Release: Important Jewels - London, 29 November 2011

Christie’s sale of Important Jewels on Tuesday 29 November 2011 features over 400 stellar lots, with Royal and historic jewels offered from The Property of HM Queen Elena of Italy and Her Descendants, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and jewels by Boivin, Bvlgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.


Christie’s sale of Important Jewels on Tuesday 29 November 2011 features over 400 stellar lots, with Royal and historic jewels offered from The Property of HM Queen Elena of Italy and Her Descendants, classic Art Deco, Art Nouveau and signed jewels by Boivin, Bvlgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. With estimates ranging from £1,000 to £250,000, the sale is expected to realise in the region of £5 million.

Royal and Historic Jewels

The Property of HM Queen Elena of Italy and Her Descendants comprises 27 lots (lot 207-233) and is led by a finely pierced 1920s diamond bracelet, with a stunning floral motif, by Alfredo Ravasco (estimate: £25,000-35,000), illustrated right. Ravasco created jewellery for the Royal House of Savoy, including presentation brooches for the Princess of Piedmont, later Queen Maria José of Italy. He was one of the few Italian jewellers to exhibit at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Queen Elena (1873-1952) had a keen interest in gem stones and jewels and was generous with presents of jewellery to her four daughters. Born Princess Jelena Petrovic-Njegos of Montenegro, the daughter of Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro and his wife Princess Milena Vukotic, Elena married the heir to the Italian throne, the Prince of Naples, in October 1896. Upon the assassination of King Umberto I, her husband became King Victor Emmanuel III and she became Queen Consort of Italy from 1900 until 1946. A great beauty of her time, The New York Times remarked on her glamour and popularity with the Italian people in August 1900, noting “she is thought to resemble the Byzantine Madonnas of ancient icons.” A great philanthropist, Elena worked as a nurse in World War I, turning the Quirinal Palace and Villa Margherita into hospitals. In 1937 she was awarded the Golden Rose of Christianity by Pope Pius XII in recognition of her charitable work. 

Since 1766, Christie’s has been synonymous with auctions of Royal and aristocratic collections. From the sale of Madame du Barry’s jewels in 1795; the Russian Crown Jewels in 1927, and the Private Collection of HRH The Princess Margaret in 2006, to The Portland Pearls which were sold more recently in 2010, these events have created worldwide interest and are remembered as legendary moments in auction history. 

Elsewhere in the sale, notable historic lots range from a charming pair of George III diamond ear pendants (estimate: £8,000-12,000) to the famous catalogue detailing the Russian crown jewels, Russia’s Treasure of Diamond and Precious Stones, Fersman (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

Always a highlight of the sale, the regular Cartier section features over 50 lots, from jewels and cufflinks to watches, clocks and accessories. Jewellery highlights include a bold Art Deco panelled bracelet set with large circular cut diamonds, which epitomises the strong geometric design so sought after from this period (estimate: £50,000-70,000), an attractive emerald and diamond bracelet mounted by Cartier in the 1950s (estimate: £80,000-100,000), and a modern ‘C’ necklace, which is sold to benefit Iran’s Children’s charity (estimate: £15,000-20,000).

The nine ladies watches span the decades, with a gem-set wristwatch from the early 20th century (estimate: £3,000-4,000), classics from the 1920s including an Art Deco enamel and diamond model (estimate: £5,000-7,000) and more recent examples such as a diamond-set ‘tank’ with a black silk strap (estimate: £2,500-3,000).  Clocks capturing the essence of Cartier’s inimitable style feature an Art Deco silver desk clock (estimate: £20,000-25,000) and an agate and enamel travelling clock (estimate: £6,000-8,000), both. The Cartier compacts, cigarette cases, evening bags and vanity cases on offer provide the market with a wide array of delightful and highly coveted accessories.

The finesse of Cartier cufflinks is demonstrated by a pair which is diamond-set and semi-circular  in design (estimate: £2,000-3,000); those featured in a refined emerald dress-set (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and a pair of emerald semi-circular gold cufflinks from The Property of HM Queen Elena of Italy and Her Descendants (estimate: £5,000-7,000). Providing a veritable treasure trove of options for the discerning gentleman, the selection of cufflinks - by other houses - continues throughout the sale, and includes an antique pair made of rock crystal and decorated with game bird paintings (estimate: £1,000-1,500).

Setting the tone of other signed jewels are two stunning mystery set brooches by Van Cleef & Arpels: the quintessential ruby and diamond ‘Deux Fleurs’, which is the cover lot (estimate: £80,000-120,000), and a sapphire and diamond ‘Campanule’ (estimate: £70,000-100,000). An unusual jewel encrusted elephant bangle with sliding covers by Boivin (estimate: £8,000-12,000) and selection of multi-coloured jewels by Marina B and Bvlgari are among the other temptations. 

Art Nouveau
A reaction to the industrial age that preceded it, the Art Nouveau movement captured the atmosphere and passion of the fin de siècle, and the moral and artistic freedom that characterised the period between the early 1890s and around 1910. Jewellery was one of the purest and most successful expressions of the new aesthetic and the 11 jewels offered in this sale (lot 68 - 78) epitomise the new approach. The majority of those featured were executed by the Spanish jeweller Luis Masriera (1872-1958). Having studied under the famous Lossier at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva, and greatly influenced by René Lalique and the artist Alphonse Mucha, Masriera had a meticulous eye for detail and a style which is notably classical and intimate. This is illustrated by the diamond, pearl and plique a jour enamel pendant/brooch depicting a classical maiden tipping an amphora of diamond-set ‘water’ (estimate: £8,000-10,000). 

For full information on all the lots offered in the sale please click on the link below to look at the online catalogue:


# # #
Image available on request
Visit Christie’s on the web at


Auction: London Important Jewels, Tuesday, 29 November, 2011
Viewing: Christie’s London 24 – 28 November, 2011

About Christie’s
Christie’s, the world's leading art business had global auction and private sales in the first half of 2011 that totaled £2.0 billion/$3.2 billion. In 2010 it achieved global auction and private sales of £3.3 billion/$5.0 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's conducted the greatest auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and today remains a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 sales annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s has 53 offices in 32 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in emerging and new markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s has sold 8 of the 10 most important single-owner collections in history, including the Paul G. Allen Collection—the most valuable collection ever offered at auction (November 2022). In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). 

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability by reducing our carbon emissions by 50% and pledging to be net zero by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.