Raymond C. Yard began his jewelry career at the young age of 13 years in 1898, as a door boy at one of the finest contemporary jewelry houses, Marcus & Co in New York City. His time at Marcus & Co. led him through various departments, so that Yard developed a profound understanding of all the important aspects of the jewelry industry. Yard’s work as a salesman led him to some popularity with the wealthy New York elite so that he quickly engaged John D. Rockefeller Jr. as his patron. With the encouragement of Rockefeller, Yard opened his shop at 522 Fifth Avenue in 1922 and began producing original designs of the highest quality.
Though his early pieces were reflections of the conventional styles of the late Edwardian and early Deco periods, Yard quickly began to set himself apart from the crowd. He was known for using only the most superior quality of gemstones, typically set in platinum. His designs often featured an enticing blend of cuts, colors and sizes, which highlighted the quality and care through their fine textural intrigue. Yard items range in style from the pleasing geometry of the Deco period, to the boldly scrolled and brightly bedecked pieces of the Retro era. Later works, especially the figurative brooches of rabbits, mice and houses, show just how brilliantly vibrant stones can complement whimsical designs.
The exceptional workmanship, design and quality made these pieces favorites with the fashionable elite. Hollywood royalty, such as the inimitable Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., were as quick to devote themselves to Yard as the Woolworth’s and Rockefellers of the New York elite had been.
From his early youth at Marcus and Company, to his retirement from the firm in 1958, Raymond Yard’s life work of producing the finest of jewels gave him phenomenal success and respect both in the industry and without. The firm was taken over by Yard’s younger protégé, Robert Gibson, who upheld the tradition of superior craftsmanship — a tradition which remains to this day. Estate jewelry by Yard has only increased in desirability. Collectors of fine estate jewelry have always recognized the magnificence of Yard’s work, in conjunction with its elite provenance and brushes with some of the most famed personalities in American history.