© Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Geneva – On 12 November 2019, Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction will present the finest and most sought-after gemstones, including D flawless diamonds, coloured diamonds, pearls, Kashmir sapphires, Burmese rubies and Colombian emeralds, alongside important signed jewels and historic pieces. The jewels will be on view at Christie’s London from 22 to 23 October and at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva from 7 to 12 November during Christie’s Luxury Sales.
Transformable jewels will star in the sale with innovative Art Deco designs from Cartier, including three exceptional brooches, formerly in the collection of Countess Béatrice of Granard OBE (1883-1972) (estimate: CHF 180,000-220,000). Born Beatrice Mills, daughter of the great American financier and banker Ogden Mills, Beatrice became known as a famous hostess and racehorse owner and breeder. She married in 1909 the 8th Earl of Granard, living between Paris and Castle Forbes in Ireland.
Lot 194. Art Deco diamond brooches, Cartier. Estimate CHF 180,000 - CHF 220,000 (USD 180,000 - CHF 220,000). Price realised CHF 531,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Old pear-shaped diamond of 13.74 carats, cushion-shaped diamonds of 7.54 and 6.15 carats, old and circular-cut diamonds, platinum and gold, 1937, with later imitation pearl and diamond setting for wear as a necklace, brooches 5.2 and 4.5 cm, necklace 34.0 cm, one brooch signed Cartier London, the other two brooches nos. 2 and 5.
Provenance: Christie's Saint Moritz, 17 February 1994, lot 671.
Literature: G. Munn, Tiaras Past and Present, London, V&A Publishing, 2002, p. 107 for a picture of the tiara created by Cartier in 1937.
Note: Lot 194 was formerly in the collection of OBE (1883-1972), who was born Beatrice Mills, daughter of the great American financier and banker Ogden Mills. A famous hostess and race horse owner and breeder, she married in 1909 the 8th Earl of Granard. She lived between Paris and Castle Forbes in Ireland.
Portrait of Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard (1883-1972). Private collection / All rights reserved.
Cartier London created an amazing tiara for Beatrice Countess of Granard in 1937 (illustrated XXX). The three brooches sold as lot 194, are illustrated as being the central part of the tiara (signed Cartier London) as well as two side panels (numbered 2 and 5). It was very common for jewellers to create tiaras or necklaces with detachable pieces, for them to be worn different ways on different occasions. Christie’s is honoured to offer these beautiful Art Deco brooches, rare witnesses of a bygone era.
Photograph of the tiara made for Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard by Cartier in 1937, featuring lot 194 © G. Munn, Tiaras Past and Present, London, V&A Publishing, 2002, p. 107.
Further outstanding pieces in the sale include a superb Art Deco diamond Bandeau by Cartier, which can also be worn as a choker, two bracelets and as a brooch (estimate: CHF 300,000-500,000). The bandeau is the most timeless head ornament, having been in fashion during the early 20th century and enjoying a resurgence today. It transcended the Art Nouveau, Belle Époque and into the Art Déco period where the bandeau was the most fashionable accessory. Further examples of transformable jewels from the leading jewellery houses include an iconic diamond ‘zip’ necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels (estimate: CHF170,000-270,000).
Lot 245. Superb Art Deco diamond Bandeau, Cartier. Estimate CHF 300,000 - CHF 500,000 (USD 300,000 - CHF 500,000). Price realised CHF 1,065,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Cushion, old and baguette-cut diamonds, platinum (French marks), detachable for wear as a choker, as two bracelets or as a brooch, circa 1920, bandeau 40.5 cm, choker 34.0 cm, bracelets 17.8 cm, brooch 6.0 cm, brooch signed Cartier Made in France, brooch and bracelets nos. 7071C.
The head ornament called bandeau derives its name from the French word ‘bande’ meaning ‘strip’. Through its simple yet elegant design, it can be worn as a tiara or as a hairband, making it the most timeless of all head ornaments. It really came into fashion at the turn of the century, from the Belle Epoque to the Art Deco period, when the bandeau was the most fashionable thing to wear on a night out in 1925 High Society Paris.
During a short space of time, fashion changed immensely, the voluminous dresses and hairstyles that were still fashionable in the late 19th century had been replaced by short haircuts and exotic dresses that emphasized the body. The simplicity of the bandeau was a perfect match for the modern style of the Art Deco period. In his book Cartier Jewelers Extraordinary, Hans Nadelhoffer referred to bandeau tiaras as ‘an ideal complement to bobbed hairstyles’.
Cartier were experts in creating head ornaments at the turn of the century, they famously created a bandeau tiara for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (illustrated left), that could be transformed into three bracelets. They were also the master craftsmen behind Queen Elisabeth of Belgium’s superb bandeau tiara (illustrated left).
Bandeau tiaras were often made in the fashion of multipurpose jewellery so they could easily be taken apart and turned into bracelets and brooches, just as lot 245 which can be worn as a choker, a brooch, or as a pair of bracelets; making this bandeau a timeless jewel which would suit any connoisseur’s collection.
Lot 175. Diamond ‘zip’ necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimate CHF 170,000 - CHF 270,000 (USD 170,000 - USD 270,000). Price realised CHF 237,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Circular-cut diamonds, platinum and gold (French marks), transformable for wear as a bracelet, necklace 40.5 cm, bracelet 17.3 cm, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, no. ML3781.
Literature: Cf. S. D. Coffin, Set in Style The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, London, Thames & Hudson, 2012, p. 36 for the photograph of a similar necklace
Cf. Van Cleef & Arpels Timeless Beauty, Paris, Éditions Xavier Barral, 2012, pp. 124-125 for photographs of a similar necklace and bracelet
Cf. E. Possémé, Van Cleef & Arpels, L'Art de la Haute Joaillerie, Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, 2012, pp.158 and 161 for photographs of a similar bracelet and necklace
Cf. S. Raulet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris, Éditions du Regard, 1986, p. 235 for the photograph of a similar necklace
Note: One of the most innovative jewels ever created, the Van Cleef & Arpels' Zip necklace is an iconic design. Legend has it that during the 1930s the Duchess of Windsor asked Renée Puissant, the creative director of the brand between 1926-1942, to create a jewelled zip fastener to wear with her evening gowns. Although the patent for the design was registered in 1938, it was not until 1951 that Van Cleef & Arpels presented the first Zip necklace.
The auction will also present an unusual turquoise and diamond Belle Époque brooch, circa 1910, acquired by Dame Nellie Melba at the peak of her career (estimate: CHF 250,000-350,000). In a long list of famous jewellery collectors, Dame Nellie Melba was one of the era's most prominent icons and a well-established client of Cartier. Helen Porter Mitchell, born in 1861 in Melbourne, decided from an early age that she would become a singer. After immigrating to Europe and studying in Paris under Mathilde Marchesi, who suggested that Nellie take the surname ‘Melba’ after her hometown, Dame Nellie Melba became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. She achieved international recognition as a classical musician and was honoured in the late 19th century by the Savoy Hotel’s French chef Auguste Escoffier with the creation of the Peach Melba .
Lot 187. Belle Époque turquoise and diamond brooch, circa 1910. Estimate 250,000 - CHF 350,000 (USD 250,000 - CHF 350,000). Unsold. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Cabochon turquoises, rose and old-cut diamonds, platinum and gold, 1910s, 16.0 cm, red Cartier case.
Provenance: Dame Nellie Melba GBE (1861-1931)
Thence by descent.
Leading the auction is a sensational Fancy Deep Blue Diamond ring of 7.03 carats mounted by Moussaieff (estimate: CHF10,000,000-14,000,000) and a superb diamond ring of 46.93 carats of the highest quality, D colour, Internally Flawless clarity (estimate: CHF3,800,000-4,500,000). The very best gemstones will be offered including a sensational Burmese sapphire pendant of 42.97 carats (estimate: CHF 2,000,000-3,000,000), an important pair of untreated Colombian emerald earrings of over 7.5 carats each (estimate: CHF 1,000,000-1,500,000) and a Burmese pigeon blood red ruby ring of 3.88 carats (estimate: CHF 400,000-600,000). An important pearl and diamond necklace of one hundred nineteen saltwater natural pearls will also be offered (estimate: CHF500,000-700,000).
Lot 246. Exceptional Fancy Deep Blue Diamond ring of 7.03 carats, Moussaieff. Estimate CHF 10,000,000 - CHF 14,000,000 (USD 10,000,000 - USD 14,000,000). Price realised CHF 11,625,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Fancy deep blue rectangular-cut diamond of 7.03 carats, pear-shaped diamonds, platinum, ring size 6 ¼, signed Moussaieff, brown Moussaieff case.
GIA, 2019, report no. 6203146718: 7.03 carats, Fancy Deep Blue colour, VVS2 clarity, type IIb.
Lot 250. Superb Cushion step-cut Diamond ring of 46.93 carats. Estimate CHF 3,800,000 - CHF 4,500,000 (USD 3,800,000 - USD 4,500,000). Price realised CHF 3,135,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Cushion step-cut diamond of 46.93 carats, half-moon modified brilliant-cut diamonds of 3.64 and 3.35 carats, platinum, ring size 7 ½.
GIA, 2019, report no. 10171255: 46.93 carats, D colour, Internally Flawless clarity, type IIa
GIA, 2019, report no. 10098840: 3.64 carats, D colour, VS2 clarity
GIA, 2019, report no. 10098837: 3.35 carats, D colour, VS2 clarity.
Lot 238. Sensational Burmese sapphire of 42.97 carats and diamond pendant. Estimate: CHF 2,000,000 - CHF 3,000,000 (USD 2,000,000 - USD 3,000,000). Price realised CHF 2,535,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Octagonal step-cut sapphire of 42.97 carats, triangular and circular-cut diamonds, 4.8 cm.
SSEF, 2019, report no. 108957: 42.975 carats, Burma (Myanmar), no indications of heating, royal blue, Appendix letter
Gübelin, 2019, report no. 19080020: 42.97 carats, Burma (Myanmar), no indications of heating, royal blue, Appendix letter.
Lot 171. Important pair of untreated Colombian emeraldof 7.69 and 7.50 carats and diamond earrings. Estimate: CHF 1,000,000 - CHF 1,500,000 (USD 1,000,000 - USD 1,500,000). Price realised CHF 1,071,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Octagonal step-cut emeralds of 7.69 and 7.50 carats, circular-cut diamonds, gold, 4.0 cm.
SSEF, 2019, reports nos. 107418 and 107419: 7.695 and 7.507 carats, Colombia, no clarity modification
AGL, 2019, reports nos. 8089199 and 8089203: 7.69 and 7.51 carats, Colombia, no clarity enhancement.
Lot 199. Burmese pigeon blood red ruby of 3.88 carats and diamond ring. Estimate CHF 400,000 - CHF 600,000 (USD 400,000 - USD 600,000). Price realised CHF 495,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Cushion-shaped ruby of 3.88 carats, pear and circular-cut diamonds, platinum and gold (French marks), ring size 5 ½.
Gübelin, 2019, report no. 19080107: 3.88 carats, Burma (Myanmar), no indications of heating, pigeon blood red
SSEF, 2019, report no. 108877: 3.879 carats, Burma (Myanmar), no indications of heating, pigeon blood red, Appendix letter.
Highlighting the auction are jewels by renowned jewellery designer Pierre Sterlé, considered to be emblematic of 1950s and 1960s jewellery. In 1934 Sterlé set up his own atelier, in the Place Vendôme, and was considered somewhat of a revolutionary: atypical, audacious and talented, receiving the prestigious De Beers' International Diamond Award three years in a row. Sterlé reinvented the art of manipulating precious metal, setting the gemstones in an elevated fashion reminiscent of the Baroque period; creating a sense of movement in supple and articulated mounts. He created mobile settings which enhanced the scintillation of the stones, varying their colour according to the light. His overruling ambition was to challenge the technical constraints of jewellery design, permitting him to translate the visions from his vivid imagination into jewels. He adored the effect of different colours of gold combined in one object and of varying textured surfaces. Leading pieces from the collection include a beautiful citrine and diamond necklace and ring set, (estimate: CHF40,000-60,000).
Lot 232. Citrine and diamond necklace and ring set, Sterlé. Estimate CHF 40,000 - CHF 60,000 (USD 40,000 - USD 60,000). Price realised CHF 68,750. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Oval-shaped citrines, old and single-cut diamonds, gold (French marks), 1950s, necklace 40.0 cm, ring size 5 ½, signed Sterlé Paris, nos. 3212 (necklace) and 9104 (ring).
Provenance: This necklace was photographed in a portrait of French actress Claude Nollier (1919-2009) in an edition of Vogue published in 1953.
Literature: Cf. V. Jutheau, Sterlé Joaillier Paris, Paris, Éditions Vecteurs, 1990, p. 53 for the photograph of an identical set.