Saturday, 30 April 2011

A rare HEMMERLE rough emerald pendant

This is a rare pendant signed by Hemmerle. It was made in the 1970's and the main feature is the use of a rough emerald set with pave diamonds and calibre and cabochon sapphires. The use of rough gemstones was very popular during the 1960's-1970's.

Hemmerle is one of the last family owned traditional jewellers surviving today. The two brothers Joseph and Anton were appointed purveyors to the Bavarian Court in the XIX Century. Later, in 1904 they opened a  shop in Munich focused on traditional design but of exceptional quality. Today the firm is run by the fourth generation who has resisted the temptation of industrial manufacture and brand globalization.

The pendant will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 17th, although it is not an expensive jewel it should be a treasure for collectors for its scarcity.

A pair of JAR multicoloured earrings

These spectacular earrings by JAR will also be auctioned at Sotheby's Geneva. His pieces normally achieve multiples over the initial estimate and it will be interesting to watch the result. What I find most interesting about them is the different colour combination chosen for each one of the two pieces designed as articulated feathers an set with multiple pave gemstones (diamonds, spinels, sapphires and tourmalines).

Widely acknowledged as being the most talented jeweller of his generation, JAR was established on the Place Vendôme in Paris in 1977 by Joël Arthur Rosenthal, better known by his trade name JAR. Born in New York City, Rosenthal studied art history at Harvard University, later working in the film industry and then with Bulgari. Drawing upon the past, but allowing his natural creativity to dominate, he has reinterpreted jewellery as an art form, crossing the boundaries between ornamental jewels and sculpture. JAR's work is always imaginative and beautifully crafted and often incorporates unusual gemstones in brilliant and unexpected combinations. A 10th anniversary celebration exhibition was held in New York in 1987 and a larger highly glamorous retrospective of 400 jewels was on show at The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House in London in 2002.

Friday, 29 April 2011

An impressive Imperial Emerald TIARA

Just as we are watching the British Royal Wedding we have to post this Tiara!!. It is an extraordinary piece  that was commissioned by Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck for his second wife Katharina Wassilevna de Slepzoff. The eleven pear shaped polished colombian emeralds could have been part of the French Crown jewels as Empress Eugenia de Montijo's private collection included twenty five drop emeralds like these ones that were sold in auction back in 1887. Count Guido also bought Empress Eugenia's pearls for his wife. The emeralds have been drilled and polished in the traditional Indian way and must have belonged to a Maharaja in the 17th or 18th Century. The total weight of the emeralds is about 500 carats.

The base of the tiara displays eleven large cushion shaped diamonds alternated with muguets and resting on a row of laurel leaves. The emerald drops rest on a festoon shaped line of diamonds. The entire piece is finished with an extremely delicate millegrain work. There is no signature on it but at the time the tiara was made not many jewellers would have had the skill and the reputation to have received such a commission, Boucheron and Chaumet were the favourites of european nobility at the end of the XIX Century.  

The tiara will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 17th.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Rene LALIQUE ivory and enamel pendant

This is an extremely delicate pendant by Rene Lalique that will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 17th. The central piece is a carved ivory female figure surrounded by an enamel frame with naturalistic floral motifs. The pendant is dated in 1906 and it seems a transition or early Art Nouveau piece. It is decorated with small diamonds and a pearl, the only concessions that Lalique made to the use of gemstones. He always focused on the artistic part of his work instead of the use of expensive gems which he considered diminished the importance of the artist.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The "Grand Collier Printemps" by BUCCELLATI

This should be one of the highlights of the next Christie's auction in Geneva. It is a modern piece but so unique and special that it is quite a surprise to find it featured in an auction. The "Grand Collier Printemps" is signed by Gianmaria Buccellati and it was made in 1994. It displays a series of textured gold leaves in three colours of classic greek inspiration and six flower heads set with diamonds. The pieces can be detached and rearranged as a short necklace, a pair of earrings and a brooch. 

Rene BOIVIN: a "reversible" bracelet

This is another example of Rene Boivin's creative genius as a firm. A very original "reversible" bracelet. The central panel swivels to reveal a pave of rubies on one side and a a diamond set pattern on the other. The bracelet was made in the 1980's and it will be auctioned by Christie's Geneva on May 17th.

Monday, 25 April 2011

An extravagant necklace by SCHLUMBERGER for Tiffany

I find this necklace stunning!. Not only beautiful in terms of craftsmanship and gemstones but also extremely original in terms of design. When using so many carats and gems on one single piece it is very difficult to do it in a "wearable" and fashionable way; it is easy to fall for a classic and more simple design to avoid making the piece too exaggerated. Well, here is lesson for a master jeweller, Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany; a rope covered with pave diamonds and a strap made of sapphires and emeralds wrapped around it ending in a curtain like festoon. The marquise shaped diamonds are just the finishing touch to enhance the light of all the stones.

Jean Schlumberger was born in France in 1907 in a textile dedicated family. He preferred jewellery and he used to give flower pins made by himself to his friends. Like Verdura, he raised to stardom by coming across a great couturier, instead of Coco Chanel, in his case it was Elsa Schiaparelli who hired him to design costume jewellery. In 1956 Tiffany & Co offered him a leading designer position allowing him to sign his pieces with his own name. His style is so personal, that his jewels have become an icon for collectors. 

The necklace will be auctioned by Christie's Geneva on May 18th.

Friday, 22 April 2011


... on Facebook

I decided to follow one thread...and focus on RINGS to explain a bit of the history and evolution of the master jewellery makers of all times. I hope you will enjoy it and please send me pictures that I could add to this collection!!


Thursday, 21 April 2011

The "ballerinas" by VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

The "ballerina" brooches made by Van Cleef & Arpels during the 1940's -50's are one of those classic, yet rare, collectable pieces. I am not particularly fond of wearing them, I don't think it is easy nowadays. However, they are very beautiful, and this one is amongst the most elegant ones that I have found. It is a new acquisition by Hancocks, London. It is made of old cut diamonds and a fine cushion shaped sapphire and as their notes say: "These iconic ballerinas were a collaboration between Maurice Duvalet, Van Cleef & Arpels and John Rubel. The Arpels had close ties with the ballet and were influenced by the great dancers and choreographers of the day. They even approached George Balanchine to produce a ballet entitled 'Jewels' where various countries were represented by different precious stones."
A selection of very fine ballerinas is exhibited right now at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum in New York, in the Van Cleef & Arpels set in style exhibition.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

MARCHAK: A rare Art Deco coral ring

This ring is one of the "treasures" that I found in my recent visit to New York. It is an early Art Deco piece (around 1920) set with a coral cabochon with a very unusual carving and onix and diamond details on the base. The ring is signed by Marchak, established in Kiev, Russia in 1878. He was contemporary of Faberge and he was also appointed as jeweller to the Romanov Tsar family. After the revolution he emigrated to Paris with his son and embraced the Art Deco movement. They exhibited several pieces at the 1925 Paris Exhibition. No big surprise that Marchak was also known as the "Cartier from Kiev"!!!. The ring is owned by reputed Antique dealer Macklowe Gallery, famous for their selection of Tiffany lamps.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A rare CARTIER Art Deco pink Tourmaline Sautoir

This beautiful and extremely rare Art Deco sautoir by Cartier was sold by Doyle NY last week and achieved another record price in terms of multiple vs estimate!. The piece is set in platinum with 11 carved pink Tourmaline beads and a shield shaped pendant. The links are a very original combination of platinum rondelles, pearls and onix bars. It is a very unusual surviving piece from the early Art Deco period when Cartier sought inspiration in India and carved gemstones were incorporated in fine jewellery.

Monday, 18 April 2011

An Imperial Mughal spinel necklace

This extremely rare and valuable necklace is coming up for auction at Christies's Geneva on may 18th. It is an Imperial Mughal necklace with eleven carved spinel beads (1,136.63 ct). Three of them actually display the name of Jahangir, emperor between 1605 and 1627, who was the father of the constructor of the Taj Mahal. The beads engraving records the names of both the son and grandson and the years during which they reigned.

Spinel was a gemstone treasured by Mughal emperors and valued as much as Golconda diamonds and carved emeralds. They were considered protective talismans that emperors wore in groups of three during battles.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Imperial Emeralds: Royal Spanish Provenance

Christie's Geneva will be auctioning this pair of emeralds on May 18th. The most extraordinary feature about these gemstones is their provenance. They belonged to Eugenia de Montijo, Countess of Teba, who was born in Spain and married Emperor Napoleon III in 1853. She was one of the most influential women of her time and her jewellery collection was renowned. She particularly liked emeralds and when she died she left nine unmounted emeralds that she has worn in a tiara, to the future Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, her goddaughter, in 1920. 

Queen Victoria Eugenia wore the emeralds in many occasions, first as a necklace and later as a parure. She had to leave Spain due to the uprising of the Second Republic in 1931 and lived in exile  thereafter. Her jewels were auctioned in Bern in 1961 and these two emeralds were acquired then by the current owner.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Neil Lane: Reviving Renaissance Revival

Great article by the jewelry loupe!

Neil Lane: Reviving Renaissance Revival

Raymond TEMPLIER: Art Deco geometric clip-bracelet combination

This 1935's Art Deco bracelet was sold by Sotheby's last week in New York. It is a great example of convertible pieces that became so in vogue at the time. The clasp is detachable and can be worn separately as a brooch. However the grandness of this piece lies in its design. It was made by Raymond Templier in the height of the Art Deco geometric trend that took inspiration on machinery as a sign of modernity.

Sotheby's Catalogue: Modernist jeweler, Raymond Templier, is known for his geometric compositions, which drew inspiration from modern technology. Templier said, 'When I walk through the streets, I see ideas for jewelry everywhere - wheels, cars, the machines of today, I am ready to respond to all of them.' Born into a dynasty of Parisian jewelers - Maison Templier et Fils, founded by his grandfather in 1849 - Templier joined the family business in 1922 and began creating his unusual jewels. He regularly participated in international exhibitions and was involved in the contemporary art movement in Paris, where he was a founding member of the UAM, Union des Artistes Modernes. In 1935, he took over the management of the firm which remained open until 1965.
As an innovator of jewelry during the Art Deco period when geometric forms dominated the fine and decorative arts, Raymond Templier created designs that have become emblematic of their time. His mode, characterized by contrasts of matte and shiny surfaces and volumes and flat planes, was reflective of art rather than of traditional jewelry that emphasized important gemstones. Templier said, 'A piece of jewelry is above all dark and light and not just sparkle.' Although he utilized precious gemstones such as diamonds, it was in an imaginative manner that is evocative of an artist who paints with particular hues or a sculptor who fashions forms out of a variety of materials. Templier created jewelry that was about design, not about the materials.
The design of this bracelet is simple, yet its subtle complexity denotes the work of a master. Whereas bracelet bands are usually the same pattern from one end to the other, this bangle is created as a solid mass on one side of the clip brooch while the opposite side is divided in the center by a furrow. The diamond-set clip brooch can be removed from the bracelet and worn separately. This convertible bangle-bracelet with a clip brooch is among the first such conceived jewels that can function in a dual manner.
Only a few very gifted designers break with the past to create a new style. Raymond Templier is one such innovator whose jewelry transcends time. This bangle-bracelet and clip brooch is emblematic of the mid 1930s but its style resonates with jewelry connoisseurs today.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A surprise Moretto by NARDI

At first sight, this piece looks like another beautiful Moretto brooch by Nardi. The emblem of the city of Venice, inspired by Shakespeare's Othello. A jet carved head adorned with golden turban and dress set in rubies and diamonds. But this one is an "Aprible" moretto!, the dress opens up to reveal an image of the city of Venice!, a nice touch to make the jewel more interesting and secretively special. 

This Moretto belongs to the spanish antique dealer Marta Alcolea.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

An Important Natural Pearl

This is my view the main highlight of the next Christie's auction in Dubai, a natural pearl weighting 59.92 carats (or 237.9 grains) that comes at an estimate of $180,000 to $250,000. The pearl is set as a pendant and it was featured in a recent exhibition.

C.f H. Bari and D.Lam, 'Pearls', published for the exhibition 'Pearls' at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, 2009, p. 237 for an illustration of this pearl.

A rare GIULIANO pearl and zircon necklace

This pendant (in clear need of restoration) is a rare example of Carlo Giuliano's work during the second half of the XIX Century. The pendant is set with a rare Zircon and drop pearl in a gold enamelled plaque of detailed lace design so typical of his. The rarity lies also on the shape of the two side wing links. Carlo Giuliano was the master of the revolution in english jewellery at the time. His light and coloured pieces became fashionable as soon as he started to produce them, due to the contrast with the heavy revival and Victorian jewellery.

The pendant will be auctioned by Christie's in London on April 20th.
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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

CINDY CHAO: a dilema

I have mixed feelings about this taiwanese jeweller. Her unique floral designs are so alive that almost look unreal. Incredible imagination and exquisite craftsmanship. Her one of a kind pieces are contemporary masterpieces of asian jewelry design, yet she has a cheaper collection in Begdorf & Goodman, that looks mass produced and totally unoriginal. Cindy Chao is undoubtedly talented but maybe not best advised.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Alexis FALIZE: nineteen century gold and enamel necklace

This necklace is a very rare find, it was made by Alexis Falize in the XIX Century. It will be auctioned by Christie's in London on April 20th. It displays five enamelled gold medallions of different naturalistic motifs.

Alexis Falize started his career working for the Mellerio brothers in Paris in 1933. He had a great talent for drawing and engraving and soon set himself up on his own with his two brothers. His designs in the Second Empire style became sought after almost immediately. He supplied the grander firms of his time and never went on his own to an exhibition, that is why his signed pieces are so rare to be found. He excelled at design and paid very little attention to valuable stones, for him the merit of a piece was its intrinsic artistic value. He was succeeded by his son Lucien who introduced new techniques like cloisone enamel and the chinese inspiration of some of the later Falize works.

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Monday, 11 April 2011

Detachable 1950's Brooch/Bangle combination

I love these idea as I find convertible pieces quite fun. This was not unusual during the 1950's, and last week I saw a similar bangle at Fred Leighton's. It was a convenient way to exhibit clip-brooches adjusted in a wide cuff instead of wearing them pinned. This one presents two platinum and diamond flowers in a platinum wide band. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY next thursday.

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Sunday, 10 April 2011


Christie's NY will be auctioning this week an impressive number of coloured diamonds of extraordinary value. I was really lucky last friday when I was in NY and they invited me to a private viewing of the auction. I could listen to an explanation of who the prospective buyers are, that I can't resist putting it here: " the multi-million coloured diamonds will probably go to Asia; chinese and indian investors prefer small stones but of the finest quality, while russian and middle eastern investors prefer larger stones with less focus on quality". Funny how the world has changed... only a few years ago, large diamonds were for north americans and small but flawless were for europeans, none were mentioned.
Of all the magnificent diamonds that Christie's will be auctioning, I have chosen two: the "small" 3.25 carat fancy vivid blue diamond, internally flawless that comes at an estimate of $2-3M which would be my favourite. And the "large" 10.05 carat fancy purple-pink SI1 clarity that has an estimate of $10-12M. It will be very interesting to watch the result of the auction!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

DAVID WEBB: azurmalachite frogg bangle

I find this is a fun piece of a very interesting semi precious gemstone, Azurmalachite. It is a bracelet of interlinked froggs set in yellow gold with cabochon rubies as eyes and link pieces. The maker is David Webb. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's in NY on April 14th.

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Friday, 8 April 2011

BVLGARI: Pearl earrings

This is a magnificent pair of earrings of a very unusual style by Bulgari who is known for the use of coloured stones and yellow gold. The drop pearls are exceptional and certified as natural salt water pearls without colour enhancement.

They will be auctioned at Christie's NY on April 12th.
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VERDURA: coloured diamonds cocktail ring

Only a genius like Verdura could have signed a piece as daring as this one. The ring displays a brown coloured brilliant cut diamond as a central stone, most unusual choice in terms of colour, surrounded by yellow pave set diamonds and the by white diamonds set in platinum. The choice of colours and the settings achieve an extraordinary effect as if the central stone was melting or vanishing into the ring and yet it is made look bigger and brighter!.

The ring will be auctioned by Sotheby's in NY on April 14th
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WIESE: A cameo pendant

Jules Wiese, born in Berlin in 1818, moved to Paris in 1839 and began collaborating with Francois-Desire Froment-Meurice. In 1844 he opened his own workshop at 7 rue Jean Pain Mollet but still produced exclusively for Froment-Meurice. It was not until 1858 that Jules Weise registered his own mark and started an independent workshop, the business finally settling in 90 rue de Richelieu in 1864. Having won many medals at the World Exhibitions for his work in the medieval sculptured style, the precursor to Art Nouveau, Jules dies in 1890. In the same year, his son Louis, born in 1852, registered a new company mark. His jewels remained faithful to his father’s style, although updating some of the models, until his death in 1923. The majority of surviving jewels bear the name of Louis Wiese. (Abstract from Symbolic & Chase).

This pendant is a very fine example of his Renaissance Revival style and displays a carnelian intaglio of a Roman emperor in the centre. The use of enamel is typical from the period, on the second half of the XIX century the same way as Giuliano did. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's in NY on April 14th.

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Thursday, 7 April 2011

PAUL FLATO: a 1940's feather brooch

This piece is another great example of Paul Flato's design. It is a very large golden feather with a central branch set in pave diamonds. The brooch is very naturalistic and conveys very well the idea of movement although it is not articulated.

It will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY on April 14th.
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The ART DECO convertibles

During an economic crisis one understands this concept even better. Great jewels should be worn as much as possible and nothing makes it easier than having a versatile piece that can be converted into a different setting depending on the occasion and the outfit. This concept is much more ancient than Art Deco, but these two pieces are a fine example from this particular period. The first one, is a Cartier bracelet made of diamond and onix links that can be detached and remounted following different patterns.

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The second piece is a typical diamond sautoir that can be formed out of three separate pieces: two bracelets and a pendant.

Both will be auctioned by Christie's in NY on April 12th.
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS: Mystery set sapphire maple leaf brooch

This brooch is a Van Cleef and Arpels classic but that does not make it less extraordinary or beautiful!. It displays a leaf with mystery set calibre cut sapphires surrounded by brilliant cut diamonds and with baguette cut diamonds forming the branch.

No matter how many of these pieces one might have seen, the invisible way the stones are set in, it will always be admirable.

This piece will be auctioned by Sotheby's in NY on April 14th.

CARTIER: a rare Art Deco hardstone necklace

Nobody could determine which type of gemstone has been used by Cartier for this necklace!, neither the previous owner, or the Sotheby's expert nor the gemologist to whom the piece was taken for examination. The spherical graduated beads look like turquoise at first glance, but very quickly one notices that it is somehow a different stone, the colour is greener and the veins are not dark, it is more like jade watermarks but too blue for it to be jade. This piece is not only rare, most importantly it is extremely beautiful!, Cartier's bespoke design at its best. The diamond set links between the back double row and the front three strands just light the entire piece! and the small ruby beads that are used to link the hardstone ones just add the right colour contrast to enhance the entire piece. The necklace is dated around 1925.

It will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY on April 14th.
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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

YARD: exquisite pair of Art Deco earrings

Yard pieces are extremely rare to find, and yet in this auction we have two!, maybe from the same provenance since both are set with rubies. This pair of earrings is an exquisite Art Deco design, so simple that they could not be more elegant. An ellipse set with pave diamonds with two spherical rubies must have been an innovative design back in the 1920's , but it works so well that it looks contemporary!. 

They will be auctioned at Christie's NY on April 12th.

The use of Rock Crystal in Art Deco by CARTIER

These three pieces signed by Cartier will be auctioned by Christie's NY on April 12th. Besides the maker, they all have two things in common: they belong to the abstract or geometric Art Deco period and they use Rock Crystal. This is a near colourless quartz that became very popular during this period because it was a great base for pieces to have the minimalistic appearance that was so sought after by Art Deco designers. It is not an expensive gemstone but it works beautifully in these pieces, even as a substitute for diamonds and conveys the pieces a very clean design.

Monday, 4 April 2011

A GOLCONDA diamond

Type lla diamonds are the purest and most perfect gemstones, only two percent of all diamonds belong to this category and of those, the ones that come from the Indian region of Golconda are particularly more valuable for their beauty. This one is a great example, the light and the fire that this stone has is hard to beat, unfortunately it cannot be appreciated in the picture. Better to go and see it in person, I was lucky to see it at the London preview, but it will be displayed in NY for the Sotheby's auction on April 14th.

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RENE BOIVIN: a 1940's "tulip" brooch

This is a great example of what made Rene Boivin such a grand jeweller and artist. He was sometimes more modern than his time. This piece shows how he could combine perfectly the most avantgarde design with old cut recycled diamonds and make it work beautifully!.

This beautiful brooch will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY on April 14.

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VERDURA: A cocobola wood Maltese cuff

When looking at this bracelet, one knows immediately it is a Verdura! The wide cuff with a gem set maltese cross that Coco Chanel made an iconic piece. Shame that she used to wear in matching pairs and this one is coming up for auction as a single piece. It will be at the Sotheby's NY magnificent jewels sale on April 14th. The base of the bracelet is made of "cocobola" wood and the cross is set in yellow gold with square cut citrines. It is an extremely elegant combination.

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

A CARTIER antique enamel necklace

A rare antique necklace signed by Cartier will be auctioned at Christie's NY on April 12th. It must be one of the first pieces made when the firm was created back in 1847. During the 1850's they started to make pieces first for Princess Mathilda, cousin of Emperor Napoleon III and later for Empress Eugenie.

The necklace displays a bow design and it is made of enamelled gold, a very usual technique and fashionable in that period. Although it is not a piece of great value, the importance lies in the period when it was made and the significance for Cartier.

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JAR: a pair of hoop earrings

A magnificent and extremely rare pair of earrings by JAR! It will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY on April 14th. This is a great design and very unusual, each one set with seven marquise shaped diamonds around a circular pave of emeralds and sapphires.

Joel Arthur Rosenthal is one of the most sought after contemporary jewellers. An absolute record on his pieces was set at Christie's legendary auction in 2006, when 17 pieces belonging to Ellen Barking were sold for more that $20M!.

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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Paul FLATO: a rare diamond brooch

This is a rare an very elegant brooch by Paul Flato featuring a diamonds and platinum leaf. Paul Flato was better known for his bold and exaggerated designs, normally using large stones like citrine or aquamarines. This piece is a lot more delicate and subtle, maybe except for its size!

The brooch will be auctioned by Cristie's NY on April 12th.
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BOUCHERON: 1925's lapis lazuli earrings

I had the chance to try these earrings on in London during the Sotheby's NY preview for their April auction. They are stunning!. Such a delicate design and execution!. And also very unusual, although they combine most of the purest Art Deco features like the geometrical design and the use of semi precious gemstones (lapis lazuli in this case) with a platinum and diamond setting. They are signed by Boucheron, who else...

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Friday, 1 April 2011

An emerald NARDI Moretto

An important moretto brooch by Nardi. With a jet carved face it features gold and diamonds turban and dress with a large pear shaped emerald as the body!

It  will be offered at the Christie's NY auction on April 12th.
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CARTIER+Onix+Art Deco: a winning combination!

These three brooches have in common one of the best known features of Art Deco: the introduction of semiprecious stones in fine platinum and diamond jewellery. It was actually Cartier in the early 1910's who first used the combination with onix and he did it in a panther watch. Diamonds and platinum on black were popular before but cloth, like the Belle Époque velvet chokers. These three pieces are signed by Cartier and were made in that period. They will be auctioned by Christie's in NY on April 12th.

This one is enamel, not onix, but as stunning as the others, probably black enamel was used to adapt it better to the shape.