GENEVA - This spring, our Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale will bring to light beautiful examples of 1920s and 1930s jewellery pieces. The Art Deco period will be honoured in this auction with several beautiful works by Cartier and other jewellers, some with exceptional provenance.
One striking and mesmerizing 1920s piece is the delicate gem-set vanity case by Cartier dated 1925. Descended from the boîte-à-rouge-et-à-mouches, created under the reign of Louis XV, King of France, the vanity case or nécessaire appeared in the 1920s in respond to a change in women’s roles in society. The First World War denoted emancipation for women and it became acceptable not only to wear cosmetics, but also to apply them in public. Jewellery houses jumped into the business. As Louis Cartier said, “We must make it our business to build up an inventory that responds to the moral mood of the public by producing articles which have a useful function but which are also decorated in the Cartier style.” The example presented in this sale combines the very finest elements of Cartier’s production in this period with mother-of-pearl inlay, enamel wave motifs, japonisant coral flowers, opening to reveal a foldout mirror, a lipstick holder, cigarette and powder compartments. Cartier retains the original sketch of this vanity in its archives.
Superb gem set vanity case, Cartier, 1925. Estimate CHF 110,000–160,000.
Several other fine examples of Cartier jewels from this period may be found in the Geneva auction. The below examples, each with noble provenance, illustrate the exceptional craftsmanship and exquisite compositions of the renowned jewellery house. This pair of beautiful clips was formerly in the collection of Lydia, Lady Deterding. The combination of carved coloured gemstones helped to make the Cartier ‘tutti frutti’ design so highly sought after.
Pair of fine gem set and diamond clips, Cartier, circa 1930. Estimate CHF 69,000–98,000.
This highly articulated diamond bracelet, belonging to a European Noble Family, illustrates how carefully each piece was conceived. The clasp is very representative of the geometric design of the 1930s.
Diamond bracelet, Cartier, circa 1930. Estimate CHF 32,000–42,000.
This geometric pattern, combined with diamonds and exemplary grey and brown pearls, is also featured in two lots from the estate of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe. These jewels were ordered at Cartier, most likely for the Duchess’ wedding in 1935. She already had a delicate natural pearl and diamond necklace from the 1920s and it was brought to Cartier in the 1930s to be insured and to realise the similarly-set brooch and the earrings. A box with the monogram and coronet of the Duchess was produced by Cartier for these three items.
(Left) Pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings, Cartier, circa 1935. Estimate CHF 39,000–69,000. (Right) Natural pearl and diamond double clip brooch, Cartier, circa 1935. Estimate CHF 49,000–69,000.
Fine natural pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1920. Estimate CHF 245,000–345,000.
Speaking of the Duchess of Roxburghe and Cartier, it is impossible not to mention the below diamond tiara. It perfectly illustrates the tastes of this era, the association of geometric design, diamonds mounted in platinum, the most important stones on top, and the quality of Cartier.
Important diamond tiara, Cartier, 1930s. Estimate CHF 295,000–485,000.
Circa 1925, jewellery designers took inspiration from hinges and locks realised by Gothic and Renaissance craftsmen; the motifs were borrowed from doorknockers. An example of this influence can be found in a jadeite brooch, also called ‘Stirrup’, by Cartier, and a diamond clip from the 1930s, unsigned, but which can be compared to works by René Boivin, Cartier or other jewellers from this same period.
Jadeite, ruby, lacquer and diamond clip, ‘Stirrup’, Cartier, circa 1925. Estimate CHF 11,000 – 21,000.
Diamond clip, 1930s. Estimate CHF 10,000 – 15,000.
Of course the 1920s and 1930s were a fabulous moment of creation, inspiration and innovation for many jewellery houses. This spectacular bangle bracelet by Boucheron, from a European Imperial Royal Family, shows a geometric design coupled with an innovative new type of mounting, the calibré-cut rubies set next to one another without revealing the mounting. This technique was developed and perfected by Van Cleef & Arpels, and called serti mystérieux by the house in 1933.
Important ruby and diamond bangle-bracelet, Boucheron, circa 1935. Estimate CHF 390,000 – 680,000.