From humble beginnings to society patriarch, Emanuel Gattle enjoyed a lustrous career as one of Manhattan’s most respected jewelers.
From Plattsburgh to New York City
Emanuel M. Gattle was born on December 11, 1858, in Plattsburg, New York, where he was educated in the public school system. At the age of 19, he left home for New York City. Four years later, in 1881, he opened his eponymous jewelry store at the corner of Broadway and Twenty-seventh Street. He quickly found success in his chosen profession, and in 1900, moved to 420 Fifth Avenue, into a building that was constructed under his direction. Later, he would move to 630 Fifth Avenue, opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Finally, in 1926, he transferred his business to the St. Regis Hotel, where it remained until the firm’s last day of business.
Designing for Society’s Finest
Gattle was the jeweler of choice for many prominent members of society, as well as celebrities in stage and music circles. Among them was the renowned opera singer Enrico Caruso, who became a lifelong friend. Caruso agreed to allow Gattle the use of his name and likeness in the firm’s advertising campaigns.
Gattle created a plethora of stunning jewels during his 51-year run as one of New York’s preeminent jewelers. He had a reputation for innovative designs made from the finest materials and crafted with astonishing attention to detail. Throughout his career, Gattle produced stunning Edwardian jewels and Art Deco designs that are as breathtaking today as the day they were created.
The year 1907 proved to be especially challenging for a number of jewelry houses. The financial panic that occurred that year resulted in a slump in demand for precious stones, and many found themselves in desperate financial straits. Fortunately, Gattle & Company’s creditors realized the importance of saving the firm from bankruptcy and adopted a plan to help Gattle weather the storm. By 1909, Gattle was back on track and enjoying healthy profits once again.
Gattle & Company Advertising
A 1914 advertisement in the New York Times boasted that “Mr. Gattle has personally supervised the selection of rare stones and the designing and making of mountings. His entire effort is devoted to creating unusual jewelry. His is the only house in America – and one of the very few in the world – dealing exclusively in jewelry.”
Gattle produced a hefty catalog that same year. It was a combination wish book and selling tool. At 120 pages, it was an impressive tome, displaying the seemingly endless variety of wares the jeweler offered. As well as rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, the firm produced accessories such as mesh purses, lorgnettes, and vanity cases, fashioned in gold and platinum and studded with diamonds and colorful gemstones.
One page in the catalog was devoted to the benefits of having one’s jewelry remounted. The headline stated, “How to Have your Old Jewelry Reset in New Gattle Designs.” The client was encouraged to scour her jewelry box and look for old-fashioned styles that contained diamonds and gemstones that could be repurposed into exquisite modern jewelry. Detailed instructed explained how those gems could be repurposed and how additional stones could be furnished, if necessary, at the lowest possible cost.
The Later Years
Gattle truly mastered the Art Deco look. His platinum and diamond creations are at once classic and unique. There are many examples of the firm’s today that have lost none of their luster or value.
Emanuel Gattle died suddenly of a heart attack in 1933 at the age of 74. The company carried on a few years longer, but the firm closed its doors for good in 1940.
It was rumored that Emanuel Gattle owned the famous Hope Diamond. Gattle indeed offered $350,000 for the diamond in 1902, but his offer was refused by its owner, Simon Frankel, who was looking for half a million dollars. When the economy hit upon difficult times, Frankel was forced to sell the Hope Diamond in 1908 to a wealthy Turkish diamond collector. He received $400,000 for the gem.
- An Edwardian sapphire and diamond ring crafted in 18K yellow gold. The center sapphire cabochon features a deep shade of blue and is framed by two mine cut accent diamonds on either side
- A stickpin of 18K yellow gold displays a pretty pink conch pearl nestled in a bouquet of sparkling diamonds set in platinum
- An Art Deco ring features a cushion-shaped coral, with bands of onyx that branch out on all four sides. Brilliant diamonds rim the ring to complete the stunning look