AN EXQUISITE ART DECO DIAMOND, MOTHER-OF-PEARL, CORAL, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL VANITY CASE, BLACK, STARR & FROST
Of rectangular outline in orange enamel and 18K gold, applied with varicolored enamel and gold foliate and geometric motifs, the lid decorated with a mother-of-pearl panel inlaid with two carved coral birds and various carved hardstone, mother-of-pearl and gold flowers, with rose-cut diamond detail, opening to reveal a mirror and three covered compartments, one with a removable perfume vial, circa 1925--3¼ x 1 7/8 x ½ ins.
Signed by Black, Starr & Frost
In the days of glamour and splendorous living, when a fashionable lady danced until dawn, elegant accessories were the norm. The properly attired lady of the 1920s deemed herself undressed if she was without her requisite cosmetic articles, usually consolidated within an exquisitely designed vanity case. According to Sylvie Raulet in "Art Deco Jewelry", "...the most trivial item...offered a delightful pretext for combining the richest materials in the creation of a unique work of art--a work which could compete with the rarest pieces of the Renaissance and the eighteenth century."
The vanity case, based on the oriental inro, was comprised of several compartments that held such essential items as a compact, lipstick, perfume flask and comb. The illustrated vanity case was made by Black, Starr & Frost, the oldest jewelry house in America, known for sumptuous toilet articles that rivaled their French counterparts. The lid on this box was ornamented with two carved coral birds and other floral hardstones inlaid into a mother-of-pearl ground; the design similar to patterning on oriental carpets. The reverse is decorated with an eight-petaled flower surrounded by a stylized vine motif, a variation of floral designs on Chinese porcelain dishes. In its use of vivid colors, oriental motifs and rectilinear diamond mountings, this vanity box is characteristic of the Art Deco period and a true work of art in miniature form. For illustration of other examples of Black, Starr & Frost vanity cases, see Penny Proddow and Debra Healy, "American Jewelry, Glamour and Tradition", New York, 1987, page 93.