Sunday, 28 September 2014

LAPADA Review: amazing 1883 BOUCHERON peacock feather necklace

The joy of this Sunday morning!!!!, sunny London, a run in Hyde Park and a visit to the Lapada Antiques Fair in Berkeley Square to find this extremely rare and magnificent XIX century diamond necklace by Boucheron at Sandra Cronan's stall. Well done!

1883 Boucheron diamond emerald and sapphire necklace

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

PARIS BIENNALE: amazing aquamarine Art Deco bracelet by Jean Fouquet

Jean Fouquet, Art Deco Aquamarine, diamond and enamel bracelet, Paris 1926

During the Art Deco period of the early 1910s to late 1930s emerged a movement that stripped away unnecessary decoration, implemented simple forms, and found inspiration in the modern machine. This new avant-garde movement attracted a select group of artists known as the bijoutiers-artistes, or artist-jewelers, who focused on a modern aesthetic rather than material value. A group of artists, including artist-jewelers Raymond Templier, Jean Dunand, Jean Després, Gerard Sandoz, and Georges and Jean Fouquet formed the Union des Artistes Modernes as a reaction to the prevailing artistic movements of the times. A chief proponent of this movement, Jean Fouquet was a purist who believed in excellent workmanship and having his designs consistently reflecting his aesthetic.

This bracelet is a perfect blend of Fouquet's modern taste with the pristine excellence of fine jewelry. Fouquet, who preferred using semi-precious stones, cleverly combined unusual materials together with the use of large step-cut aquamarines within a ground of geometric enamel sections, then accented by bands of pavé-set diamonds that appear to be woven into the enamel pieces. The large surfaces of black enamel bring fluidity to the bracelet connecting the various gemstones and geometric shapes in this superbly designed bold jewel.

Jean Fouquet's audacious and innovative designs for his father were created only for a short time from 1925 to 1931. This bracelet, designed in 1926 just after the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, is a seminal work of Art Deco design, complete with the original drawing and the original case. Fouquet was inspired by the form of the cuff bracelet and its ability to be seen from afar, he once said, “A piece of jewelry must be composed of masses clearly visible from a distance.” He explained, “Objects glimpsed at top speed become distorted and we can only perceive them by their volume . . . Today we have become accustomed to reading quickly.” This bracelet leaves a striking impression upon the viewer and is an exceptional example of abstract sculpture. The piece is made even more incredible when worn on the wrist. This magnificent bracelet embodies the avant-garde spirit of Art Deco design.

Jean Fouquet's drawing

Maison Fouquet was founded in Paris in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet, who exhibited jewelry inspired by sphinxes and chimeras at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1895, he was succeeded by his son, Georges, a designer and shrewd businessman respected among his peers and a commander of the Légion d'Honneur. At the turn of the century, graphic designer Alphonse Mucha created imaginative jewels for the company. Jean Fouquet joined the family firm in 1920, designing avant-garde jewelry based on rectilinear precepts. After the firm closed in February 1936, he worked on commissions for private clients.

It will be offered for sale by Siegelson at the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

An extremely rare "orange tree" Art Deco brooch by CARTIER

The "Important Jewels" spring auction season is reaching its height this coming weeks with London, NY and Geneva sales. A few days ago we saw Bonhams NY selling a rare Art Deco brooch by Cartier at a record price multiple of more than twenty times the estimate. This coming week, the same house is featuring an even rarer Cartier design: a 1914 coloured "orange tree" brooch. Yet again, the estimate is £15,000 to £20,000, can't wait to see where it ends!

A rock crystal and gem-set "Orange Tree" brooch, by Cartier, 1914

There are several reasons why this tiny piece is so rare and none of them have to do with the stones. This piece is all about daring design and convention challenging. The brooch was made in 1914, almost eleven years before the Paris Art Decoratives exhibition took place, so the use of bold colours itself is already very innovative for its time. A green foil behind the carve rock crystal, the use of citrine, emerald and rubies in the same piece are almost provocative in a piece signed by Cartier back then. There is no individual signature by the designer but everything points towards Charles Jacqueau, one of the most famous designers that has worked for the Maison, and chief responsible for its transition to Art Deco from the white jewellery of the Belle Epoque and the Garland Style. The other element that points towards Jacqueau is the black onix and white diamond geometrical combination, he was responsible for the groundbreaking "panther" watch design made in that same year of 1914 also by Cartier.

The piece will be auctioned by Bonham's London next April 30th. We will be there!

Catalogue notes

  • Provenance
    Gifted to Elizabeth Corbett on her wedding day in 1941 by Lady Jean Ward, granddaughter of Darius Ogden Mills, US financier and philanthropist and once the richest man in California.
    Direct descent to the present owner.

    This is a rare example of Cartier's "Orange Tree" design and was created by Cartier Paris in 1914. Although it is difficult to attribute surviving Cartier jewels to individual designers due to the firm's policy of anonymity, this small brooch, standing just 3.3cm high, incorporates a myriad of innovative design influences and technical innovations, all characteristic of Cartier's pioneering designer Charles Jacqueau (1885-1968). After joining the firm in 1909, Jacqueau guided Cartier away from the Garland Style, advocating bold colours in inventive, contemporary designs that would set it apart from its competitors artistically. Jacqueau borrowed liberally from other cultures in his design repertoire; motifs from Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, Greek and Chinese civilizations were all thrown into the melting pot. His sketches from nature in the Jardins des Plantes were translated into miniature gemstone plants, earning him the nickname "Jacqueau la Fleur". Jacqueau regularly visited the Louvre and drew inspiration from the exhibits there; perhaps the painting "Madonna della Vittoria" (1495), depicting Saint Elizabeth and the little Saint John under lemon and orange trees on which birds perch, helped to inspire the "Orange Tree" line.

    One of Cartier Paris' earliest "Orange Tree" brooches was made in 1913; it is similar to this example in being of two-dimensional, highly stylised form incorporating birds' head motifs, but here the similarity ends. Whereas the 1913 brooch is monochromatic, almost entirely set with white diamonds offset by a few onyx highlights, this brooch, made a year later, bursts with colour combinations and different shapes and cuts of gemstone. 1913 was a pivotal year for Cartier: Jacqueau's obsession with the bright colours in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes had reached its zenith - Nadelhoffer notes how his colleagues in the design studio playfully drew caricatures of him dressed as Isadora Duncan in billowing robes - allowing the firm to finally break free from the constraints of the Garland Style. In November 1913, Cartier showcased fifty new jewelled creations at their New York premises, which they described as "from the Hindoo, Persian, Arab, Russian and Chinese". This "Orange Tree" brooch of 1914 clearly demonstrates the new influences at play in its use of gemstones of different shape, colour, cut and texture, from the carved rock crystal applied over a green foil, to the buff-top calibré-cut citrines, and the use of shaped onyx, which had been introduced into Cartier's designs from 1910, and which lent structure and contrast to so many of its Art Deco pieces. In addition, the brooch displays the maker's mark of Henri Picq, Cartier's main workshop supplier between 1900 and 1918, renowned for their high-quality platinum and who would later execute many of the "Tutti Frutti" pieces of which the brooch is surely a very early forerunner.

    See Hans Nadelhoffer "Cartier Extraordinary", Thames & Hudson, 1984, black and white photograph No 109, a similar orange tree brooch, 1913, by Cartier Paris. See also plate 11, an "orange tree" hatpin in carved rock crystal with onyx and diamond fruits, dated 1926.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

CARTIER: Record breaking (and breathtaking) Art Deco brooch sold at Bonham's auction in NY

A gem-set, diamond and enamel brooch, Cartier, circa 1925, designed as a coral and onyx bead fan motif, suspending a rock crystal ring, enhanced by circular-cut diamonds; signed Cartier; estimated total diamond weight: 3.50 carats; mounted in platinum; length: 2 1/4in. Sold for $317,000; Est. $15,000-25,000

This is one the rarest collector pieces that I have come across in a very long time. The fan design by Cartier is extremely unusual, not so much for its clear Deco elements like the materials combination and the geometrical shape but for the rock crystal ring attached to it. And now, for its price, as well!.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Gemstone Series: January GARNETS

Today is my birthday… so I had no choice but to continue the gemstone series with January’s birthstone: the garnet. From the rich burgundy red of Pyrope garnets, the vibrant green of Tsavorite garnets and to the orange hues of Spessartite garnets and so many others…

Floral cuff bracelet from the Chopard in titanium, set with 25.48ct green tsavorites

Hemmerle brooch in white gold, copper and silver with garnets, diamonds and sapphires
Garnet is derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. 

Brooch Date- 1860–79 Culture- British Medium- gold, garnet Metropolitan Museum of Art
Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.

CARTIER African Influences – High Jewelry Earrings White gold, two cabochon-cut mandarin garnets of 24.21 ct

Panthère de Cartier High Jewelry bracelet Platinum, one 63.55-carat cabochon-cut spessartite garnet, garnets, onyx, obsidian, emerald, diamonds

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Gemstone Series: Collecting AMAZONITE

Amazonite is a green variety of feldspar whose name comes from the Amazon river. It is a rare mineral that sometimes has even been used as a gemstone given its striking colour once polished.

Amazonite, diamond, ruby, demantoid-garnet and gold snake brooch, c.1870; the coiled snake is a symbol of eternity

Amazonite Box by BOLIN Moscow, Russia 1899-1908

Amazonite Modernist Parure - French, c.1915

Cartier Art Deco Amazonite necklace, 1925

Discovering ZOE and MORGAN

The history of Zoe & Morgan is a story of design and of family. From a childhood spent travelling the globe with their parents, many exotic cultures made a lasting impression, particularly their emigration to New Zealand from England by sea. Taking in the foreign lands of Panama, Jamaica, and Tahiti along the way gave the three Sibbald children an appreciation of old world charm, adventure and style.

Watching their father make jewellery in his own workshop ingrained in them from an early age an appreciation of the craft, the process; watching the primordial materials transform to become precious, coveted items of beauty and sentiment.

With this upbringing it was no surprise the three siblings were drawn to the creative and atypical. Zoe worked in millenary, Morgan forged pathways through music, Ruth plied her trade in the modelling industry.

After a fateful trip to India, Morgan returned from his travels as his late father so often did; with an appreciation for another culture and a pocketful of precious gems. Sharing his finds with Zoe, this reawakened a shared love of the process they witnessed so often as children. Before long the two were collaborating on the first pieces that would lead to the formation of Zoe & Morgan.

Available at Benna

Sunday, 29 December 2013

FERNANDO JORGE: sensual Brazil meets cool London

Brazilian jeweller Fernando Jorge has unsurprisingly become the wonder boy of the contemporary jewellery scene in just three years since he graduated from St. Martins in London. Fernando landed in Europe with a baggage full of incredibly original drawings, ten years of jewellery experience in Brazil and a unique knowledge of local craftsmen and stones. With this background, it cannot come as a huge surprise that his talent was sotted and recognised almost immediately. He was quickly snapped by iconic agent Valery de Mure and selected for the prestigious Rock Vault group and won the British Fashion Council award in 2012. Besides his well deserved success, the best feature about Fernando is his jewellery. His "fluid" pieces combine semiprecious gemstones like calcite with delicate rose gold snake chain in ultra sensuous designs; the "electric" series is modern glamour in a punk fashion with black gold set with a unique combination of sapphires and blue topaz or all white set in opals. His Gemfields emerald collection combines the best elements of his work so far, the fluid snake chain design with the irregular shaped stones that transmit so much energy to the pieces. And so, one could continue mentioning all of his innovative ideas, like the use of blue john (a rare english stone) in fine jewellery. Most certainly we will be watching!.

Fernando Jorge electric ring set in black gold with sapphires and blue topaz

Fernando Jorge ring set with Blue John

Fernando Jorge Gemfields emerald and diamond earrings

Fernando Jorge fluid earrings detail

Fernando Jorge by Vogue Brazil

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

CARTIER Mystery Clocks… unveiled

What's Houdini got to do with timepieces? Plenty as it turns out. Not Harry Houdini himself, but the original artist and watch inventor who he took his stage name from. That man is Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, the man who designed the mystery clock. Houdin was a self-taught magician and engineer who was fascinated by the idea of the disappearing act and sleight of hand tricks. His work involved the use of transparent glass displays and hidden mechanisms that connected to the display of the clocks he built, and won renown for its inventiveness. Many of his clocks involved hiding the gear train within the clock base, which was then connected via a rod or serrated glass or crystal dial to the display, creating the illusion that the clock ran without any additional wheels. During the 19th and early 20th century, mystery clocks were highly popular among the elite, who found it a fascinating design. 

Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin Mystery Clocks c.1850

Originally inspired by the work Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the first Mystery Clocks were designed for (Louis) Cartier in 1913 by Maurice Couet and known as the “Model A.” They featured rotating rock crystal discs to which hands were mounted to indicate the hours and minutes. The rock crystal allows the viewer to see right through the clock, which seemingly has no perceptible means for the hands to move. The mechanism by which the crystal discs turn is invisibly powered by gears hidden in the frame of the clock, while the base of the clock conceals the main body of its mechanical movement. For decades the “Pendule Mystérieuses” or “Mystery Clocks” have captured the imagination. The cost and complexity of the mystery clocks has meant that, over the years, few examples have been made and they achieve astronomical prices every time they come out in auction. 

Cartier Mystery Clock set with Citrine in Black Jade and enamel
Cartier Mystery Clock set in Quartz

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Gemstone Series: Collecting AGATE

The Agate is a semi precious gemstone that was discovered over 3000 years ago by greek philosopher and naturalist Theophrastus, on the shore of the river Achates. It belongs to the mineral family of the Chalcedonies, a type of quartz like Aventurine, Carnelian and Onix. Agate when cut exhibits a series of lines and different colours that make it strikingly attractive. This gemstone has been used in art objects and jewellery for centuries. It was very popular in traditional Scottish silver and gold jewellery, specially used in brooches and buckles combining different colour agate. Black and botswana agate was priced in Victorian jewellery and almost any single colour variety was used during the Art Deco period, from green, black and white to auburn jasper agate. In contemporary jewellery Agate has experienced a huge revival and it is used in almost every costume collection as well as by fine jewellery makers like Kimberly McDonald to masters like JAR.

Antique Victorian Banded Agate & Pearl Bangle Bracelet in 18k Gold 

Gold tiara by Carlo Guiliano supporting a stylized wreath of banded agate laurel leaves and pearl berries; the front takes the form of a rosette of similarly carved petals centring on a single pearl. London, c. 1860
Art Deco Jasper Agate & Diamond Pin / c. 1920
JAR, Agate and diamond brooch