Renowned French jewelry house famous for its cloisonné enameling and Japanese-inspired designs. The firm’s history begins in 1832 when Alexis Falize (1811-1898) began an apprenticeship with Parisian jeweler Mellerio dit Meller. An eager pupil, Falize quickly learned all aspects of the trade: manufacturing, chasing, engraving, design, sales, and bookkeeping. Looking to improve his marriage prospects, he left Mellerio in 1835 for Janisset. In 1838, he left Janisset to open up his workshop. “Such were the beginnings,” wrote Henri Vever, “of this highly talented jeweler, whose work as a designer and manufacturer was so significant.” Vever credited Falize with revitalizing jewelry and the decorative arts during Napoleon III’s reign (1852-1870). His specialty was “artistic” jewelry: jewelry featuring semi-precious gemstones, intricate metal work, and enameling.
When Falize retired in 1876, his son Lucien expected control of the workshops. Having trained with his father for the previous two decades, Lucien was a competent successor: a highly skilled enamellist, goldsmith, and designer. His obsession with past era, especially the Renaissance and Japanese art matched, if not surpassed, that of his father. In 1878, Falize won a grand prize for his jewelry as well as a coveted Legion of Honor Cross at Paris’s International Exposition.
In 1878, he joined forces with descendants of Bapst, the former French Crown Jewelers, to create jewelry for Paris’s wealthy aristocrats. Until 1892, Bapst et Falize (Bapst & Falize) enjoyed great prosperity. Around that time, Falize helped to theorize the burgeoning Art Nouveau movement, contributing articles to Samuel Bing’s monthly journal Le Japon Artistique. “Jewelers, led by Lucien Falize, seized on the simplicity of form, the intensity and clarity of color of Japanese enamels, and the intriguing effect of mixed metal work…These were the very attributes of Art Nouveau jewels.” (Becker)
When Lucien suddenly died in 1897, his sons (André, Jean, and Pierre) continued the business as Falize Frères. They produced beautiful Art Nouveau pieces, winning two grand prizes at Paris’ International Exhibition in 1900.