René Jules Lalique


Lalique French Art Deco Style Crystal Ring Holder (or Pin Tray) with Frosted Squirrel Centerpiece (LEO Design)


René Jules Lalique was a French jeweler, interior decorator, medal sculptor, and (most famously) the designer and maker of luxurious decorative art glass wares during the Belle Epoque period.  He was born in Aÿ, France, in 1860 and moved with his family to Paris at the age of two.  As a teen, he took drawing classes at school, supplemented with night courses at the Ecole des arts décoratifs.  When Lalique's father died, René became an apprentice jeweler to a Parisian goldsmith. learning the trade of jewelry production.  He continued taking art classes at the Ecole des arts décoratifs.  At twenty one, René began providing freelance jewelry designs to such luminaries as Cartier and Boucheron.  At 26, Lalique founded his own jewelry workshop and opened a fabulously successful store at the age of 30.  It was now 1890, and René Lalique's Art Nouveau creations were a sensation worldwide.  Lalique's artful creations placed aesthetic value front-and-center; the actual value of the precious materials was secondary to him.

Although Lalique was a jeweler, he experimented with glass a lot—using his unique glass creations as component parts of his jewelry.  Finally, in the 1920's, Lalique (who was now in his fifties) began producing decorative glassware—much of it in his customary Art Nouveau manner, but also in the modern Art Deco style.  He made beautiful objects for stylish households: vases, bowls, perfume bottles.  Lalique produced beautiful, sculpted hood ornaments (meant to be lighted from below) for the growing number of automobile owners.  He also made custom pieces for site-specific projects, for example, the frosted glass fittings for the Anglican Church of Saint Matthew on the island of Jersey.

Lalique designed the occasional interior, including for the Orient Express and a number of French Art Deco era passenger ocean liners.

When René Lalique died in 1945, his son Marc took over.  He upgraded the glass to leaded crystal.  He also expanded the range to include more affordable objects, not just those intended for the carriage trade.

The crystal squirrel ring holder, shown above, was made by Lalique in the Sixties or Seventies.  It was meant to provide a place to store one's rings or cufflinks.  Or one could use it on the desk for clips and other office supplies.  The little squirrel is modeled in the Art Deco fashion and "frosted" (while the rest of the bowl is polished).  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248