bracelet and "Diana" earclips at the charity sale of her gowns at Christie's.

    Gold and diamond double crescent bracelet
  • Thames & Hudson publishes the illustrated biography, Verdura: The Life and Work of a Master Jeweler, by Patricia Corbett.

Variants of the front cover of the illustrated biography of Verdura, published by Thames and Hudson
  • Verdura President Nico Landrigan, circa 2009
  • Nico Landrigan, Ward’s son, joins the company, becoming President in 2009.

  • Verdura celebrates its 75th anniversary with a retrospective exhibition, The Power of Style, curated by Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera and their daughter Patricia Lansing. The retrospective receives international news coverage including a segment on CBS Sunday Morning and attracts over 8,000 attendees over a three month period.

Photo of exhibition curators (from left to right) Reinaldo Herrera, Ward Landrigan, Carolina Herrera, Nico Landrigan, and Patricia Lansing, Verdura's 75th Anniversary Exhibition poster, and pair of 75th Anniversary limited edition Theodora Cuffs

Today, Ward Landrigan and his son Nico continue to build on Duke Fulco di Verdura's legacy, combing the rich archives of nearly 10,000 original sketches, less than half of which have ever been realized. Their mission: to create bold and timeless jewelry that​ ​speaks to a new generation of jewelry lovers.

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