Unique art jewelry to make a statement at Bonhams Fine Jewellery Sale
April 9, 2015: Seen at fairs such as Design Miami, art jewellery, created by legendary designers such as Coco Chanel, Cartier and Andrew Grima, is taking centre stage. And so, Bonhams has a wonderful series of pieces by these artists in its forthcoming Fine Jewellery sale on April 22, where in addition to dazzling jewels, items showcasing creative expression take pride of place.
One of the lots, a retro twist necklace by Coco Chanel, set with oval citrine cabochons, is estimated at £4,000-6,000. Fine jewellery by Chanel is extremely rare, and the undulating links of this choker-style piece are designed for both style and comfort. The signature on this piece dates from between 1954 and 1971. Chanel often designed clothing and accessories to go together as one cohesive statement, and this necklace would have perfectly suited the changing post-war fashions of the mid-20th century.
The talents of German-born Wilhelm Schmidt (1845-1938) were such that he is rightly regarded as a sculptor. A late-19th century opal cameo brooch that is attributed to him, estimated at £10,000-15,000, is a minutely detailed piece carved from a single piece of opal matrix, depicting the head of Mercury in profile. The front of the brooch features the god’s feathered helmet in precious opal, while his bearded face consists of contrasting dark opal matrix. Schmidt claimed to be the first to carve opal into cameos in the 1870s.
The House of Cartier is well-known for its artistic verve. The playful side of art jewellery can be seen in the Cartier enamel, coral and diamond ladybird brooch, circa 1925-30, which carries a pre-sale estimate of £6,000-8,000. A small art deco laque burgauté and coral box, circa 1925, features lacquer panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl and engraved silver sections (£10,000-15,000).
Laque burgauté refers to the exquisite East Asian technique of decorating lacquer with intricate inlays of tinted mother-of-pearl, often engraved and combined with gold and silver foil. The technique originated in China as early as the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, and remained popular for centuries afterward spreading to nearby areas including Japan. Cartier in the 1920s and 30s had reached their zenith as master craftsmen by reviving these ancient techniques.
Andrew Grima, the 20th century master, also contributes to this strong showing of art jewellery. One piece, a gold and diamond-set 'Super Shell' necklace (£8,000-12,000), features a large spiral seashell pendant 'wrapped' in gold and single-cut diamond detail. Launched in 1972, Grima’s ‘Super-Shell’ range of jewellery was inspired by exotic shells that the jeweller had acquired in Australia, which he then converted into stylish and wearable pieces.
The sale takes place at Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, at 2pm on April 22, 2015. Bids can be placed online on www.bonhams.com, via telephone, in writing, and also in person on the day of the sale