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Seaman Schepps

A scrappy, self-made artist who transformed turbo shells into decadent earrings and crystal chessmen into bold bracelets, Seaman Schepps (1881–1972) tirelessly worked his way up from the tenements of New York’s Lower East Side to become “America’s Court Jeweler.”

Born to immigrant parents who named him for the Seamen’s Bank for Savings that his mother could see from the hospital — or so the legend goes — Schepps dropped out of school at the age of 14 and never had any formal jewelry training. He later moved to California, where he opened his first jewelry shop in 1904. In 1921, he returned to New York to build on the success he’d begun to enjoy as a jeweler on the West Coast, but it wasn’t long before his Manhattan house, which counted Broadway stars and theater patrons among its clientele, was hit hard by the stock market crash of 1929. Schepps used this disruption to rethink his approach to jewelry, debuting a new store in 1934 on Madison Avenue, where he would make his mark in playful custom adornments.

While many high-end jewelers of his era focused on the purest and most valuable gemstones, Schepps chose his materials for their color and shape, elevating flawed stones others disregarded in collage-like formations involving unconventional materials such as fine wood, coral, seashells and flea-market finds. Passersby of his New York City shop could find a frog-shaped brooch carved from rosewood, a vintage snuff bottle broken into links for a bracelet and loose-drilled pearls plugged with diamonds. Schepps’s whimsical pieces found fans in fashion icons who appreciated his unique statements, including Doris Duke, Andy Warhol and the Duchess of Windsor.

Following Schepps’s death in 1972, his daughter, jewelry designer Patricia S. Vaill, ran the jewelry house for two decades before it was taken over by Jay Bauer and Anthony Hopenhajm of Trianon jewelry. Following the closure of the company’s Park Avenue store in November 2020, sales for Seaman Schepps is now based in its boutique location out of Palm Beach, Florida, where the legendary brand carries forth its founder’s spirited designs.

On 1stDibs, find a distinctive collection of vintage Seaman Schepps jewelry, including brooches, bracelets and other accessories.

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Seaman Schepps Yellow Gold and Mobe Pearl Clover Pendant and Brooch
By Seaman Schepps
Located in Beverly Hills, CA
Product details; Circa 1950's. Featuring 14K yellow gold and mobe pear (14mm diameter) detail in the middle, clover motif. From the RETRO period. 2 in 1 brooch and pendant. Signed...
Category

1950s Vintage Seaman Schepps

Materials

Pearl, Yellow Gold

Seaman Schepps Jewelry Coffee Table Book, 2004
By Seaman Schepps
Located in Atlanta, GA
New Yorker Seaman Schepps (1881-1972) became affectionately known as 'America's Court Jeweler' for his popularity among influential people including first ladies, artists, Hollywood ...
Category

Early 2000s Seaman Schepps

Large Coral and Adventurine Stickpin, Seaman Schepps
By Seaman Schepps
Located in Riverdale, NY
Large Coral and Adventurine Stickpin attributed to Seaman Schepps. Likely antique carved stone elements set onto 14k gold. 1940's USA. Excellent Condition. Unsigned. Length 3.75&qu...
Category

1940s Vintage Seaman Schepps

Materials

Coral, 14k Gold

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Van Cleef and Arpels Clematis Yellow Gold, Wood and Diamond Flower Clip Brooch
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Early 1900s Seaman Schepps

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Mid-20th Century Seaman Schepps

1940s Retro Tiffany & Co. Yellow Gold Eternity Circle Brooch
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1940s Seaman Schepps

Previously Available Items
Seaman Schepps Pat Pending 14k Turbo Shell Earrings w/Lapis
By Seaman Schepps
Located in Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rare and exquisite Seaman Schepps vintage earrings, dating back to the 1940's and with a patent pending stamp, showcase a real Turbo shell on 14k yellow gold. Shells have a small rou...
Category

1940s Artisan Vintage Seaman Schepps

Materials

Lapis Lazuli, 14k Gold

SEAMAN SCHEPPS 18K, Pearl & Diamond Turbo Shell Bracelet
By Seaman Schepps
Located in New York, NY
A Stunning and Rare Vintage Seaman Schepps Multi Strand Pearl Bracelet ending in a diamond set Turbo Shell Clasp. In Very Good Condition.
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1960s Vintage Seaman Schepps

Seaman Schepps Turquoise Coral and Gold Turbo Shell Earrings
By Seaman Schepps
Located in New Hope, PA
Classic Seaman Schepps turbo shell earrings are wrapped in gold and topped with bezel set turquoise stones. Adding interest the bottom of the earring is bezel set with coral. The ear...
Category

1970s Contemporary Vintage Seaman Schepps

Materials

Coral, Turquoise, 14k Gold