A December 1928 Vogue article titled Fashion: A Jewels Song From Paris exclaimed that, ‘A woman of a clearly exotic type may exaggerate the number, the richness, and the originality of her jewels. Another, whose profile is classic, will wear only diamonds mounted with simple severity.’ At the time that this sautoir was created by Cartier London, the colorful, Eastern-inspired jewels of the 1920s were giving way to the bold, exclusively diamond-encrusted pieces of the 1930s.
As this was a period when it was the changing fashions and roles of women that dictated changing trends and tastes, it is important to consider the woman who would have worn this piece. Her independence is illustrated by the bold and rare choice of aquamarine, and the ease with which the piece may be worn; the symmetrical design of the pendant and the flexible cord from which it hangs suggests the owner donned the columnar fashions of the day, the pendant designed to move freely while enjoying the new sounds of jazz; the diamond-set clasp suggests she likely had the fashionable bob-style haircut of the day, allowing observers to get a last bit of sparkle as they took a second look. It is also possible, due to the unique stone choice and design of the sautoir, that this was specially commissioned to adorn a particular frock, perhaps a custom creation by Coco Chanel.
Aquamarine jewels by Cartier are especially rare, and only a few known examples in the Cartier Collection exist. The present lot joins those designs created for the coronation of King George VI and for Elsie de Wolfe in illustrating the design firm’s strength in using the ocean-hued stone to create striking jewels, perfect in balance and symmetry.
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