If you love jewelry and are in the Netherlands between 4 November 2017 and 18 February 2018, you really have to visit the exhibition “Haagse Chic. Steltman. 100 jaar sieraden & zilver” (Hague Chic. Steltman. 100 Years of Jewelry and Silverware) at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. The exhibition is probably not huge, but it is easy spending some time there and admiring all the pieces being exhibited. As I previously mentioned, I was in The Hague during the opening weekend, but unfortunately was too busy with the Royal Gatherings conference to be able to go the Gemeentemuseum to have a look. Last weekend I finally managed to get back.
In 1917 master goldsmith Johannes Steltman (1891-1961) opened his own jewelry shop “Joaillerie Artistique” (Artistic Jewelry) at the Noordeinde 42a in Den Haag. He sold jewelry and silverware from other suppliers, but in 1920 started designing his own jewelry. Before 1917 Johannes Steltman had been educated at the Königliche Preussische Zeichenakademie (Royal Prussian Drawing Academy) in Hanau, Germany, and had been working for his father, a jeweller in Steenwijk, The Netherlands, and his uncle Lubbertus Steltman, who was a jeweller in Zwolle, The Netherlands. Steltman quickly attracted a wealthy and distinguished clientele.
The 1920 jewelry collection matched the quality of some of the more famous names in the sector: Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron. Apart from jewelry Steltman also designed silverware: decorative pieces for the interior and festively decked tables. In 1925 Steltman wone a bronze medal at the Exposition des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris with a tea set. As off 1928 the German drawer and designer Jean Koch takes over the direction in the atelier. Together with Steltman he designs in an international art deco style. In 1928 also the German silversmith Robert Mack started working for Steltman. In the 1950s Steltman was known for its fantastical and decorative animal figures.
In 1961, after Johannes Steltman’s death, Willem Bakker took over the business, and was later followed by his son. The designs became more modern. In the 1960s the shop was moved to the Paleisstraat. In 1973 John van der Vet bought the business after years of financial difficulties. A closing-down sale in 1974 was so successfull that it was decided to breathe new life into the company. In 1977 Fred Brom became the director of Steltman Jewellers and some years later also the owner. Steltman moved to Kneuterdijk 2a.
In 1990 the shop moved to Plaats 26. Steltman Watches opened its doors in September 1999 to Noordeinde 15, and in 2015 moved to Plaats 16. This shop is being run by Andrew Brom, while Reinier Brom is in charge of the jewelry. Steltman in 2000 reopened its own workshop. and is nowadays more specialised in diamonds and coloured gemstones. Its lotus flower motif however has constantly been used and developed until totday. In the shop you can also find pieces by international brands such as Pomellato, Mattioli Gioielli and many others. Queen Máxima is known to be a regular client and has worn several pieces of jewelry bought or designed by Steltman. Also her mother-in-law Princess Beatrix has worn their designs. In 2014 Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme presented her first own collection of jewelry, Leaves, that are also being sold by Steltman.
Over the years Steltman has been responsible for the production of several royal pieces of jewelry.
- 1937 bracelets for the bridesmaids, presents for the wedding of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard.
- 1959 diamond watch bracelet, gift by the nation to Queen Juliana on the occasion of her 50th birthday.
- 1960 ring for the 21st birthday of Princess Irene.
- 1966 wedding rings of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus.
- 2001 engagement ring for Máxima Zorreguieta.
- 2002 wedding rings for Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima.
The exhibition was designed by Maarten Spruyt and features over 250 examples of jewelry, silverware, instruments, design drawings and even pieces of the interior of the shop. Steltmans clients have been so kind to lend pieces of jewelry for this exhibition. Sometimes they have been cherished for generations, sometimes also restyled. Other pieces come from Steltmans own personal collection. At the exhibition I met a woman who had sold the silverware bought by her grandparents back to Steltman, and was very excited to find the pieces back at the exhibition. Gorgeous rings, earrings, brooches, necklaces and even a tiara made of diamonds, pearls, jade, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and many other precious stones can be seen.
The catalogue of the exhibition (Dutch) is written by Marit Eisses and can be bought at the Gemeentemuseum, bookshops like Booksellers Van Hoogstraten and also Steltman itself, for € 24,95.