THE AGE OF ELEGANCE AT BONHAMS

. March 27, 2007

Signed Pieces by Cartier, Bulgari, Vever & Van Cleef & Arpels

Precious jewels that exemplify some of the finest work from the 1900s to the present day by the greatest jewellers of the day, will be sold at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in New Bond Street on Thursday 19 April 2007. Signature pieces by jewellers such as Cartier, Vever, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Castellani and Marchak will be represented in this sale.

Highlights include a fine belle époque diamond, ruby and pearl devant de corsage, made by Cartier. Produced in 1910, this brooch is a rare surviving example from arguably the most extravagant period of jewellery production. Worn on the bodice, this piece is designed as a ribbon bow and set throughout with cushion-shaped, old brilliant, single and rose-cut diamonds. Styled with diamond floral clusters, six circular-cut rubies, a fringe of diamond drops and suspending six natural pearls, this elegant work is estimated at £70,000-80,000. Of all types of jewel, perhaps the bodice ornament best epitomises the lavishness of the belle époque. Large and opulent, it was worn across the tightly corseted front of the dress either as stomacher or epaulette and had a relatively short life span as it all but vanished when the bodice was replaced in fashion by looser, more vertical lines around 1910.

From 1900-1914, Cartier’s jewels drew inspiration from the Court of Versailles as a means to complement the glamorous social life of their international and wealthy clientele. Flowers, garlands, wreaths, fluttering ribbons, bows and tassels were translated from 18th century pattern books into precious jewels in the Garland Style, which in turn, had a lightness and lacelike quality due to the technical freedom and innovation of working in platinum – a metal that was as light as it was strong.

More highlights from this period include a 19th century diamond rivière set with forty-two old brilliant-cut diamonds, (46.50carats – £50,000-70,000) and a stunning mid 19th century archaeological revival lapis lazuli necklace, (£3,000-4,000). Diamond tiaras and spray brooches from this period will also be sold.

The 1920s witnessed a revolution in jewellery design as diamonds were combined with semi-precious jewels in bold geometric styles that became emblematic of the Art Deco movement. Exemplifying this style is an art deco ruby and diamond bracelet, by Vever produced, circa1925 – £15,000-20,000. This piece is accompanied by the original design drawing stamped Vever, 19 Rue de la Pont 19, Paris.

Henri Vever, author of La Bijouterie Française au XIXe Siècle, the definitive treatise of the history of 19th century French jewellery, was also from a family of talented jewellers and goldsmiths. Of the two Grand Prix awarded for design at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, one went to Boucheron, the other to Maison Vever. Henri and his brother Paul were famous for their enamelling techniques and were as highly regarded as René Lalique for their Art Nouveau jewels. By 1921, the business was run by Henri’s nephews André and Paul, who had also acquired the House of Linzeler. Only 2 or 3 studios were entrusted with Maison Vever’s striking art deco creations.

Also from this period is an art deco diamond bracelet watch, by Cartier, 1939. This beautiful timepiece, estimated at £20,000-25,000 is designed with a rectangular dial with Arabic numerals and decorated with baguette-cut diamonds.

The revival of fine fashion and couture took place after the Second World War when society hostesses were trying to put the dark days of rationing behind them.

In the sale is a fine pair of diamond pendent earrings. Designed as scrolling ribbons of brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, each suspends a pear-shaped diamond drop of D-colour, this work is estimated at £70,000-90,000.

From the 1960s, is a stylish blue and yellow sapphire ring and earclip suite, by Marchak. Estimated at £8,000-10,000, mixed-cut yellow sapphires are embedded in domes of blue sapphires and brilliant-cut diamonds. A talented young jeweller, Joseph Marchak, originally founded the company in Russia in 1878. Sometimes referred to as “The Cartier of Kiev”, Marchak was considered one of the great competitors of Fabergé and produced jewels for crowned heads, chiefs of States and for the Tsar. Joseph’s son fled the Russian Revolution and from the 1920s the company was re-born in Paris and earned a dedicated following of European and American collectors alike.

Of the same period is an impressive diamond necklace, weighing 70 carats – estimated at £120,000 – 150,000. Beautifully formed, the necklace is designed as a lattice of brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds.

Modern stones include a single oval-cut diamond ring, by Boodles , weighing 4.25 carats. Mounted in platinum, this piece is estimated at £60,000-80,000. A pair of emerald and diamond pear shap drops, by Gerard are estimated at £25,000-35,000.

PEARLS
In this sale is a rare and elegant double-strand pearl necklace produced in 1930 accompanied by a certificate stating that each of the 156 pearls were found to be natural (£15,000-20,000). Throughout history, pearls have held a unique place in the hearts of the wealthy and powerful and an exclusive privilege for royalty. Before jewellers began to cut gems, the pearl was of greater value than the diamond. In the Orient, pearls were ground into powders to cure anything from heart disease to epilepsy, with possible aphrodisiac uses as well. A single-strand cultured pearl necklace is estimated at £12,000-15,000 while a Tahitian cultured pearl necklace tinted in black is estimated at £8,000-10,000. A delicate seed pearl and diamond tassel necklace suspended on a brilliant-cut diamond chain is estimated at £4,500-5,500.

Category: Auction News

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