A pink sapphire like Eugenie’s, a necklace like Grace Kelly’s dazzle at Adam’s
Original versions of Van Cleef & Arpels 1968 four leaf clover necklace among top lots
Gold and coral Alhambra necklace by Van Cleef and Arpe
A cluster of stars from the Hollywood firmament feature in the catalogue for Adam’s Fine Jewellery & Watches auction on December 4th.
The designers of many of the pieces in this sale come recommended by the world’s most glamorous men and women. Fans of the Mouawad brand include Amy Adams, Tina Fey and Christina Aguilera.
Coco Chanel, Katharine Hepburn and Andy Warhol were among the famous names who signed up to the client list of Seaman Schepps, while the work of Harry Winston – as worn by Helen Mirren, Amal Clooney and Jennifer Lopez – lights up red carpets on both sides of the Atlantic on a regular basis.
An unusual motif amid this glittering company is the modest four-leaf clover. This little plant is supposed to bring luck and good fortune which is why, 50 years ago this year, the French jewellery company Van Cleef and Arpels incorporated its simple leaf-form into a sautoir necklace which they named the Alhambra.
One early patron of this long, graceful, light-as-a-feather style of necklace was Grace Kelly, whose “everyday” jewellery box contained three Alhambra sautoirs; one in malachite, one in tortoiseshell and one in coral.
The design is still in production today; but two examples from the highly prized original 1968 collection are for sale at Adam’s, both from the private collection of a continental owner.
Lot 56 (€10,000–€15,000) is a gold and ivory Alhambra sautoir made up of 20 quatrefoil-shaped ivory links within beaded gold frames, connected by a hammered trace-link chain. Lot 54 (€10,000–€15,000) is a gold and coral sautoir necklace – just like Grace Kelly’s.
It should be noted that ivory and coral are subject to CITES regulations when exported outside of the European Union, and US Fish and Wildlife regulations if imported into the US.
Back in the 1930s, the designer Seaman Schepps took the US jewellery market by storm. A living embodiment of the American dream, Schepps grew up in tenements on New York’s Lower East Side. His pioneering designs came to be seen as defining a new generation of American women.
Lot 124 (€6,000–€8,000) is a “multi–baroque” necklace set with cultured pearls and a rainbow array of gemstones including chalcedony, citrine, amethyst, tourmaline and rock crystal. It can also be worn as two shorter necklaces.
Lot 121 (€5,000–€7,000) is a spectacular seahorse brooch in which, as the Adam’s catalogue rightly observes, Schepps has captured a sense of the animal’s “silent floating passage”, its body a gentle curve of circular and oval-shaped aquamarines, its scales and face picked out in blue chalcedony cabochons and round brilliant-cut diamonds.
The many colours and textures which occur in chalcedony have inspired generations of jewellers, and the gemstone is used to exquisitely delicate effect in a blue chalcedony and diamond necklace by the contemporary Italian goldsmith Margherita Burgener (Lot 171, €8,000–€10,000). Measuring 49.5 centimetres, it’s composed of 28 beads interspersed with round brilliant-cut diamond links, with a tiny, perfectly executed diamond clasp.
Serious 1920s style, meanwhile, comes in the form of an art deco onyx and diamond bracelet (Lot 34, €4,500–€5,500). A border of old brilliant-cut diamonds surrounds a line of black onyx stones, their dark glow framed and magnified by another row of tiny diamonds worked into a millegrain setting.
Also in the flexible, and beautifully detailed, bracelet category is a diamond and sapphire piece by Mouawad (Lot 172, €10,000–€15,000) designed as a series of fan-shaped links. Each individual link has five brilliant-cut diamond panels flanked at either end by a collet-set diamond, and surmounted by a crown of baguette-cut sapphires.
Like Seaman Schepps, the designer Harry Winston also came from humble origins. His Ukrainian parents set up a jewellery business in New York; as a boy, young Harry famously spotted a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop, bought the stone for 25 cents and sold it on for $800.
It was the start of a celebrated career during which he would be nicknamed “The King of Diamonds” and “The Jeweller to the Stars”.
The gift of a pair of Winston’s diamond pendent earclips would turn anybody’s Christmas into a right royal occasion, and Lot 146 (€6,000–€8,000) is a superb example. Each earring is designed as a floral spray, with a pear–shaped diamond drop suspended beneath.
For a Victorian take on the same theme, Lot 17 (€3,000–€4,000) offers a scrolling openwork floral motif set with old brilliant and cushion-cut diamonds, while an early 20th–century version (Lot 25 €3,000–€4,000) is in the form of concentric circles of collet-cut diamonds. And for anyone who admired Princess Eugenie’s Padparadscha pink sapphire engagement ring, Lot 200 is a 2 carat version estimated at €4,000–€5,000.
There’s no shortage of gift ideas in this sale, from its large helping of Chopard and Cartier – which includes rings, bracelets and both ladies’ and gents’ watches – to a set of three tiepins, Lot 31, priced at a modest €500–€700.
Oh, and if you’re on the lookout for a tiara, check out Lot 22. It’s Edwardian, it’s priced at €12,000–€15,000, and if you don’t have a tiara occasion in your diary for the festive season, it looks even better worn as a necklace.