After a two-year absence Seaman Schepps has returned to Manhattan, with a big, bright store at 69th and Madison Avenue designed to bring the heritage and history of the 118-year-old jeweler into the 21st century.
The bi-level boutique is “four times the size” of its previous Park Avenue boutique, where the brand was housed for 60 years, says Anthony Hopenhajm, who acquired the brand 40 years ago.
Led by renowned interior designer, Penny Drue Baird, who divides her time between Paris and New York, the goal was to turn the space on 824 Madison Ave. into a Parisian salon where clients could relax in a comfortable, intimate setting.
To do this Baird chose to go with a soft blue/beige color palette that allow design accents to pop and shine throughout the store. Design highlights include an Italian Rococo mirror from the 1850s, a Baccarat steel and crystal chandelier, and a unique angled vitrine, all of which graced the previous location.
“There’s no stand-up bar,” Hopenhajm says. “I want people to feel as if they are coming into my living room to sit and enjoy conversation and each other’s company. A place for friends to gather.”
A spiral staircase, painted in a faux steel and warm walnut finish leads to the lower level which houses a vault of historic pieces and more than 5,000 original jewelry sketches, which the brand uses to produce its latest jewels. Many of these drawings include the name of the client for whom the piece was designed. The clientele over the years included renowned editor and publisher, Blanche Knopf, the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and American opera diva, Marguerite Wenner-Gren. Andy Warhol was an avid collector.
Hopenhajm says this is the first time he has a dedicated space to celebrate the history of the company.
For example, it will be the first time in 15 years that pieces originally created for American heiress Doris Duke will be on display including a grape cluster brooch with a mix of pale and highly colored sapphires, a large pave diamond leaf, additional leaves with engraved emeralds and sapphire and a diamond bracelet Duke would often pair with the brooch.
The lower level also serves as a private event space where invited guests can peruse this history at intimate gatherings.
This new store also has nearly 50 feet of windows. Hopenhajm says he will use this for seasonal displays for jewels paired with natural objects, such as wood, stone and shells, with a backdrop of original watercolor paintings by artist Diana Heimann.
Its former boutique on Park Avenue and 58th was a gathering place for New York society and international style icons for 60 years. Hopenhajm closed the store in 2020 when Hopenhajm was unable to renegotiate the lease with the property’s landlord during the Covid pandemic. The jewelry brand turned its full attention to its other two locations in Palm Beach, Fla., and Nantucket, Mass., and its eCommerce website.
Hopenhajm acquired Seaman Schepps in 1992. All pieces are set in 18k or 22k gold and are designed and produced at Trianon, a New York jewelry workshop owned by Hopenhajm that is known for its high-quality cufflinks.
The classic designs such as its iconic shell earrings and its colorful mixture of gems and other materials remain in the collection and are mixed with more contemporary pieces. All the designs are based on original drawings.
Hopenhajm says Seaman Schepps and Trianon share an aesthetic of combining diamonds, gems, precious metals and unusual materials—such as wood and jade—to produce multi-colored sculptural pieces that reflect a classic New York style.
“The strength of Seaman Shepps is that women are buying jewelry that looks good on them and is flattering, rather than jewelry that just reflects family achievement,” Hopenhajm says. “Our jewelry is about someone putting their outfit together and how they view their personal style and taste.”