NEW YORK – There are certain moments of time within the history of Van Cleef & Arpels that serve as crucial markers of the design firms’ greater evolution of style. Similar to collectors of paintings and sculptures, those who collect jewellery seek out the ability to acquire treasures formed within these stylistic stepping stones, as they communicate pivotal visual changes spurred by a variety of influences. 1937, the year of the International Exposition of the Arts and Technology of Modern Living in Paris, serves as such a stepping stone for Van Cleef & Arpels. The jewels on display during the 1937 Exposition mark a time when the stark geometry of the Art Deco started to give way to the curves of the Retro period, and the bright diamond-encrusted pieces of the early 1930s started to incorporate vivid flashes of colour. Lot 470 from the 24-25 September Important Jewels sale in New York is a prime example of this sensational time in jewellery design.
THIS BEAUTIFUL VAN CLEEF & ARPELS SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND BROOCH WILL BE OFFERED IN SOTHEBY'S NEW YORK IMPORTANT JEWELS ON 24-25 SEPTEMBER 2015.
Taking a wing-like form resembling a stylized bow, lot 470 resembles the jewels on display from Van Cleef & Arpels during the 1937 Exposition in Paris. The design looks back to the Art Deco era with its clean, distinct rows while foreshadowing the affinity for curved pieces during the 1940s. Clips and double clip-brooches were still highly popular at this time, as were jewels that were transformative in nature. The unique shape of the present brooch is what makes it transformative as it begs to be worn horizontally or vertically, from the top of a gown, to the top of a hat. The design illustrates a variation of the celebrated Mystery-Set technique, perfected in the early 1930s, with the sapphires sitting within delicately-crafted mountings allowing minimum metal and maximum light to be viewed.
LOT 491, FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARLENE DIETRICH, SOLD BY SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK IN 1992.
Jewels similar in style to lot 470, crafted during this specific moment in Van Cleef & Arpels’ repertoire, were collected by the most glamorous style icons of the time. A ruby and diamond Jarretière bracelet, favoured by Marlene Dietrich, sold by Sotheby’s New York in October 1992, features rubies and diamonds in a striking swirled motif; similar to lot 470, the bracelet juxtaposes curved and linear motifs. The celebrated collection of the Duchess of Windsor, sold by Sotheby’s Geneva in April 1987, showcased numerous Van Cleef & Arpels jewels made during this time.
LOT 70, KNOWN AS THE “MARRIAGE CONTRACT” BRACELET, SOLD DURING THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR SALE AT SOTHEBY’S GENEVA IN 1987.
A sapphire-set Jarretière bracelet, a wedding gift from the Duke of Windsor to his new bride, was worn by the Duchess on their wedding day and is featured in several Cecil Beaton portraits. Other Van Cleef & Arpels jewels from the Windsor collection created during this time showcase similar techniques and styles, featuring alternating panels of rubies and diamonds.
LOT 88 SOLD DURING THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR SALE AT SOTHEBY’S GENEVA IN 1987.
The late 1930s was an exceptionally unique time for jewelers seeking inspiration. While Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers warmed the screen in Shall We Dance, Europe cooled as World War II loomed ahead. This dichotomy also existed within the 1937 Exposition itself, as Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, portraying the gruesome atrocities of war, was displayed just a short distance from the pavilions representing the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The conflicting themes and feelings during this specific time in history are present in these Van Cleef & Arpels designs, as rigid and fluid gem-set panels sync together to form a cohesive jewel. Lot 470 from the upcoming Important Jewels sale is from the Estate of Dolores Sherwood Bosshard, a glamorous beauty well-known in Monte Carlo during the 1960s. In addition to the VCA brooch, the Estate of Dolores Sherwood Bosshard features stunning diamond-set clusters by Harry Winston and polished gold swirls by Sterlé. The eclectic nature of the jewels from the Bosshard Estate illustrate that Van Cleef & Arpels designs from the late 1930s are as specific as they are timeless, their varied forms presenting the perfect palette to combine with other pieces in your collection.