NEW YORK – Surrounded by Hollywood glamour from his birth in 1914, artist and trendsetter Tony Duquette was a man of many talents. A renowned costume, set, interior and jewellery designer, he remains an American icon nearly two decades after his 1999 death. This month, from 18–30 August, a number of his extravagant, jewelled works of art will head to the auction block in a Sotheby’s timed sale, Tony Duquette Jewellery Online. In addition to “visually striking,” Sotheby’s Jewels specialist Frank Everett describes the Duquette pieces chosen for the sale as “fantastic,” “dramatic,” “over-the-top,” and “perfect for summer.” With accessible price points, the collection is also great for new Duquette collectors. To discover more about this fascinating man and his many creative hats, read on.
(From Bottom Left Corner, Clockwise): 18 Karat Gold and Aquamarine Ring. Estimate $7,000–9,000. 18 Karat Gold, Smoky Quartz, Citrine and Diamond Ring. Estimate $15,000–25,000. 18 Karat White Gold, Cubic Zirconia and Diamond Ring. Estimate $6,000–8,000. 18 Karat Gold, Emerald and Diamond Ring. Estimate $7,000–9,000. 18 Karat Gold, Amethyst, Prasiolite and Cultured Pearl Ring. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
1. Duquette’s creations are fine "costume jewellery."
Everett loves that the pieces in this jewellery collection are made with materials like gold, amethyst, coral and aquamarine. “It gives you that big, bold, colourful costume jewellery look without actually being costume jewellery," he says. "I like costume jewellery, but I would prefer it to be long-lasting, hold its value, and really be made of quality materials like this."
2. Duquette’s interiors have a lot in common with his jewels.
When you look at Duquette’s interiors, you’ll notice that there are a few crossovers in materials and motifs. For one, says Everett, Duquette loved using malachite – for accessories, prints, wallpapers and more. “Malachite is extremely important in the Duquette palette and aesthetic,” says Everett.
Tony Duquette, 18 Karat Gold and Tourmaline Necklace. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
3. Duquette was crazy about coral.
In addition to malachite, coral was another extremely important material for Duquette. “In this sale, there’s a pair of button earrings with textured gold and coral," says Everett. "There’s also the big necklace with plaques of tiger’s eye mounted with branches of coral. Duquette was crazy about coral – he would sometimes spray paint branches red and add them to interiors so that they looked like branches of coral."
4. Duquette was extremely crafty.
He could be considered the original “repurposer” of materials long before television shows and books on repurposing materials and crafting were born. “Duquette famously tiled an entire ceiling in his house with plastic trays that he spray painted gold because they had the right texture and shape and colour,” Everett adds. A few pieces in the sale made from abalone highlight Duquette’s eye for unusual materials.
Tony Duquette, 18 Karat Gold, Silver, Tourmaline, Diamond, Cultured Pearl and Citrine Brooch. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
5. Duquette was obsessed with his dressed jewels
Much like his craftiness, Duquette’s sense of playfulness can be felt in his jewels. “My personal favourite brooch from this collection is the monkey king,” says Everett. “One of Duquette’s great obsessions was his dressed jewels. He loved to make papier-mâché dolls, dress them and bejewel them. The monkey king brooch is quite fabulous, very Venetian and very Duquette.”