Lot 499. Rare steel and diamond tiara, Cartier, circa 1912. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 CHF. Lot sold 538,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's.
Of scallop design, the curved blackened steel band bordered at the top with two rows of circular-cut diamonds, the bottom decorated with a line of similarly cut stones and palmette motifs set with circular- and single-cut diamonds, both ends of scroll design similarly set, inner circumference approximately 400mm, signed Cartier, French assay and maker's marks.
Provenance: Purchased in 1912 at Cartier as a wedding gift for the grandmother of the present owner.
Bibliography: Cf.: Judy Rudoe, Cartier. 1900-1939, London, 1997, pg. 95 for another example of a steel and diamond tiara, with rubies, dated 1914.
Cf.: Philippe Trétiak, Cartier, Paris, 2005, for other examples of steel and diamond tiaras dated 1914 and an example of a tiara of similar design.
Cf.: Jean-Paul Cluzel, Cartier, Style and History, Paris, 2013, pgs. 144-145 for examples of metal and diamond tiaras.
Note: This unusual and attractive tiara is one of a small group of about five Cartier diadems made of blackened steel and diamonds between 1912 and 1915. These steel tiaras were originally kept in place with a ribbon at the back, as in this example with its original fitting. All these particular tiaras appear to have been made for Cartier by the Parisian workshop Henri Picq. An alternative patination in green on copper is suggested by a design for a kokoshnik of this type that appears in the Workshop Estimate Book for 1913. Although the design is of black colour, it is annotated 'étoiles brillantes sur fond cuivre teint vert-de-gris' (diamond stars on a copper ground the colour of verdigris).
Sotheby's. Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, Genève, 11 nov. 2015, 10:00 AM