The Stuff of Dreams: Sotheby’s December 2016 Jewelry Auctions



fullsizerender-3One of my favorite outings during the holiday season is attending the large auction house previews and Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Fine Jewels proved exceptional this year. Instead of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head, there are brooches from Boucheron and Cartier and a few of the jewels from The Property From The Collection of philanthropist Marjorie S. Fisher, Palm Beach filling my dreams.

Mrs. Fisher created and spearheaded the board of a number of charitable and empowering organizations and was quoted as saying “all giving starts with your heart and then you use your head. The more you give, the more you get. Everything in life is based on love and what you do to help others. The rest is just cream—sometimes sour cream—but it’s still all cream.” In addition to her passion for helping those in need, she had an affinity for eclectic jewelry from a roster of renowned jewelers and different time periods.


img_2031My favorite lot from her collection is a necklace that originally belonged to leading lady of the silver screen and jewelry collector, Norma Shearer, purchased around 1941 and  designed by George Headley as a cascade of flowers, ivy leaves and bows. It was sold in Paul Flato’s shop on Sunset Boulevard, a favorite of Shearer and other stars of her day. It has a matching bracelet which was retailed by Laykin et Cie.


I am also particularly in awe of Mrs. Fisher’s pieces that depict flora and fauna as well as pieces from a vast array of influential jewelers.

Here are a few to which I am especially partial (read: my jaw dropped and almost locked in place):

-An 18K gold, platinum and diamond tulip necklace by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., France. This is a singular almost life-like depiction of the tulips, which mean declaration of love in the language of flowers.


-A platinum, 18K gold ,enamel and diamond lapel-watch by Tiffany & Co, designed as flowers—with white dial,Arabic numeral indicators and blued steel hands ,set with two old European cut diamonds. The dial is signed Tiffany & Co. The Swiss movement and case signed Made for Tiffany & Co. by the Longines Watch Co.screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-39-30-am


 -A gem set butterfly from Rene Bovin with multi colored sapphires and diamonds set with en-tremblant wings, which made my heart flutter.


-A pair of 18K two-color carnation ear clips by Michele della Valle which are designed as carnation flower heads, one with pave set diamond petals the other with pave set ruby petals. The stems feature buff topped calibre cut peridots. As timeless as these earrings are, they are also on trend with the mismatched earrings we are seeing so much of in modern design. These evoke elegance and enduring beauty and are gracefully articulated.

Other jewels in this section of the sale that quickens my pulse:

-A geometrical brooch, which was not signed, but attributed to Jean Fouquet, circa 1927. The vibrant color combination of turquoise enamel, amethyst and citrine and linear silhouette creates an eye catching piece that is indicative of the time period yet still feels current and contemporary.



-Although I have a serious crush on the Verdura ruby Wrapped Heart brooch on the cover of my book If These Jewels Could Talk, which was given by Tyron Power to his first wife Anabella, it’s not like I would turn down this later version of the brooch by Verdura in sapphire, platinum and gold.


As for the entire Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels offerings, as the song goes “it may be winter outside but in my heart it’s spring”— and I was drawn to the many floral brooches that I previewed.

One that made my heart skip a beat is the circa 1904 Boucheron brooch with bunches of Hydrangeas, gracefully articulated, with petals applied with white enamel and the heads of two peacocks on both sides of the piece. It is set with small rose-cut diamonds and one briolette diamond dropping from the bottom.

I fell for another lapel watch, depicting a double pansy motif by Thomas Kirkpatrick. The top pansy acts as the pendant while the bottom one is the front side of the watch. The floral design is applied with purple, yellow and black enamel and old min-cut diamonds. The watch features a circular dial with Arabic numeral indicators and the pendant detachable, and it is circa 1900.




Floral motifs also form the design of a pair of 18K gold, diamond, colored diamond and green Chalcedony ear clips by Van Cleef & Arpels.


Throughout the lots, there is a strong showing of brooches and clips, which were are also seeing in the studios of modern designs and the shops and showcases of antique dealers. While surveying the showcases I was most drawn to the more colorful pieces of this preview, however I do have a favorite all-diamond piece, which is this Boucheron platinum and diamond brooch, circa 1920


A pair of 18K gold, platinum, aquamarine and diamond winged heart brooches by Verdura are also a highlight of the brooch selection.

The brooch I would most like to own is in the accompanying Sotheby’s Fine Jewels Sale and is a clip-brooch by Cartier. The color and stone combination is striking and reaches the heights of perfect in this floral design applied with eggshell-colored enamel and set with carved nephrite, amazonite and citrines, accented by round cabochon rubies, further set with old European and single-cut diamonds, circa 1930.



There are myriad diamond Art Deco through mid-century bracelets in all of the sales and many are swoon worthy but these three are my picks of the sale—once again going for color in enamel and gemstones over the sparkle of all-diamond pieces.

After recently seeing and writing about a awe-inspiring Lucien Falize locket which I saw at Wartski’s and was designed with four panels of Japanese cloisonné, I couldn’t help but be equally attracted the this gold and enamel bracelet by Alexis Falize which is designed in the same style of the locket but is composed of a total nine various Japanese-inspired motifs of multi-colored birds and flowers, the reverse of each of the panels is decorated with Japanese-inspired characters in yellow cloisonné enamel against a ground of royal blue enamel, circa 1869-1875.


Throughout my 20 years writing about jewelry, I have seen many Cartier Tutti Fruitti pieces set in platinum with diamonds and carved sapphire, ruby and emerald leaves designed in the Mogul style. But this rare bracelet, designed as a meandering vine, completed by baguette, old European and single-cut diamonds with it’s thinner proportions than most bracelets in this style renders it more versatile and wearable for a wide demographic of women. It is signed Cartier London, circa, 1930.


And last but definitely not least– these three bracelets by David Webb set with diamonds and each with leaved composed of different carved gemstones in rubies, emeralds and sapphires with black enamel is a stack that could become my personal staple –the bracelets to wear with everything.