Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Auction results: CARTIER panthers break records again!

Anyone that has been reading this blog for a while will know by now that we have a weak spot for Cartier panthers. Cartier first used the panther design as early as the 1910's, introducing the dotted pattern in haute jewellery in an innovative wristwatch; but it would be during the 1930's, when Jeanne Toussaint, nicknamed the panther, took over as creative director when the animal motif became an icon. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor will always be associated to it for their giant star sapphire brooch with a panther mounted on it and most recently for the record price achieved by the Duchess famous bracelet. Cartier continues producing the panthers today and there are many different versions of the design but somehow these pieces remain as sought after as the rarest jewels, it has something to do with their beauty and their perfection.

Christie's Hong Kong held today their Magnificent Jewels auction featuring five fine examples of Cartier panthers, and as it was to be expected they achieved record prices once again. The brooch above, with a rare reclining panther set in sapphires, emeralds and onix with a diamond pave was sold for $591,000, the platinum bangle above set with onix and emeralds went for $374,000. The wristwatch below with tourmalines was sold for $76,900 and the black fabric strap bracelet went for $149,700. Finally the delicate thin bracelet set in onix and emeralds was sold for $95,500, this last one, I do not find that convincing, but after all I am a blue sapphire and emerald panther fan!.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Mitsuo Kaji is the leading contemporary japanese art jeweller. He was raised by a family of watch and jeweller makers in Japan. A perfectionist in the culture of delicacy and detail. He first became known as an artist by his "Emaux" collection, a series of unique pieces of jewellery in colourful enamel. He went into gemstones through his "Impressive" series, another set of unique pieces of bold and colourful design where he mixed all kind of materials and gemstones from a Paraiba Tourmaline to opals or crystal with enamelled motifs. He has also collaborated with Unesco to produce the "World Heritage Jewellery" collection, which is a set of mini sculptures in gold and platinum set with precious stones that reproduce world wonders.

He is now focused on his "Best Collection" which nothing less than pieces using only the finest and rarest gemstones!. The necklace above, belongs to this category, the chain is set with diamond hoops and rare Icy Jadeite beads and the pendant features a double diamond hoop with seven important pear shaped emerald green Jadeite drops of the best quality. It will be auctioned by Christie's Hong Kong on May 31st.

View Mitsuo Kaji Website

A pair of Art Deco Jadeite earrings by GEORGES FOUQUET

This is an incredibly beautiful and rare pair of earrings signed by Fouquet. They were made in the 1920's and feature a lot of the Art Deco elements of the period: the oriental inspiration, the geometric design and the use of black enamel to highlight colour. The Jadeite hoop suspended in an original diamond clasp is of the brightest green quality.

The most interesting thing about them, besides their beauty and quality, is the fact that, according to Christie's, they are signed by Georges Fouquet; he was one of the most renowned Art Nouveau jewellers and his collaboration with artist Mucha evidences how strongly he embraced this movement. It was his son, Jean Fouquet, the one that introduced Art Deco in the family so this must be one of the rare transition pieces singed by the father in the style that his son tried to bring in!.

The earrings will be auctioned by Christie's Hong Kong on May 31st.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

JEAN DESPRÉS: Hammered silver Art Deco Brooch

Jean Després (1889-1990), never considered himself an artist.

He took pride in his craftsmanship, rather than design he was interested in the transformation of materials and experimenting with them. He exhibited his gold and silver objects of vertu and jewellery from the First World War onwards in a very innovative way using coloured glass and prints usually made by Etienne Cournault. He was declined at the 1928 “Salon d’Automne” because the Organization considered him to be too modern!.

He belonged to the Art Deco generation of artist-jewellers that was inspired by geometry, volume and architecture, the age of the machine and the beginning of abstract and conceptual art. They view their creations as closer to sculpture than jewels and used "modern" materials like titanium and stainless steel.

This is a very simple brooch from the 1930's in hammered silver that belongs to spanish antique dealer Marta Alcolea.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

UPCOMING FAIR: London Masterpiece presents JAR!!

Joel Arthur Rosenthal, JAR is coming to London!!! One of the most sought after contemporary jewellers will be exhibiting for the first time ever at a fair, and it will be in London Masterpiece on June 29. The great master is well known for never giving interviews, nor making public appearances or even displaying his creations; his shop in Place Vendome does not have a window!. There is a reason for him this time though, he will be presenting a new perfume (don't ask me why...), but the organisation has guaranteed that there will be jewels on display, so I have already my Preview invitation and I will be posting!!. Hopefully, we will see new pieces that none has owned before.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

A CHANEL ring bash in Hong Kong

CHANEL San Marco RingCHANEL Coco RingCHANEL Kaleidoscope RingCHANEL Franges RingCHANEL Soleil RingCHANEL Nuit Noire Ring
CHANEL Geode RingCHANEL Harmonie RingCHANEL Camelia ringCHANEL Pearl ringCHANEL opal and Onix Ring

Christie's Hong Kong is auctioning this great collection of contemporary rings by Chanel. They may no longer be designed by the magical pair Coco Chanel-Fulco di Verdura, but the Maison continues delivering Haute Joillerie of the finest quality and the most elegant design. It is worth noting that all the diamonds on these lots are F colour and VVS2 clarity!.

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A Jadeite Dragon Brooch by WALLACE CHAN

Christie's Hong Kong will be auctioning this piece of art-jewellery by Wallace Chan. It is a brooch in the shape of a dragon made out of titanium and multi coloured gemstones that flies through two very fine jadeite hoops.

Always sought after and breaking records every time one of his creations comes to the market, this one should be no exception. This contemporary master, already considered the JAR of Asia is a rare and unique find.

A fabulous tourmaline Paraiba by HARRY WINSTON

Just got back from Brazil! and the most amazing part of the trip was the discovery of a rare type of Tourmaline stone called Paraiba, after the region of Paraibo in north east Brazil where the only mine (now closed) in the world is located. These gemstones feature a unique neon intense blue colour, different to everything I have seen before!. Much more intense than an aquamarine with a greenish tint it captures light in an almost fluorescent way. And I got double time lucky when, right after landing, I went into the Harry winston store in London and they have currently on display one of the largest Paraibas in the market set in a magnificent necklace. The ring above, also by Harry Winston, is another great example of their magnificent setting for one of the rarest gemstones in the world, that at some point was even more expensive than diamonds. As they have very kindly explained to me, this is a stone for the most educated collectors that already have everything!

View Harry Winston's page

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A 1940's diamond brooch by BVLGARI

This beautiful brooch was designed by Bvlgari in the 1940's. Set in different cut diamonds and mounted in platinum it looks like a transition piece between late Art Deco an the Retro style. The symmetry and the use of different cut stones is clearly Art Deco, however the volume and tridimensional semi spheres hint towards the future Retro pieces.

The brooch will be auctioned by Christie's Milan on May 26th.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A daring VICTORIAN snake bracelet

I find this bracelet uniquely daring for its period. Snake shaped bracelets, rings and necklaces were very popular during the second half of the XIX Century. The lighter versions of them usually embellished wit turquoises and coral stones and the finest ones with diamonds, rubies or emeralds and sapphires. This bracelet however, seems different to me in the sense that it is extremely long, it goes around the arm seven times and one can only think about how it would have been combined with the ladies' fashion at the time. It features an important pear shaped diamond so it musts have been made either as an adornment for a high society fancy ball given the flair that exotic pieces had at the time or, for an important stage figure.

It will be auctioned at Christie's London on May 25th.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A TEMPLIER Belle Epoque emerald pendant

This is a rare and extremely delicate pendant made by Templier in 1905, at the height of the Belle Epoque period. It features a delicate work in platinum and gold set with a beautifully bright emerald. It will be auctioned by Christie's Paris on May 23rd.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

There is no doubt that Rene Boivin was a genius master jeweller and therefore it is a must to pay tribute to the creativity shown in this piece!. This cute pendant was designed during the 1940's in the shape of an elephant set with rubies, emeralds and sapphires, but the most intriguing part of it are the baguette diamonds that hung from the tapestry!. It is coming up for auction at Christie's Paris on May 23rd.

Friday, 20 May 2011

An emerald and sapphire ring by MELLERIO, 1950's

This is a rare 1950's ring by Mellerio, set in yellow gold with a combination of cabochon emeralds and sapphires of different colour and intensity. Maybe not very valuable but an extraordinarily beautiful design. It will be auctioned by Christie's Paris on May 23rd.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A BOUCHERON black diamond dragon ring

This ring was made by Boucheron in 2008 as part of the Collection of unique pieces called Cabinet des Curiosites, each one of them featuring a different animal. I am fascinated by them and have posted a few of them already!. This one is a dragon set in sapphires and emeralds with a large central black diamond. It is coming up for auction at Christie's Paris on May 23rd, a rare treat for such a recent piece!.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A pair of NARDI Moretto cufflinks

A pair of cufflinks made by Nardi with his usual Moretto motif, made in ebony, yellow gold and diamonds. They will be auctioned by Christie's Paris on May 23rd.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Important and rare ART DECO bracelet

This extremely rare Art Deco bracelet features two snakes made of enamel and emeralds that face each other along the sides of a central large natural pink pearl, all set on a band made of a diamond pave. This is an exquisite example of the egyptian inspired early Art Deco trend which Cartier, Boucheron and their contemporary masters exhibited in Paris in 1925 in the famous Exposition des Arts Decoratifs. It will be auctioned by Christie's Geneva on May 18th.

A rare CARTIER Art Deco Jadeite pendant

This is am extremely rare Art Deco pendant by Cartier from the 1920's and of Chinese inspiration. The rectangular jadeite plaque is engraved with two dragons holding a "ling zhi" that represents strength, goodness and longevity. It is suspended of a carved sapphire and hangs from a chain with pearls and amethysts and an emerald bead. The piece will be auctioned by Christie's Geneva on may 18th.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Another VAN CLEEF & ARPELS "Cadenas" yellow gold and rubies

Sotheby's Geneva's big day is tomorrow! We will be watching and tweeting!!! One of the most thrilling parts of collecting fine antique jewels is that there is usually only one of a kind, specially for the jewels with provenance. So, since most of us "may" not get the Van Cleef & Arpels watch/bracelet that the Duchess of Windsor gave to Condesa de Romanones, here is another "cadenas" watch/bracelet in yellow gold set with calibre cut rubies that would be a great addition to any 1940's jewellery collection!.

A BUCCELlATTI multiple sapphire bracelet

What makes Buccellatti so special is the way gold is worked, a unique way to resemble cloth and lace!. This is another example of it. A satin finished bangle set with diamonds and sapphires in an intricate lace design. It comes up for auction at Sotheby's Geneva on may 17th.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Important tiara: The ROSBERY PEARLS

This magnificent pearls will be auctioned by Christie's London on June 8th. They belonged to Hannah, Countess of Rosbery nee de Rothschild. She had a jewellery collection that was admired throughout all the Royal Courts in Europe during the second half of the XIX Century. This pearl and diamond bracelet, brooch and tiara are one of the finest pieces of Victorian jewellery ever made. In a private collection for the last 140 years they will probably be acquired by an important museum.

The seven pearl and diamond drops are detachable, as well as the circular clusters and can be also worn as a brooches or bodice ornaments. During that time, tiaras were only appropriate for married women, and it became normal to design them as a more versatile piece of jewellery that allowed its different components to be worn more often. The Rosbery tiara is not signed but it is contemporary with the Londonderry Tiara created by Garrard also with detachable pearl drops. It had been Empress Eugene who had set the fashion of pearls and diamonds wearing very often a magnificent parure that had belonged to the crown since Henri IV and Marie de Medicis.

Hannah was an only child and granddaughter of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, founder of the english branch of the banking empire. When her father died in 1874, she became the wealthiest woman in England. Her marriage to Archibald, 5th Earl of Rosbery had to overcome the difficulties of their different background and religion in 1878. She died very young in 1890 and the Earl was so devoted to her that he never married again. According to Winston Churchill, he never found anyone he could trust so much!.

An important FABERGE objet de vertu up for auction

This incredibly beautiful table clock is the highlight Faberge object of this auction season!. It will be offered by Coutau-Begarie in Paris on May 20th.

The clock is set in an opaque white enamel sphere with arab numerals and surrounded by an exquisite translucent blue enamel circle in guilloche technique with a golden net work with flowers on the crossings that is one of main characteristics of Faberge's work. Surrounding the dial there are half seed pearls and around the outer circle a series of laurel leaves set on red enamel.

The clock was previously in the collection of Prince Dominik Radziwill who acquired it in 1905 during the opening of Faberge's shop in Kiev.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Women who paved the way: Margret Craver

Women who paved the way: Margret Craver

Jewelry Insider™: Emeralds Explode at Cannes!

Jewelry Insider™: Emeralds Explode at Cannes!: "Jewelry at the Cannes Film Festival is a 'go big or go home' explosion of some of the world's most expensive jewels and gems. Why? Because ..."

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The CARTIER and VAN CLEEF 1960's parrot brooches

Nature has always been a source of inspiration in jewellery. However the 1950's and 1960's are remarkable for animal inspiration, in particular one could focus on a comprehensive collection just with bird brooches as a thread. Here we have two great examples of that period, the first one is made by Cartier and it features a parrot made of coral, turquoise, lapis lazuli and diamonds in an exquisitely carved golden structure.

This second one was made by Van Cleef & Arpels, set in a gold structure with white enamel, coral and an emerald. The one by Cartier is more beautiful in my opinion but this one's feather work is a work of art. Both will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 17th and the estimates are astronomical for such type of pieces.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

An important Cadena bracelet by VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

This is a great bracelet with a very important provenance. It was made in 1936 by Van Cleef And Arpels as part of their "Cadena" collection. That makes it already special because the design is extremely daring and sets the grounds for the next to come "Retro" style in the 1940's. It has an inscription that says: " For their 3 anniversary, 12.III.36, and Our tub, 17.III.36". According to Sotheby's, this bracelet was part of the inventory of the Duchess of Windsor jewels, so it must have been a gift from the Duke of Windsor, actually at that moment he was in fact King Edward VIII.

The Duchess of Windsor gave this watch/bracelet to Aline Griffith, Condesa Vda. de Romanones, and it is one of the pieces that Sotheby's Geneva will be auctioning on May 17th.

Magnificent Ruby parure from the Condesa Vda. de Romanones

This magnificent parure from the Condesa Vda. de Romanones set in rubies and diamonds is my favourite of all the pieces that Sotheby's Geneva will be auctioning on May 17th. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

MAHARAJA Emerald parure from the Condesa Vda. de Romanones

This demi-parure is made with emeralds purchased by a spanish jeweller from the Maharajkumar Ajit Sing. He was the son of the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh Bahadur of Kapurtala who travelled to Madrid for the marriage of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and while he was there fell in love with Anita Delgado Briones, a famous flamenco dancer from Malaga. They married in 1908, she changed her name to Maharani Prem Kaur and they had a son. The couple travelled around Europe and India but eventually they separated. The Maharani moved to Paris with her son and died in Madrid in 1972.

It will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 17th as one of the seven lots from the Condesa Vda. de Romanones.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Jewels from the Condesa Vda. de Romanones

Sotheby's Geneva next auction also includes seven lots of jewels from a famous spanish aristocrat, the Condesa Vda. de Romanones. The jewels are extraordinary by her story is even better. She was born in the US and went to Spain as a spy working for the predecessor of the CIA, in Madrid she met her husband, the heir of an important noble family end so she became one of the best known socialites  of her time. An icon amongst European and American celebrities for her good taste and her jewellery collection. She lives in Madrid and, although she is almost ninety, she has become a well known writer, with her memoirs just published this year.


The holder of Spain's highest decoration: the Order de Isabel la Católica, a best-selling author, the most generous of hostesses and a Grande de España, the Excelentísima Sra. Condesa Vda. de Romanones has led a life packed with allure, mystique and adventure. Her story would make a truly great film plot.

The Condesa was born Aline Griffith in Pearl River NY. After a rigorous training, as a young lady she worked in Madrid as a spy during the critical years of the Second World War, at a time when the city was an important hub for espionage. Her contributions were to prove vital for the United States and their allies as seen later at the Nüremberg trials. "I stepped out into a completely unknown world", she said in her first book, The Story of Pascualete, (her husband's family estate dating from the thirteen century). But, it was a world which soon capitulated, as it yielded to the dazzling, stylish American beauty, who effortlessly and gracefully adapted to her new life in Spain. In 1947, dressed in Balenciaga couture, the Condesa married don Luis de Figueroa y Perez de Guzmán el Bueno, the dashing scion of one of the grandest families of the realm. The Condesa, a Hall of Fame member of the International Best Dressed List, soon after became the toast the grand monde. She established herself at the centre of society, hosting shooting parties and entertaining lavishly in her homes. Her guest list included the world leaders of the twentieth century as well as key players in Hollywood and members of the European aristocracy. "It seems to me that my husband and I went from one after the other", the Condesa reflects today on the frenetic social scene which erupted after the end of the War, where grand Balls were de rigueur. Charles de Besteigui's Ball at Venice's Labia Palace and the many balls that the Condesa attended at Ferrières, home of her friend the extraordinary Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, are favourite highlights of this era. The Condesa recollects, "My Era was the end of the glamour the world had known for centuries", where quick wit, beauty and elegance were of paramount importance. "With great Jewels you can walk into any exceptional place and know you belong" she adds, stressing that although dress, hair and makeup are always important, jewels are indispensable. "The jewels give importance to you and what you wear. It is what their sparkle do for you. A simple black dress and a knock-out jewel always light a room. They make you glitter. Jewels are a definite advantage to women".

Among her many friends were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - the latter, "treated me like a daughter" the Condesa recounts. Her vast and eclectic circle included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 'Babe' Paley and Betsy Cushing Whitney, as well as Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, the legendary Cayetana XVIII Duchess of Alba and screen icons, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner. The Condesa is a peerless witness to an elegant, but vanishing world, epitomised by Capote's mythical swans.

The Excelentísima Sra. Condesa Vda. de Romanones encapsulates the magnificent poise of European aristocracy, combined with New World flair, zest and a lack of self-consciousness.

CARTIER: sapphire earrings from the Duchess of Windsor

This pair of earrings was part of the 1987 Sotheby's Geneva Auction "Jewels from the Duchess of Windsor". They will be auctioned again on May 17th. I find them a quite unusual design, made by Cartier in the 1950's, the diamond set circle holds four hoops made of sapphire beads.

The Duchess of Windsor was the american socialite Wallis Simpson and her marriage to Edward VIII forced him to abdicate the British Throne 75 years ago.

Friday, 6 May 2011

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS: A "Passe-Partout" 1940's necklace

This bold necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels was designed during the 1940's. It is made out of a turbo-gas necklace with two flower brooches set with yellow and blue sapphires and rubies. It is featured at the Sotheby's Geneva auction on May 17th.

As stated in Vogue magazine in 1938, the Passe-Partout is a 'ravishing jewel, finely crafted and ornamented with precious stones which can be worn as a bracelet, necklace, clip or belt ornament'. This original creation of Van Cleef &Arpels pushed the boundaries of Haute Joaillerie through its innovative capability of multiple functionality and thus of successive transformations.