THE MARCHAK SAGA
140 YEARS OF HISTORY
Kiev, 1878. Joseph Marchak, a jeweler, founded his workshop and moved to the center of Kiev a year later. He very varied pieces and quickly became successful. His boutique-workshop on the first floor of the building attracted customers from all over the Russian empire. The workshop steadily kept growing and in 1899, one hundred and fifty workers were employed in the factory. The store was now located on the first floor. The year 1913 marked his recognition: Joseph Marchak became one of the suppliers of the Tsar Nicolas II. He then was one of the most famous jewelers of the Imperial Russia and was soon called "the Cartier of Kiev".
In 1919 his son Alexander moved to Paris and he opened a boutique on rue Cambon. He cared to revive the Slavic spirit through his colorful collections and his cocktail rings. In 1922 he formed a short-lived partnership with Robert Linzeler and moved to rue de la Paix. In 1946, he hired Jacques Verger who later became his partner and went on developing the brand in the United States after the war. Verger came from a family of jewelers and watchmakers and was passionate about jewelry. In the 1960s, he became friends with His Majesty Hassan II and renewed the brand's ties to prestigious orders. Although Verger closed the store in 1988, an heir of the family, Daniel Marchac, proud of his family history and heritage, took over the name in 2005: Marchak was a signature he deeply cared for and he wanted her to see it shine in the French jewelry panorama. It is the story of a secular Slavic brand whose creations reflect its atypical spirit all the while concerned with keeping up with the workmanship of the Parisian high jewelry.
Discover now in detail the history of this family saga...
Joseph Marchak in Kiev, 1868
Joseph was only fourteen years old when he left his parents to begin his jewelry apprenticeship in Kiev. Ten years later, he set up his own business and the hundred rubles of his young wife's dowry not being enough, he pawned his only suit in order to make a gold chain... A year later, business was good, his reputation started to grow and his production diversified. The jeweler's chainmaker days were already far. Jewelry, clocks, silverware, Joseph never ceased creating and innovating. In 1899, one hundred and fifty workers worked in his workshops and his Kiev boutique on Khreshchatyk Avenue.
1913: Tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty
Joseph was now compared to Fabergé and he was never tired of improving. He travelled extensively and participated in numerous exhibitions in Europe and in the United States. During the visit of Tsar Nicholas II to Kiev, all the official gifts for the tercentenary celebrations of the Romanov dynasty were signed by his name. Recognized by his peers and everyone, the self-made man who made a name for himself was soon dubbed "the Cartier of Kiev". He became the undisputed rival of the famous Fabergé.
Parution dans AGB en 1924.
Bague Art Déco, crédit photo Macklowe Gallery.
1919, arrival in Paris: Alexander Marchak
In 1918, sensing a disaster, Joseph sent his entire family to France. They joined his son Alexandre who just graduated at the Paris' Beaux-Arts. Alexander first opened a store on rue Cambon and then moved to 4, rue de la Paix where Linzeler had his boutique. His talent was to create collections in keeping with times. Thanks to him, Marchak was one of the first to launch the so-called 'cocktail' rings and many of his creations are still highly sought after in auctions.
Linzeler-Marchak: a partnership
Between 1922 and 1926, Robert Linzeler joined forces with Alexander and even if the partnership was short-lived, it was the occasion for extraordinary Art Deco pieces such as this vanity case sold by Christie's, whose maker's mark is Lacloche Frères, a beautiful testimony to the spirit of an era. The red enamel and mother-of-pearl create a Chinese dragon enhanced with ruby and sapphire cabochons. In 1925 they won the 4th Grand Prix at the 1925 Decorative Arts Exhibition.
Vogue, advert, 1936
Clip circa 1940, photo credit Aponem
1930 to 1950: troubled times
Unlike his father, Alexander chose to rely on the expertise of partner craftsmen. About twenty Parisian workshops have worked for Marchak throughout the twentieth century. An excellent creator, Alexander developed his brand with passion.
But the terrifying turmoil of history forced him into exile. During the war, the family took refuge in Savoie and Alexander left the management of the boutique to the director.
1950: after the war
Alexander Marchak was a better creative director than he was a businessman yet he knew to surround himself with valuable assets. In 1946, he hired Jacques Verger as a salesman and Alexandre Diringer as a designer. Diringer had worked at Cartier and was specialized in watchmaking and Verger proved to be an excellent businessman. In 1957 Alexander handed the management of the boutique over to him and Verger put all his energy into developing the brand's reputation in the United States, namely New York, Chicago and Cleveland. He came from a family of jewelers and watchmakers and he loved jewelry passionately ; he has a talent above all: that of recognizing between a thousand designs the most promising creation! He could smell the air of time and knew the taste of his clients.
1960: Jacques Verger and the King of Morocco
Marchak had developed a prestigious clientele, French and foreign celebrities. The Vanderbilt family, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, the opera singer Régine Crespin, but also Nina Ricci and Madeleine Renaud.
In the 1960s, Jacques Verger crossed paths with the man who would become a very loyal friend, King Hassan II of Morocco. If Joseph Marchak had become one of the official suppliers of Tsar Nicolas II, Jacques Verger made Marchak one of the official jewelers for the official and private gifts of the Hassan II.
At the end of the 1980s, Jacques Verger thought of moving on. On a whim, he decided in 1988 to close the store, and in doing so made an irreparable mistake: he didn't care about the archives and parted with them one evening after the store closed for the night.
By chance Bertrand Degommier, creator and partner since the 60's, came back to the workshop, discovered what had happened, and managed to save a great number of gouache designs. Unfortunately, the order books and customer books were irretrievably lost. Marchak then began a long period of dormancy...
Selection of gouache designs that M. Degommier saved in 1988.
1997: Dr. Daniel Marchac
Dr. Daniel Marchac was a plastic surgeon, specialized in infant craniofacial surgery and nothing predestined him to take over a jewelry brand. When the idea came to him, he chose to surround himself with experts and enthusiasts. He had already registered the brand in 1989 and decided to relaunch the sleeping beauty whose history had fascinated him since childhood. A salon opened in 2003 near the Palais Royal and the company participated in many international trade shows. The connoisseurs and collectors were there, especially in the United States.
2020: second wind
After having launched various collaborations: a boutique in Moscow at the Ukraina Hotel, a partnership in South Korea and in China, the brand has found a second wind at a new address. It has found its clientele, it has forged strong links with the players of the antique jewelry trade and it has regained its place in the world of jewelry: more than a brand, it is a signature.
An intimate, family-owned brand, Marchak has stood the test of time, proving its timelessness and its spirit of independence, asserting its total creative freedom through its unique creations, custom pieces and its daywear Petites Collections. This is the story of a centuries-old Ukrainian household name born under the Russian Empire whose jewelry illustrate a bold spirit and the tradition of Parisian fine jewelry making.