This magnificent brooch depicting an orchid is by Stanley Hagler. Stanley was born in Denver, Colorado in 1923, he graduated with a degree in law from Colorado university in 1949 after his war service. He initially worked for Miriam Haskell as a business advisor. In the early 1950s he was challenged to create a piece of jewellery ‘fit for a queen’. He created a gold-plated bangle encrusted with miniature pearls and other non-precious stones and materials which was sent to Wallis Simpson (Duchess of Windsor). Wallis was delighted and went on to commission a number of other pieces.
Gold-plated bangle in the style created for Wallis Simpson
Following this success Stanley set up his own jewellery business with Edward Nakles in 1953, in New York, Greenwich Village. In 1956 the Denver Post described his jewellery as ‘opulent and provocative’. In 1983 the company moved to Florida and not long after Ian St. Gielar joined as chief designer. Stanley died in 1995, having retired from the company a few years earlier. In 1996 Ian St Gielar re-registered the company as ‘Stanley Hagler N.Y.C., he died in March 2007 following complication after a car accident and his wife Valentina took over the company.
Stanley Hagler jewellery is flamboyant and extravagant in style and construction. Dozens of individual hand-blown beads were dipped up to 15 times in pearl resin to achieve maximum shine, were then wired together to form the intricate designs. Swarovski crystals, Murano glass and Russian gold-plated filigree were also regularly used in designs. A particular characteristic of a Stanley Hagler brooch is the highly decorative filigree back.
Stanley described his work as ‘just plain pretty’ – they sure are, whether you are looking at the front or the back.
There are more than 25,000 documented species of Orchid.
Illustration of orchid diversity from Kunstformen de Nature, by Ernst Haeckel (1899)