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.
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:
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Image available on request
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Auction: London Important Jewels, Tuesday, 29 November, 2011
Viewing: Christie’s London 24 – 28 November, 2011
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*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.
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