NEW YORK – This winter in New York City was beyond brutal. The phrase ‘Polar Vortex’ was used daily and with each named storm the hopes of storing my winter boots and coats faded into the 4 PM sunsets. At first I thought it was my love of cool temperatures and hot chocolate that kept my winter blues at bay, but as the 29 April Magnificent Jewels catalogue was nearing completion it became clear to me that it was the fantastical collection of jeweled flowers and birds bringing vibrancy to the bleak gray days. While everyone was layering sweaters and fleeces and down coats, I was already hearing the spring sounds of chirping birds, buzzing bugs and gently swooshing breezes.
Lot by lot, I catalogued a jeweled flowerbox in the same manner a gardener meticulously plans and cultivates her plot. First, a row of Van Cleef & Arpels floral brooches including two retro designs centering clusters of ruby beads with billowing polished gold petals, and two ‘Rose de Noël’ brooches fashioned out of glistening turquoise and mother-of-pearl. To add bursts of color I turned to Oscar Heyman & Brothers, whose invisibly-set ruby flower brooch and fanciful ‘Pansy’ earclips use colored stones in cuts, shapes and arrangements that are as impossibly beautiful as their natural counterparts.
Invisibly-Set Ruby and Diamond Flower Brooch, Oscar Heyman & Brothers. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
An openwork pink tourmaline and diamond flower brooch, designed by Paulding Farnham circa 1900 for Tiffany & Co., is reminiscent of the famed stained glass South Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral when hit by the light.
An openwork pink tourmaline and diamond flower brooch, designed by Paulding Farnham, circa 1900 for Tiffany & Co. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
To frame my jeweled flowerbox I turned to Michele della Valle’s ‘Lily of the Valley’ necklace, with delicate bell-shaped blossoms suspended from meandering stems studded with tsavorite garnets. Earclips in the form of flowering cascades of strawberries, also designed by della Valle, added just the sweet touch I needed to round out my botanical blueprint.
Tsavorite Garnet and Diamond 'Lily of the Valley' Necklace, Michele della Valle. Estimate $35,000–45,000.
Once the jeweled garden of the Magnificent Jewels sale was complete with the sights and smells of the planted flowers and fruits, a swarm of sounds commenced. The songs of birds decorated in colored stones and diamonds, by makers such as Cartier and Michele della Valle, replaced the mechanical drones of the city. A ruby and diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels, the design reminiscent of the record-breaking ‘Walska Briolette Diamond’ Brooch sold by Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2013, swooped by with outstretched wings just to say hello.
Pair of Gold, Plantinum, Emerald and Diamond Brooches. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
Platinum, Diamond, Amethyst, Emerald and Onyx Jabot Pin, Janesich, France. Estiamte $15,000–20,000.
Now that April has arrived and the sun has once again emerged to prove its existence, the flowers of Central Park are starting to catch up with the jeweled versions that I have been cultivating all winter. Using materials found within the depths of nature to create splendid designs mirroring the flowers that rise just above the earth’s surface, skillful design houses prove that jewels can be used to produce visions as lifelike and fluid as those rendered by the stroke of a paintbrush. Although my jeweled oasis is just a portion of the upcoming New York sale, I do hope you will stop to smell the roses with me as I proudly introduce you to my newfound floral friends in our 29 April auction of Magnificent Jewels.