The young Raymond C. Yard entered the world of the jewelry in 1898 at 13 years of age as a door boy for Marcus & Company. Yard did not remain a door boy for too long. Over the course of about two decades, he was introduced to a wide variety of tasks related to running a jewelry business. He received on-the-job training in the production of jewelry pieces and learned how to sell the finished pieces to an elite customer base.
By the time he was in his 30’s, Yard had risen to the rank of expert salesman, catching the attention of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller believed that this young man had all the makings of an entrepreneur and challenged Yard to create an exquisite line of jewelry pieces. Rockefeller’s support brought customers to the business.
Yard’s design worked with platinum mountings and Art Deco style and frequently mixed a variety of diamond cuts to create unique rays of light.
In the 1920’s Yard birthed one of his most distinctive designs; realistic and whimsical rabbit characters using exquisite gems. The rabbits all embodied different personas including rabbit brides, rabbit sailors and rabbit fisherman. The most famous is the Cocktail Rabbit, holding a tray of martinis. It is easy to say that Yard’s pieces are very recognizable. The rabbit brooches still occasionally make it into auctions or private sales.
Where the inspiration for Yard’s rabbit brooches came from, no one really knows. It is theorized that the design may have been inspired by the many popular books at that time featuring rabbits:
Alice in Wonderland
The Velveteen Rabbit
But what about the ever-popular Cocktail Rabbit collection? Enthusiasts speculate that these brooches were humorous metaphors for the outlawed liquor during America’s Prohibition time period.