Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
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Jean Lasnier ~ San Francisco

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Jean E. Lasnier, Jr.
"American Modernist" Silversmith and Jeweler

Jean Edmond Lasnier, Jr. was born June 27, 1923 into a prominent merchant family of Concordia, Kansas. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of six and unable to attend school until age 12. Nuns from the Sisters of Saint Joseph tried to teach him to read, but they were unsuccessful. Instead, at the age of 9, he taught himself when there was a particular book he wanted to read.

At the age of 17, Jean left home and migrated west. He spent time in Portland, Oregon then Oakland, California. He joined the Merchant Marine at 18, ultimately obtaining the rank of Chief Mate. One of the hobbies that helped him pass the time during the months-long voyages aboard Liberty ships was silversmithing. Other things that interested him were photography, high-fidelity audio and restoring a set of antique traveling pistols using authentic period materials.

Jean met and married Edith M. (Deedee) Lasnier (née Bell; 1924-2000) in 1953. Deedee lived in Greenwich Village, New York while he was at sea. Jean separated from the Merchant Marine when he returned from a six-week intercoastal voyage and his one-year-old son did not recognize him. Looking to support his then small family as a professional silversmith, Jean returned to the west coast settling in San Francisco and opened his first shop "Lasnier the Silversmith" on Vallejo Street in the North Beach area about 1955. After a few years, he moved the shop around the corner to Grant Avenue at the height of the San Francisco "Beat Scene". When asked about his involvement, if any, his comment was, "I was there and it happened around me." Jean was an early member of the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild, he was well acquainted with both Peter Macchiarini and Samuel Paul Gee, and while at Grant Street, employed Gee's wife Alice Jung as his shop assistant.

In 1965, he opened a shop in the newly renovated Ghirardelli Square and closed the North Beach location soon after. Finding that working in gold was more profitable, the shop name was changed to "Lasnier Goldsmiths". Jean’s signature style was "Clean Line - Contemporary" and was known for wedding and engagement sets, stone inlays and use of oxidation as a contrasting element in his silver designs. Jean only used quality materials, insisting on using 14kt plumb gold and GIA certified diamonds.

Jean gave the several artists who worked for him over the years significant freedom to refine their craft, increasing the range of designs that bore the Lasnier trademark. It was not uncommon to see one or more of his children in the shop visiting or working on a project of their own. Operating under the name "Lasnier et fille" his eldest daughter Robin Lasnier Renfort served as designer and office manager. In 1984, then "Lasnier Inc." closed the Ghirardelli Square location and opened a shop in Mill Valley, California, however this was short lived as was a shop in Ashland, Oregon. Jean retired to Petaluma, California in 1986.

The "Lasnier" trademark was used on gold and silver jewelry between about 1950 and 1986. It was used on pieces designed and fabricated by Jean E. Lasnier or by artists he employed. His personal maker’s mark was a small bell.

Jean Lasnier
martini pitcher
sterling, 1984

Jean Lasnier Maker's Mark

(maker's mark examples)
Jean Lasnier
San Francisco, CA

Jean Lasnier
handwrought cuff bracelet
sterling, c.1955

Jean Lasnier
ebony & sterling, c.1960

Jean Lasnier
cuff links
sterling & pearl, c.1960s

image courtesy of Silverman's Selected Antiques

Jean Lasnier
chain ring
gold & silver, c.1955

Jean Lasnier
earrings & neck chain
gold, c.1962

Jean Lasnier
gold & lapis, c.1980

Jean Lasnier
gold & sapphire, c.1985

Jean Lasnier

Many thanks to the Lasnier family for providing the biography and images.
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