An elegant ruby and diamond 'Camellia' brooch, by Chanel

An elegant ruby and diamond 'Camellia' brooch, by Chanel

Lot 210. An elegant Thailand ruby and diamond 'Camellia' brooch, by Chanel. Estimate USD 70,000 - USD 100,000Price realised USD 187,500. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018.

Centering upon a cushion-cut ruby pistil, weighing approximately 3.22 carats, within an overlapping pavé-set ruby petal surround, accented by circular-cut diamond veining, 2 3/4 ins., with French assay mark for 18k gold and jeweler's mark. Signed Chanel, no. 13E 173.

Accompanied by report no. CS 68019-D dated 29 May 2015 from the AGL American Gemological Laboratories stating that it is the opinion of the Laboratory that the origin of this ruby would be classified as Thailand, with standard heat enhancement and minor clarity enhancement.

Provenance: Previously sold at Christie's New York, Important Jewels, 5 December 2000, Lot 455

Note: Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel never quite explained why the camellia flower was her favorite, yet the blossom became a reoccurring motif present in her designs. Perhaps it was that at the age of thirteen she was deeply moved by a performance of Dame aux Camélias. Or conceivably, it was that Chanel witnessed notable men of the early nineteenth century, like French novelist Marcel Proust, wear the blossom pinned to the lapel as a sign of refined elegance. Nevertheless, the camellia resonated with young Coco and in 1923 she was inspired to pin the flower to a chiffon dress. From that moment on, the camellia transcended time and fashion and to this day remains an icon of the house of Chanel. 

Though Coco Chanel preferred the flower in white, since the 1920s the blossom has appeared in countless forms, sizes and colors. From silk, tweed and leather to ceramic, onyx, sapphire and ruby, Coco’s camellia has enhanced chic cocktail dresses, adorned simple ballet flats and even transformed itself into stunning jewelry designs.

Chanel’s passion for jewels stemmed from an early age and whether she was imagining costume pieces or studying precious objects, the intention was to accessorize her beloved clothes. In 1932, she experimented with fine jewelry and designed a single collection known as Bijoux de Diamants.

In November of that year the collection was exhibited in Chanel’s home in Paris. Jewelry houses at the time belittled her efforts and felt that she was a dress and a costume-jewelry maker at best. It was not until 1993 that the house of Chanel formally resumed its fine jewelry business and released a new collection. The collection was presented ceremoniously alongside Coco’s original Bijoux de Diamants. Chanel Fine Jewelry was later established in 1997 at 18 Place Vendôme.

This elegant ruby and diamond camellia flower brooch, Lot 210, was made in France and is a striking example of high jewelry by Chanel. Designed and executed before the firm’s commitment to jewelry in the 1990s, the brooch was likely prompted by a specific client request. Through vibrant rubies and lively diamonds, this fine jewelry example reflects the house’s celebrated precision and craftsmanship and honors Mademoiselle Chanel’s much loved camellia.

Christie's. Magnificent Jewels, New York, 17 April 2018