Raymond C. Yard Early Years
Raymond C. Yard was born in Montclair, NJ on April 18, 1885 to a working-class family. His father’s premature death prompted Yard to drop out of school early to contribute to family finances. He was quickly hired as a messenger and doorboy at Marcus & Co., the famed American jeweler based in New York City. At the age of thirteen, Yard unknowingly launched himself into a lifelong career in jewelry.
At Marcus & Co., a young Raymond worked quickly through the ranks, and by his early 30s, he was a highly sought-after salesperson. It was here that he was exposed to the details of jewelry production and the clientele of the high-end jewelry world. Many of America’s affluent, industrial families patronized Marcus & Co., where they worked directly with Yard. In fact, it was John D. Rockefeller who encouraged Raymond to leave Marcus & Co. to pursue his own venture in 1922.
Through word of mouth by families like the Rockefellers, Yard was able to build a personal clientele base from the very start of his own firm. His Fifth Avenue storefront saw over 1,000 clients within its first year, prompting him to move to a larger space down the road. The Woolworth, du Pont, Vanderbilt and Harriman families were regular clients, and they shared their love of Yard's work with their friends. Stars like Douglass Fairbanks and Joan Crawford frequently commissioned work with Raymond Yard, too.
Interpersonally, Yard was highly regarded for being a very fair and kind man. Professionally, he was best known for always using the highest quality jewels and favoring platinum settings. His clients respected his perfectionism and ability to turn a stone into a truly special creation. During wartime, when non-military use of platinum was banned, he creatively used yellow and white golds and semiprecious stones to adapt his designs. Contemporary Raymond Yard jewelry creations often feature moonstones and aquamarines, a distinct nod to Yard’s adaptions in the 1940s.
Yard had a special ability to reset gemstones, breathing new life into his clients’ family heirlooms and creating rare gems jewelry that would continue to be passed down throughout many generations. Not only was he able to create commissioned works from scratch for his grand clientele, but he also had a talent for embracing the past to create something new.
Legacy Under Robert Gibson & His Son
In 1937, Yard met a 17-year-old Robert Gibson at the popular Winged Foot Golf Club where Gibson worked as a caddy. Yard somewhat adopted Gibson, becoming a mentor and father figure to the young man. A few decades later, Yard would entrust his entire company to Gibson. Yard retired in 1958 after some sixty years in the jewelry business. Robert Gibson took the reins, and, from there, he passed the firm onto his son, Bob Gibson, in 1989.
Bob Gibson has continued to display the impeccable standards that Raymond Yard started. By utilizing the previous Art Deco designs by Yard, Bob Gibson has revitalized the brand while staying true to its artistic vision. The firm continues to be highly regarded for its impeccable gemstones, unique and artistic settings and platinum designs. Today the firm operates out of Greenwich, Connecticut. Bob Gibson uses the extensive archives left by Yard for modern-day inspiration.