Black, Starr & Frost
Black Starr & Frost trace their roots back to 1810 in New York of ‘Marquand & Paulding’ by Isaac Marquand at 164 Broadway New York, NY. Marquand sold a variety of goods including silverware and jewelry from a small private office and was well known in the timepiece community. The business grew and changed both the name and the location. In 1833 the firm had a street level premises and installed and began to focus on the retail side of the business. Then in 1851 the company became Ball, Black & Co. They were of a handful of American jewelers to exhibit at The Great Exhibition in London’s Crystal Palace. Their display included a four piece tea service crafted of gold. America’s First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln became a frequent shopper. When her husband died in 1865, she owed the firm $64,000. In 1874 the company reorganized and Cortlandt W. Starr was promoted to partner alongside Aaron Frost thereby forming the famous name Black, Starr & Frost. Things were good for BSF and just two years later they moved locations to Fifth Avenue. That same year they exhibited alongside Tiffany & Co. (their primary competitor) at the Centennial Exposition here in Philadelphia which was the first time America had played host to an International World’s Fair! They excelled in reputation both for popular styles and quality of work through the 1920s and 1930s. They even started to move towards more pronounced pieces. One of the most famous stones was the Portuguese Diamond, a near flawless octagonal step cut stone weighing 127.01cts which the company bought in Paris. They sold it in 1928 to the actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce who was already an established client. She wore it frequently, set in the center of a diamond line necklace. Black Starr & Frost attracted movie stars and Royal families as well as dignitaries. This helped them capture the attention of the social elite such as the Vanderbilt's, the Guggenheim's and even the Carnegie's. In 1939 they began merging with the Gorham Corporation and added their name to the end, The even added a Palm Beach location. They continued to grow and eventually had a total of thirty-three locations in 1991. This expansion was largely initiated by a group of investors who had purchased the company in 1962 which returned the name to Black, Starr & Frost. The company changed hands several times and in 2006 had just one location left. This was purchased by The Molina Group.