In jewellery as in the fine and decorative arts, workmanship is key. The material, the choice of stones, their cut, and how those stones match within the whole design can be the making or breaking of a piece. So it is logical that, having laboured over a specific composition, a jewellery house would want to put their name to their work in the same way a painter would.
The idea of signing jewellery has been around since the late 1800s, but with the beginning of the 20th century and the Art Deco revolution designers began to really want to leave their mark. Amid the changes and rebellions the turn of the century
brought, jewellers began to pioneer individual styles to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
For the great houses such as Boucheron, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari, signing works is a matter of pride and a way of becoming associated with a certain innovation or design. The panther design has long been a symbol of Cartier’s elegance, which has since inspired a whole range of exotic and domestic animals, and Van Cleef & Arpels’ intricate ‘mystery set’ technique (featured in our 26 November 2014 edition) has been their calling card since its inception in the 1930s. A signature is a guarantee of authenticity, quality and provenance.
Our 3 June sale presents some beautiful examples of signed pieces that demonstrate the exquisite craftsmanship of the great jewellery workshops.