Thursday, 30 June 2011

London MASTERPIECE Review I: Symbolic & Chase

London Masterpiece opened last night, besides Elton John and Uma Thurman visiting together, what really struck me were the jewels!, probably one of the best selections in the world put together in an extraordinary display. So I have decided to start a mini series of the best of the best!

The brooch above, at London antique dealer Symbolic & Chase, was made by Rene Boivin around 1934, it is difficult to classify because it is too modern for Art Deco, it is just too forward looking as most of the designs from this master.

Below, it is a detail of a magnificent Ludo Hexagone bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels, quite unique and much more sophisticated than the most usual Ludo pieces that come up quite often at auctions. This is one of the finest examples of the Retro style.

COLLECTING Cigarette cases

The fact that nobody smokes anymore should not be a reason why not to collect these extremely delicate pieces of art. It was in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, when smoking became a fashionable social act, that jewellers took on the challenge of designing beautiful cases that would displayed by their owners at every society gathering.  Today, they can be used as extremely sophisticated business card holders!.

The one above, set in blue enamel with mille-grain set sapphires and diamonds was made by Van Cleef and Arpels in the 1920s. The three below are all signed by Cartier between 1913 and 1950. They will be auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 13th.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

An Early Art Nouveau DRAGONFLY brooch

This is a fine brooch from the beginning of the Twentieth century designed as a dragonfly. This was an extremely popular topic used in jewellery at the time for it allowed designer to create beautiful pieces adorned with coloured gemstones and enamel. It is a part of the naturalistic trend that inspired Art Nouveau jewellers although Dragonflies can be traced back much earlier as well, to the previous century. The brooch is set in diamonds, sapphires and with one pearl and it features a very delicate net craftsmanship work. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 13th.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Late Nineteenth Century revival LYRE diamond brooch

This brooch is also an unusual example of the late Nineteenth Century Renaissance Revival style. It is set in yellow gold and silver with very important circular and cushion cut diamonds in closed collet with he central motif adorned by yellow gold laurel leaves. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 13th.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Antique CONVERTIBLE brooch/bracelet/pendant

This is an interesting bracelet from the 1850's, the central piece is detachable and can be worn either as a brooch or as a pendant. The shape, wider in the middle, is typical from this period but it is unusual to find it set in silver and only with diamonds since this was a time of colour, yellow gold and enamel set with all kind of gemstones was a lot more popular. It will be auctioned at Sotheby's London on july 13th.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Antique HELLENISTIC Revival Earrings

These two pairs of earrings from the 1850's and the end of the Nineteenth Century respectively will be auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 13th. The first one, of Hellenistic revival design features a pair of white enamelled doves surmounted with seed pearls and garnets. The second one, with two enamelled and gemstones fruit baskets hanging from a light blue enamelled ribbon. A very cute antique addition to any collection!.

Neil Lane: Reviving Renaissance Revival

Neil Lane: Reviving Renaissance Revival

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The white tie and tiara ball

It is already an english tradition that summer begins officially with Elton John's White Tie and Tiara Ball, a charity jewellery auction event where this year Chopard pieces have helped raise more than £5 million. It is the perfect occasion for magnificent jewellery to be displayed and what I find most funny is that men wear it as well!, can't miss Elton John's carved emerald pendant!

An antique Renaissance revival CAMEO bangle and clip

Antiques are fashionable! Chanel has just launched the "Byzantine Collection" with the most extraordinary jewellery replicating medieval designs. Jewels pre 1850's will surely now be back in vogue for it is possible to wear the latest trend with real pieces. The bangle and clip above were auctioned by Doyle NY this week, they are two jewels made in the first half of the Nineteenth Century in the popular Renaissance Revival style later perpetuated by Giuliano and Castellani. The bangle features a hardstone cameo of Roman classical design set in gold with a fine black enamel decoration. The matching clip set in god and black enamel with three half pearls.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Jewelry Insider™: Tutti Frutti Treasure Triumphs at Christie's

Jewelry Insider™: Tutti Frutti Treasure Triumphs at Christie's: "Lower jaw-drop alert, jewelry hounds! I've been trolling auction results again. I know. The first step is admitting you have a problem. BUT..."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

DISCOVERIES Aylin Aker: Haute couture rebel with a conscience

Aylin Aker has a life full of rich and varied experiences that is reflected through her jewellery creations for she is capable of mixing in a collection an Art Deco inspired piece with organic elements. A truly eclectic personality that draws inspiration from every culture and uses any material. One common feature though unifies all her creations: exquisite craftsmanship and good taste. As different as they can be, her designs work!.

I have chosen this ring as an example of her work because it represents very well her free spirit, the brilliant cut rubies, set upside down in a "punk" design is as provocative as one can get in high jewellery, yet it is a beautiful piece.

This designer has been spotted by Gem Gossip

Monday, 20 June 2011

REPOSSI: Fine diamond ear pendants

This is a fine pair of diamond earrings signed by Repossi. The firm has recently reached the spotlight for having been the one selected by Prince Albert of Monaco to produce the engagement ring that he gave to his fiancee. The House of Repossi was founded in Turin in 1920 by Pietro Repossi, grandfather of the current owner; in the 1970's they opened a shop in Monaco and in the 1980's in Place Vendome in Paris. In 1994, they became the official jeweller to the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. To me the most striking fact about them, is the fact that the artistic director today, is Gaia, the 25 years old daughter of the owner who has been in the job since the age of twenty. Her Byzantine inspired designs, specially the large rings that cover most of the finger, have become a huge success.

The earrings will be auctioned by Sotheby's in London on July 13th. 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A LALIQUE bouquet brooch

This piece represents very well the delicacy of the work by Rene Lalique. It is also a great example to understand the major breakthrough of the Art Nouveau; one just need to try to imagine what a brooch like this must have surprised everyone in the beginning of the Twentieth Century compared to the heavy pieces that had been worn for centuries and even to the Belle Epoque diamond jewellery. The brooch is the opposite to everything that had been made before; a total absence of gemstones, the return to colour and the use of translucent enamel and crystal to create an almost ethereal flower bouquet.

It will be auctioned by Sotheby's in London on july 13th.

BELLE EPOQUE Diamond Tiara

This is definitely "Tiara Season" and the one above a great Belle Epoque piece with provenance, as should be the case in every great Tiara!. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 13th.

AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Important royal spanish opal corsage

Sotheby's London will be auctioning this important Corsage ornament that belonged to the collection of Maria Cristina de Borbon-Dos Sicilias (Widow of King Fernando VII) Regent Queen of Spain. The piece was made in the 1850's in gold and silver and it is set with diamonds and five large white opals.

Maria Cristina was married to King Fernando VII of Spain and they had two daughter, Isabel and Luisa Fernanda. When the King died in 1833, Maria Cristina became Regent on behalf of their eldest daughter Isabel, but Fernando's brother, Carlos, disputed her right to inherit claiming that the law (who prevented women from inheriting the crown) ought have not been changed. This resulted in a war between the supporters of each claimant. Shortly after her first husband's death, Maria Cristina married secretly a sergeant from the Royal Guard, with whom she had several children, when eventually the news became public she lost the support to be Regent and was forced to exile.

The law that allows women to inherit noble titles in equal ranking to men, was passed in Spain in October 2006.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Blue enamel, turquoise and diamond serpent bracelet

This is a unique italian bangle from the 1980's set with blue enamelled scales alternating cabochon turquoises and brilliant cut diamonds in yellow gold.

View antique dealer details

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


A 1960's articulated serpent bracelet by Attilio Codognato, fourth generation venetian jeweller and current owner of the House founded by Simeone Codognato in 1866. Their style is very dramatic theatrical and hence consistent with the city they are based in, and for years Luciano Visconti was amongst their best clients!. This piece was offered at Phillips de Pury London auction together with the matching necklace.

View a complete article by Luxuryculture

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

JEAN MAHIE: the first gold sculptor in Place Vendome

Great pendant and matching earrings made in 22 carat hammered gold by french jeweller-artist Jean Mahie. They will be auctioned by Doyle NY on June 23rd.

She was the first jeweller to be exhibited by Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels under her own and this began a trend in the 1970's to look for original, hand made unique pieces designed by artists.

The best way to describe her work are her own words: "In reality I am not a jeweler, I am a sculptor but I prefer the expression:"forgeron d'or" or goldsmith. My philosophy is to be as true and sincere as possible. To be able to love, you have to love yourself first. When I work I make every object for myself. Work is concentration and everything else has to disappear to have a clear mind. Inspiration comes from reading your deepest thoughts; you have to reach the core of your soul. Observation and memory lead to creation. If you meditate long enough on a problem, a solution will emerge. The world is filled with information that your psyche will transform into something personal and original. Concentration, meditation, thought, observation, time and confidence will take you toward execution and creativity. We all have in us great expectations but we do not always know how to channel them but if you work hard enough and long enough you will get results, if not success."

Monday, 13 June 2011

Elegant and unusual DAVID WEBB bracelet

Everyone knows the highly recognisable the enamelled double facing head animal bracelets created by David Webb and no doubt they are collectables for there is such a variety of them. This piece, however is quite different, it is an extremely elegant haute joaillerie creation set in platinum with different cut diamonds all immersed in pearls. I like everything about it, the delicacy and yet extravagant design, the randomness of the setting and the overall excessive and baroque feeling of it. 

This piece will be auctioned by Christie's NY on june 14th, where also another one of his popular bracelets (featured below) will be present.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

EDMOND FORET: fine craftsmanship and great master design

This pair of gold and citrine shell clips and matching earrings were made by Edmond Foret who was one of Cartier's main designers in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Some of the important commissions  of the Russian Imperial Court can be attributed to him. Around 1945 he started an affair with Claude Durel, a model for Revillon, they made it public and it became such a scandal in society that Cartier transferred him to the New York Office where he worked for almost a decade. In the mid 1950's the couple moved to Buenos Aires where Edmond Foret started to produce extremely fine and unique pieces on his own.

The set above is an example of them and the detailed sculpture work in gold shows the fine craftsmanship present across all his creations. The set will be auctioned by Christie's NY on june 14th.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

DISCOVERIES: Wilfredo Rosado's black swan

Jewellery has always been linked to fashion but it is not exactly the same. Fine Jewellery is the ultimate notch in the luxury chain but, what is more, it blends art and legacy. A private collection will always be different to another and it will tell the story of the life of the one that has put it together.

It is very difficult for a new designer to make a difference and stand out, for he/she not only has to shine amongst his contemporaries but also the creations have to beat the magnificent antique and vintage ones that have survived over more than a century.

Wilfredo Rosado's first collection has all the elements to succeed. He was mentored by Giorgio Armani for whom he worked for more than two decades and he was very close to Andy Warhol. He has spent his career looking for new forms of inspiration and he joined the urban trend set by the likes of Keith Haring and Basquiat. In 2007, he launched a project with Versace which consisted on a series of jewellery pieces co-designed with artists like Julian Schnabel and Marc Quinn that was sold for the benefit of the Whitney Museum.

His first solo collection reflects his talent and his life full of rich experience. In his search for perfection the pieces are crafted by legendary couture atelier Maison Lemarie in Paris. The brooch above is a very good example, the swan is made of diamonds, sapphires and spinels in graduated colours from white to black from the head down to the feather body.

View Wilfredo Rosado website

Thursday, 9 June 2011

VERDURA: diamonds, rubies and onix maltese cross cuff

According to Christie's this is the widest onix cuff made by Verdura that has ever come up for auction. The  piece is stunning and colour contrast so dramatic that it is probably one of the best bracelets of this popular design that I have found so far. If one had to choose one style to define Verdura's legacy in jewellery it would undoubtedly the maltese cross cuffs that Coco Chanel used to wear in matching pairs one in each arm. The one above is an unusually important one, for Verdura did not tend to use so precious stones like diamonds and rubies, he favoured design over expensive gemstones and specially in these pieces given the large scale needed to create his desired effect.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A mid 60's pearl ring by DIHN VAN for Cartier

Jean Dinh Van, a half vietnamese half french jeweller, son of a lacquer craftsman, started working for Cartier in Paris in 1950 until he opened his own shop in 1965. This is a rare ring signed by Dihn Van - Cartier. He belonged to the wild generation of Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne for whom he designed many pieces. In tune with his time, he sought freedom of expression and wanted to liberate women from wearing what he considered heavy jewellery and the constraints of preciosity. In 2003 the Museum of Decoratives Arts in Paris started to exhibit his work. The firm continues today with five shops in Paris.

This ring is a very good example of his spirit, an extremely light and delicate conceptual flower set with a fine natural pearl pierced by a diamond.

It will be auctioned by Phillips London on June 7th.

View Dinh Van website

Monday, 6 June 2011

ART DECO: Onyx and Coral combination

This is a very unusual necklace because of the combination of materials: rock crystal, onix and coral. All three of them, typical of the Art Deco style, as well as the geometrical design displayed, but it is very unusual to see them used together. This piece works perfectly, the shapes and the materials give the necklace a very oriental sense of balance.

This ring is also unusual for it uses yellow gold rather than platinum, the abstract design and the coral and onix combination resemble Art Deco, but it must be of later manufacture.
The earrings are clearly Early Art Deco however, the clasp and diamond work fitting from which the coral and onix pendants are suspended are unmistakably an inheritance from the previous Belle Epoque style.

All the pieces will be auctioned by Phillips London on June 7th 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

An antique KOKOSHNIK necklace

This is an incredibly beautiful necklace set with over 60 carats of old cut diamonds and mounted in silver and gold. It was made in the 1890 in the very popular Kokoshnik style of that period. Also called Russian Fringes, this graduated way of mounting gemstones was extremely fashionable in Europe at the end of the XIX Century and the turn of the twentieth. The style, mostly used in tiaras as well as necklaces was inspired by the grand russian Imperial Court. A Kokoshnik is a traditional women head dress that used to match the pattern of the dress, it was worn for ceremonies and to dress up and the bejewelled tiara version of it was the Court's official dress code until the Revolution.

This piece will be auctioned at Christie's London on June 8th.

There is substantial literature about this style of antique jewellery since many important pieces that have survived until today were designed in this fashion. Queen Elisabeth's one in her personal collection is one of the most magnificent examples.

A rare CARTIER tutti frutti bracelet

This tutti frutti bracelet was made by Cartier New York in 1928. It is set with carved emeralds as vive leaves and the grapes being cabochon rubies pierced with diamonds. The black enamel lines accentuate the design and the colours and make the overall effect of the piece tridimensional!.

The bracelet will be auctioned at Christie's London on june 8th.

An Art Deco CARTIER domino Brooch

Cartier made this brooch in 1921in Paris, four years before the Arts Decoratives Exhibition took place! It is a stunning piece for its simplicity and proportions (it is 7 cm long). It features a combination in black and white in perfect symmetry using onix, pearl and pave set diamonds. It has such a daring design that it must have been almost revolutionary at the time it was made for it has an masculine flavour.

It is featured at Christie's London for the June 8th auction.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A CARTIER Art Deco jade pendeloque brooch

"Pendeloque" brooches were very popular at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and their symmetry  fitted quite well in the Art Deco style. This one was made by Cartier and made around 1925, it features an important carved jadeite gourd shaped bead that hangs from a jade bar finished with cabochon rubies and embellished with black enamel and two round cabochon ruby beads set in diamonds and onix rondelles.

A more important and daring version of this brooch was auctioned by Christie's in New York last April and fetched a record figure.

The brooch at the top will be auctioned by Christie's in London on June 8th.

J.W. BENSON: delicate victorian earrings

This delicate pair of earrings will be auctioned by Christie's in London on june 8. They are signed by J.W. Benson, a famous London jeweller and watch maker from the second half of the Nineteenth Century.

As an anecdote, we posted about a exact pair of earrings back in january!

Auction preview: Rosebery natural pearl and diamond tiara at Christie's | The Jewellery Editor

Auction preview: Rosebery natural pearl and diamond tiara at Christie's | The Jewellery Editor

This delicate fob watch was made by Tiffany & Co in 1909 in the purest Belle Epoque fashion. The beautiful outer case is decorated in white and purple guilloche enamel and a diamond set floral pattern. The  internal movement is signed by Patek Phillipe and recorded in their archives.

Tiffany & Co was founded in 1837 by Charles Tiffany and he run it until 1902 when his son, Louis Confort Tiffany took over the management of the company and the creative design of their pieces then reached the golden period. He developed an Art Nouveau inspired concept but in a particular American style and he has become famous for his fondness of american gemstones like the Montana Sapphires and moonstone combinations. This watch, designed more in the style of his father, although he had passed away seven years before it was produced, seems like a transition piece and a tribute to his predecessor.

It is featured at Christie's London for the June 8th auction.

Friday, 3 June 2011

FUSSET Y GRAU: Art Nouveau Flamenco Dancer Pendant

This is a truly rare find and an important addition for collectors of Catalan Modernist Art or for Macba Museum  who this year had an exhibition dedicated to jewellery. The pendant was made by Fusset y Grau in the 1920's and it features an ivory carved figure as a Flamenco Dancer embellished with a diamond set comb and necklace. The back is made of tortoiseshell and the frame is characteristic of this maker with an extremely delicate and detailed foliate design in gold.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the Art Nouveau style was adopted in Barcelona by a rich community of artists and architects, the most famous being Gaudi. The principles of organic forms, naturalistic inspiration and popular subject-matter appealed so much to the burgeoning catalan society at the time, that the style acquired a status of its own across all arts disciplines, it is known today as Modernism.

Fusset y Grau was a renowned jewellery house that embraced this new style, as also did Masriera, and produced a series of unique and extremely finely crafted pieces coveted by collectors today. Christie's says in their catalog that some of them provided "modern" inspiration for the 1925 International decorative Arts Exhibition in Paris!.

The pendant will be auctioned by Christie's King Street in London on June 8th.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

GUSTAV MANZ: the unknown master carver

This is a surprise discovery for me brought by a blog reader! Gustav Manz was a master craftsman born in 1865 in Germany who travelled to Paris, England and South Africa to learn and study new jewellery designs before settling in the United States where he opened his own practice. He worked for all the grand houses in the first half of the Twentieth Century: Tiffany, Cartier, Yard, Marcus & Co, Black Starr & Frost and many more...; he carved extremely delicate Art Nouveau pieces for all of them that then were signed by the brand retailing them, that is why he has been almost forgotten through time. A stunning fact is that he exhibited a panther ring set in sapphires in 1924 at the Metropolitan's eighth annual Exhibition of American Industrial Art!.

Read more about his biography and art in this great article by The Magazine Antiques

The ring above is featured by Macklowe Gallery in NY.