Offering a glimpse into the history of the 407-year-old brand, Sotheby’s will host an exhibition of Mellerio’s Heritage Collection, including jewels made for Queen Marie Antoinette and Empress Eugenie, and also auction 25 pieces from the jeweller
March 9, 2020: Giving an ode to the heritage house of Mellerio, a jewelry brand from Paris, Sotheby’s Paris will host two events charting the illustrious history of the 407-year-old brand, An exhibition of 17 treasures from Mellerio’s heritage collection will be showcased from March 28 to 31, and the sale of 25 pieces made by the jeweller in the last 30 years of the 20th century will be offered in the “Paris Joaillerie” auction on April 1.
Founded in 1613, the 14-generation family-run jeweller can claim Marie de Medici as its first client and Marie Antoinette as its most famous. It has created heirlooms for the greatest dynasties around the world, from Queen Victoria and the Maharaja of Kapurthala to the Queens of Europe and the Tsarina of Russia.
The exhibition will showcase some of the most important commissions by the jeweller, including an 18th-century antique cameo and ruby bracelet most likely sold to Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste Mellerio (1765-1850) in 1780. Set with seven cameos featuring Roman emperors, the bracelet bears witness to two features the queen particularly appreciated in jewellery: rubies and cameos.
Another highlight is an articulated and transformable peacock feather brooch with calibrated diamonds, sapphires and rubies surrounding a large emerald, purchased in 1868 by Empress Eugénie. This masterpiece of jewellery participated in several “Universal Exhibitions”, which showed Mellerio’s innovative creations to much of the world.
The peacock can be found in another sumptuous piece to go on view: a pearl, pink gold, diamond and enamel choker from 1900, a time when the jeweller was high in demand among European elites. Spanning 240 years of Mellerio’s history, the exhibition will also feature an 1825 citrine and yellow gold parure, a diamond and turquoise floral tiara from 1860 and a 1960s coral and diamond clip.
For the auction, Sotheby’s will offer a delicate Mellerio necklace with round aquamarine and old-cut diamonds, inspired by archaeological jewellery and made at the end of the 19th century (est. €8,000 – 12,000).
Star lots in the sale include two late 1970s emerald designs reminiscent of the necklaces made for Empress Eugenie and the Russian Princess Zénaïde Youssoupov in the late 19th century: a 1979 demi-parure, composed of a necklace and a pair of earrings set with oval cabochon emeralds (est. €20,000 – 40,000) and a 1977 necklace featuring a 19.76-carat cabochon emerald drop (est. €20,000 – 40,000).
The jewels in the sale also demonstrate Mellerio’s bravura in cutting stones and marrying different cuts in a single jewel. Nature has inspired some of Mellerio’s most elegant creations over the centuries. Italy, the ancestral home of the Mellerio family, influenced many designs over the years.