Gold, the first precious metal widely known to mankind, has a historical association with immortality, wealth and power. Angelina Chen, Christie’s Jewellery Head of e-commerce, offers an in-depth tour of Christie’s Jewels Online auction, 11–21 April
Gold’s unique density makes it one of the strongest metals while remaining extremely malleable. This attribute has fuelled the creativity of jewellers as they discover and implement various ways of displaying their designs with this coveted and versatile material.
This classic ‘Tubogas’ watch by Bulgari illustrates gold’s malleable function. The artisanal technique where gold is made into a slightly elastic tube originated during Roman times and has since been adapted into a tubing formation which looks like a gas tube, hence ‘Tubogas.’
Since tensile strength is so strong with gold, jewellers can artfully design, mould, and adapt the metal to create the illusion of lightness. A prime example of this is the fairy brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels, where the wings of the fairy have delicate cutouts, yet the piece still remains substantial, allowing it to be worn with ease. Or the lace-like effect of the Cartier ear clips which were designed to provide a delicate aura, but in actuality are incredibly stable and sturdy — suitable for daily wear.
One of the most interesting characteristics of gold is that it can take on different textures, colours and finishes. The diamond and ruby cuff is rendered in rose gold and to add another design element, a ‘Florentine’ finish is hand-worked onto the cuff.
David Webb is the master of the hammered look and feel, which he has carefully incorporated into many of his pieces. As for the different hues of gold, jewellers mix variations in their designs, such as the tri-gold suite from Marina B.
Whether worn on its own or set with all types of gemstones, gold is unrivalled in versatility. Because of its malleability and strength, gold has also been a favoured medium for accessories.
Wonderful examples are the Tiffany & Co. gold flask, the Cartier pencil that converts into a ruler and the extremely flexible diamond mesh belt.
Its warm tones and polished appearance offers jewellers and collectors endless and exciting possibilities. Discover fine jewellery from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and more, in the Christie’s Jewels Online auction 11-21 April, 2016.
For more special features, videos and information on the sales, visit our Spring Jewels homepage.