Marchak is synonymous with bringing together the two aesthetically diverse cultures of Russia and France to create extraordinary jewels that are intense, multicoloured and sometimes, whimsical.
Marchak, an exclusive name in the world of high-end jewellery, has its roots in Russia but today bears a French flavour. It all began some 145 years ago, when Joseph Marchak, a 14-year-old lad from Kiev, Russia, began to apprentice in a jewellery workshop. At 24, the skilled and hardworking Joseph decided to strike out on his own. While youth was on his side, he believed in the power of self faith, and invested all that he had – including the 100 roubles he had received as part of his dowry from his young wife – to create jewellery.
A year later, Joseph’s business began to flourish and soon, he earned a name as one of the most innovative jewellers of his time. The years of 1880-1917 were the golden age of the Franco-Russian diplomatic relations. In 1890, Joseph undertook his first journey to France – and certainly that was not the last. After each visit, he would come back recharged, brimming with new ideas and investing in newer technologies for jewellery making.
In 1913, Marchak became the official jeweller of Tsar Nicolas II in Kiev. All the official gifts presented for the 300th anniversary of the Romanov’s Royal House bore the signature of the jeweller. It was an historic milestone in the jeweller’s career that earned him the sobriquet “the Cartier of Kiev”.
Sadly, Joseph Marchak died prematurely at the age of 64. The troublesome world-changing events – World War I and the Russian Revolution – forced a number of Russians to escape to Europe, and so did the Marchak family, who quietly bundled out Joseph’s last bejewelled creations wrapped in their clothes. Joseph’s son, Joachim, greeted them in Paris.
It was the beginning of a new era for Marchak. The roaring twenties had begun. It was time to party and celebrate unabashedly. Alexander Marchak, the youngest son of Joseph, who had studied at the Beaux arts and arts déco in Paris, established a shop in the rue de La Paix, number 4, right next to Place Vendôme, a renowned luxury destination for high fashion brands and couture jewellery. In the beginning, Alexander partnered with Robert Linzeler, and produced one-off pieces amalgamating art déco motifs with Russian sensibilities, and creating stunning geometric forms. His reputation grew rapidly and he won several prizes at the 1925 Paris arts déco exhibition. Marchak soon became famous for its birds, butterflies and flower brooches and multicoloured fans.
Post world war II, Alexander Diringer, a sketcher, long-known in rue de la Paix, joined Marchak, followed by Jacques Verger, who was a fabulous designer, who kept the spirit of Marchak alive. Jacques set out to conquer America and gave his clients colourful, luxurious jewellery. His signature rings were worn high-up on the finger, pavéd with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Marchak became famous for the clustered, undulating brooches adorned with multicoloured gems with nature motifs.
A favourite of His majesty Hassan II, Marchak also had a huge fan following. The jeweller catered to the Romanov family, opera singer Régine Crespin, Nina Ricci, American families like the Vanderbilts and Halles and many more.
In 1988, Marchak closed shop. today, Daniel Marchac, a great grandson of Marchak has re-opened and established the jewellery house. On the design team are two supremely talented artists – Dominique de Blanchard, a Parisian who owns a workshop set up in 1830 that once designed for Marchak, and Bertrand Degommier, who had been designing for the jewellery house since 1958. Degommier lends the Russian aesthetics to new designs.
Today, the jewellery salon continues to create timeless and fanciful jewels that are a joy to behold. Marchak’s emblem, the turtle, symbolises longevity, and has brought in permanent glory to the jewellery house that has outlived its creators.