T welve gifts from lovers to lovers. Twelve operatic jewels from those who adore the Opéra and offered to those who share their adoration. For the first time, a quintessential selection of donations of fine and high jewelry is auctioned with one mission: to boost the Opéra Garnier’s drive to make high culture everyone’s culture.
The opera isn’t for the faint-hearted and neither is the jewelry that accompanies it. But, make no mistake, these jewels are also statements in total, contemporary wearability and this collection – sold as part of Sotheby's Opéra de Paris: Auction for Action, Bid for Creation – has been conceived to suit every age, every style and every budget.
Each jewel has been carefully chosen and every design is an essential component of the modern opera-goer look. There are the pearls and the tiara. The cocktail ring and the brooch. The gold chain and the démi-parures. All bases are covered in this ultimate edit for collectors new and seasoned alike.
Unmissable evening looks are represented by a spectacular cocktail ring featuring thirteen diamonds in myriad cuts by DeBeers as well as another cocktail ring, from Morelle Davidson, that evokes Palais Garnier’s Baroque Revival hues with diamonds, rubies and a black South Sea pearl.
Pearls – of course, so important to the ballet – are also present in Tasaki’s magnificent 139 Akoya pearl necklace – opera length, bien sûr – and Chaumet’s no-less-than-iconic pearl and diamond necklace, a must have for all Empress Joséphine fans.
The obligatory tiara, gifted by Bentley & Skinner, comes with provenance like no other: owned by both Queen Victoria and Irina Baranova, Balanchine’s baby ballerina. The fact that its strass shines bright like high diamonds will be a great plus for cost-conscious lovers of legend and drama.
In true operatic style, hearts are a powerful theme and in timeless yellow gold, a rock’n’roll heart chain necklace donated by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons will elevate a little black dress.
A broken heart in white gold, enamel and set with spinels, is dramatically re-imagined in the form of earrings and a bracelet by Chinese supernova Feng J (whose work features in the permanent collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs). Remarkably, the cuff is custom-made for this initiative, adding further excitement to Auction For Action.
Enamel also comes in a deeply electric shade of blue, matched with yellow gold, in a half-set of earrings and pendants from celebrated Italian maison Buccellati’s aptly called Opera collection. Indeed, no detail is left to chance when choosing jewelry for Garnier.
Yellow gold and all things gilded speak of the opera and the ballet like no other but here we have a thoroughly modern interpretation. The powerful 1964 ‘Sunburst’ brooch by Andrew Grima brings the era of Louis XIV, the Sun King to life for the present day (it is no surprise that Grima is collected by the British Royal family as well as by Miuccia Prada).
Meanwhile, Alexandra Jefford’s genderless gold piece – a contemporary take on a timeless metal – can double up as a signet ring for the new generation.
To complete this spectacular edit are two pieces of wearable, French art that no collector can ignore. The Entrelacs bracelet by Claude Lalanne, one of the most iconic pieces in the Lalannes' production, brings gilded romanticism to 2023 and would look fabulous paired with a velvet Schiaparelli gown.
Another highly collectible piece of wearable art is the Les Yeux Du Rêve, a necklace made in gold, diamonds and sapphires by Ateliers Hugo after Jean Cocteau’s unmistakable design.
And so this sale sees twelve jewels bringing together the legend, drama and the infinite elegance of the Opera. From designers, jewelers, dealers and collectors who adore the Opéra de Paris, we find twelve timeless donations to be worn to, for and at the opera. This is your chance to help make history – and to look amazing at it.