Monday, 24 September 2012

A great diamond "rosebud" brooch by VERDURA

This brooch is not one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery to be auctioned by Sotheby's from the Estate of Brooke Astor, however it is one of my favourites. It was made by Verdura in 1958 and it is set with 206 circular diamonds and 29 baguette cut. Both the craftsmanship and the design are exceptional.

Notes from Sotheby's catalogue

In 1934, after years of working as a textile and jewelry designer for Coco Chanel in Paris, Fulco di Verdura took the advice of Diana Vreeland, the fashion journalist and later Vogue editor, and immigrated to the United States to work under the tutelage of jewelry designer Paul Flato. As Vreeland suspected, this would become an auspicious partnership. Flato's jewelry was sculptural and whimsical, which was perfectly aligned with Verdura's own design aesthetic. While working for Flato, Verdura made a name for himself by creating jewels that were striking and contemporary yet playful. His designs garnered such attention that he was able to open his own Fifth Avenue salon in 1939 with the financial backing of Cole Porter and Vincent Astor.
Once Verdura opened his own salon, he created jewelry for many members of New York's social elite. Given Vincent Astor's role as one of Fulco di Verdura's patrons, it comes as no surprise that Mrs. Astor's collection is filled with jeweled delights from the designer. The naturalism of the 'rosebud' brooch and 'leaf and flower' bracelet recall his days with Flato, while the streamlined mix-and-match 'ribbon' bracelets show his playful side. In 1940 Vogue proclaimed that "any jewel that Verdura touches becomes a more interesting jewel;" the jewelry in Mrs. Astor's collection exemplifies this statement as the beauty of each piece is enhanced by its uniqueness.

An excessive 1960's coral necklace by VAN CLEEF and ARPELS

This coral necklace with a huge tassel and matching ear clips was made by Van Cleef and Arpels in the 1960's. It represents very well the flavour of the jewellery during those years; bold designs and semiprecious stones. The demi parure belonged to Brooke Astor and it will also be part of the auction held by Sotheby's NY on september 25th.

Van Cleef and Arpels particularly favoured this style and there are several combinations of similar compositions, like one below, made in the 1970's.

A VAN CLEEF and ARPELS Mughal inspired CARTIER

This is a good story... In 1947 Barbara Hutton commissioned a necklace-tiara to Cartier with seven exquisite emeralds that belonged to Grand Duchess Vladimir. Cartier had purchased the stones in 1919 from the Grand Duchess when she escaped Russia and later had sold them to Edith Rockefeller McCormick. Cartier purchased the emeralds back in 1935 upon the death of Mrs McCormick and sold them to Barbara Hutton for more than one million dollars. The stones were initially set in a pair of earrings, a ring and a sautoir but Miss Hutton asked Cartier at a later stage, to design a Mughal inspired necklace to hold them as pendants. She sold the necklace to Van Cleef and Arpels in 1967. The necklace was identical to the one featured above except for the pearls. In 1967 Van Cleef resold the emeralds in another piece and in 1972 they sold the necklace above (signed and numbered) to Brooke Astor. The piece will be auctioned by Sotheby's NY on september 25th.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Auction Highlight: SOTHEBY'S NY presents the Estate of Brooke Astor

Sotheby's NY will be auctioning 900 items form the estate of Brooke Astor, one of New York's most notorious socialite and collector. And of course there are some magnificent jewels.

Perhaps the most relevant piece is this necklace made by Bvlgari in 1959. The story f the piece is fascinating, as explained by Brooke Astor in her autobiography (1980). The diamond and emerald necklace and earrings were commissioned during a trip that she and her husband made to London in autumn 1958, when Vincent Astor discussed and selected the stones personally. He died during the spring of the following year and Brooke did not know anything about the piece. It was almost two years later when she received a letter from the house of Bvlgari with the details of the pieces as well a note from her husband asking for the delivery to take place in March for Brooke's birthday. She then completed the purchase and regarded it as the last personal gift from her beloved husband!.

The necklace is set in platinum with 13 drop emeralds that weight approximately 71 carats, 14 cabochon emeralds weighting 41 carats set next to 14 marquise diamonds (8.5 carats) and surrounded by some 50 carats in brilliant cut diamonds!.

Investing in Antique Jewellery | Homes and antiques

Collectables: What Should I Start Collecting?

Collecting can often start as an unconscious decision, with individuals gravitating towards objects and valuables that they think are attractive. Over the course of a few weeks, months or years, the number of chosen items grows into quite a collection and before long, people realise that their passion for collecting has made its mark. Whether they’re trying to find the right jewellery collection or can’t resist buying pottery pigs, every shopping trip offers the excitement of finding a new addition. There comes a time, however, when people may question ‘what should I start collecting?’ and it’s at this time that some important decisions need to be made.

For some people there may be an obvious choice of collectibles, especially if collections have already been started without much thought. If this is the case it’s often important to try and define a collection, so that, in the future, complimentary pieces can be bought. For example, instead of collecting all the pottery pigs that can be found, people might like to collect pigs by a certain potter, of a particular type or from a specific era. This can help stop a collection getting out of control, and enables people to create a unique set of valuables which are inspiring, rather than hundreds of pieces which don’t necessarily complement each other.

Some people come to collecting as novices and want to start the hobby from scratch. Trying to decide what to collect can be difficult at this initial stage, and it’s important to make the right choice. What to collect should be very personal, and it’s important to make the decision depending on personal preferences, rather than trying to become involved in collectibles that simply don’t cause any excitement or thrill. There’s no point trying to collect valuables that hold no interest, as collectors will simply find that their passion starts to wane and they end up with a half-hearted attempt. Instead, a collection must enthral and excite a collector.

The ideal place to start when thinking about what to collect is to consider interests and passions, and find a complimentary collectors niche. For instance, movie enthusiasts could collect memorabilia from their favourite films, or merchandise and valuables that are connected to famed actors. Car enthusiasts might like to start a collection of model cars, or even the real thing if money is no object. Meanwhile, brooches, stamps or work by a favourite artist are all great ideas for collections.

Starting, creating and building a collection is a very personal thing. It can take a lot of time and money to get a collection really worth talking about, and people spend many years looking for rare memorabilia or pristine pieces of art to add to their valuables. Collectors should always look to start collecting objects because they like them, instead of choosing pieces that hold no interest other than the possibility to make a future fortune. And, by being smart and savvy when it comes to building a collection, collectors can indulge in their passion and create collections that will inspire others for years to come.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

CARTIER retro brooch and bracelet combination

I could not resist writing about this piece!, a 1940's bangle set with three detachable clips in yellow gold and diamonds made by Cartier. It is a cute bracelet and I particularly like the "convertible" ideas, I find them fun; however what has made this one really special for me is the fact that I have one flower brooch exactly like the big one but set with sapphires! and signed Cartier London instead of Cartier Paris...
The bracelet above is coming up for auction tomorrow at Sotheby's NY

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

CARTIER citrine and ebonite mystery clock

Clocks that do more than just tell time have fascinated connoisseurs for centuries. Singing bird boxes, automatons, and Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin’s pendules mystérieuses captured the imagination of an eager clientele in the nineteenth century. It would take another century before clocks again achieved a similar level of inventiveness. In the second decade of the twentieth century, Louis Cartier collaborated with Maurice Coüet to create clocks that seemed to defy natural laws: the hands moved without any visible operating mechanism. Called mystery clocks, these new inventions mesmerized viewers. Although there was no scientific mystery behind how these clocks worked, there was an artistic magic in the ingenuity and craftsmanship that created the optical illusion. The clock hands were set into transparent rotating discs with toothed metal rims propelled by gears in the clock case. These intricately made clocks took from three to twelve months to complete by as many as six or seven skilled craftsmen. They are considered the apogee of Cartier’s work during the 1920s and 1930s.

The dials on most Cartier mystery clocks are rock crystal; only a few examples incorporate citrine. Citrine has the same see-though quality as rock crystal, but on this clock its striking coloration counterbalances the surrounding turquoise chapter ring and ebonite frame. Rose-cut diamond florets soften the linearity of the design. The clock is in the shape of a Japanese screen and the yellowish tones of the citrine recall the gold-leaf decoration on many such screens.

This clock was formerly in the collection of Anna Thomson Dodge, wife of Horace E. Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge Brothers Company. Her mansion Rose Terrace in Grosse Point, Michigan, housed a collection of European art and antiques, many of which were given to the Detroit Museum of Arts. Other pieces can be seen at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. One of the first single-axle mystery clocks produced by Cartier, this clock is a testament to the time in which it was made and to the connoisseurship of the person who owned it. It is truly one of the masterpieces of Cartier’s Art Deco period. It will be presented by Siegelson at the Paris Biennale. 

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A SCHLUMBERGER coloured fish brooch

Undoubtedly, one of the most accomplished jewellers that Tiffany has ever employed was Jean Schlumberger. In a similar fashion to Verdura with Chanel, he started his career designing costume pieces for Elsa Schiaparelli before moving onto fine jewellery. Having been born on the same day, he is one of my favourite masters; his initial passion was drawing but his family tried to convince him to become a banker and he did, but lasted only a year. When he joined Tiffany's in the mid sixties, Jean designed the famous "Tiffany Diamond setting" and was given total freedom to produce his colourful and original ideas. Elisabeth Taylor was one of his fans (together with Jackie Onassis, the Duchess of Windsor or Audrey Hepburn) and the brooch above reminds of the all diamond one that she wore for the Night of the Iguana. This one is set in yellow gold with pink sapphires and green tourmalines with two cabochon blue sapphires and a coral straw. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's New York on September 20th.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Grand VERDURA pieces coming up for auction in NY

Sotheby's NY next auction on September 20th will include a small number of pieces made by Twentieth Century Jewelry legend Fulco, Duque of Verdura. He became famous for his groundbreaking designs and the use new materials like shell or ebony. For some the fact that he was born in 1899 on the cusp of Palermo's Golden Conch probably marked his destiny. Despite all his travels and living most of his life abroad, first in Paris working with Coco Chanel and later in New York, Fulco always sought inspiration in his Sicilian background, either in its colours and light or in its local motifs and history. His cuff bracelet with maltese crossed set in precious or semiprecious stones are probably his trademark pieces. The brooch above is set in gold and palladium with rubies and diamonds and it was made in 1944. The cuff bracelet below is made of black jade and the gold maltese cross is set with an amethyst, peridots, diamonds and pearls.

Before embracing a career as a jewellery designer, Fulco had a short but very intense life as a nobleman socialite right after he recovered form a First World War injury at the age of seventeen. With little money of his own he joined a group of similar youngsters and for a couple of years he devoted himself to enjoying and discovering as many characters as he could find within the circuit of the social season around Lido in Venice. He forged friendships with the likes of Coco Chanel, american publicist Elsa Maxwell or famous song writer Cole Porter that were to have a huge influence in his professional success later. Perhaps as valuable as those connections were the wealth of experiences and anecdotes that he collected and which surely were to be a strong influence for the inspiration of his designs. For example, he met Rasputin's supposed assassin Felix Youssoupov and his wife Irina who used to wear a single earring with a large drop pearl which happened to be the famous Peregrina, later acquired by Richard Burton as a gift for Liz Taylor!.