Lot 1890
  • 1890

Gem-Set and Diamond 'Renée Fleming Iris' Brooch, Tamsen Z by Ann Ziff

620,000 - 780,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • colored stone, diamond, white gold
Modelled as a cultivar from iris named 'Renée Fleming Iris', the petals pavé-set with circular-cut amethysts and yellow sapphires, to a stem pavé-set with circular-cut tsavorite garnets, embellished by similarly-cut diamonds, the amethysts, tsavorite garnets, diamonds and yellow sapphires together weighing approximately 15.50, 8.10, 7.60 and 1.60 carats respectively, mounted in 18 karat white gold.


"Natural Beauties: Jewelry from Art Nouveau to Now" at the Shelburne Museum in 2014.

Catalogue Note


Nature, particularly the botanical world where beauty of chromatic flowers is manifold, has been a source of inspiration and expressed generously in jewellery since the 18th century during the Georgian period. With the discovery of the New World that came about in the mid-19th century and surging interests in the exotic flora from the unspoiled habitats in North America, European jewelers were experimenting with more three-dimensional and realistic portrayal of different flowers. It was at around the same time that North American painters extended their exploration to lush tropical forests in South America. By the end of the 19th century, this influence was heightened at the Paris Exposition of 1889 when the American firm of Charles Lewis Tiffany presented the famous group of twenty-five orchid brooches. With their naturalistic rendition, vibrant colours and flow of lines, these intricate masterpieces marked the beginning of floral motifs in jewels for the next decades to come, from the femme-fleur plique-a-jour enamels during Art Nouveau, to floral spray bouquets and basket of flowers in the 1950s.

As the history of flowers in fine jewellery develops and flourishes, certain species of flowers are now forever linked to world’s leading jewellery masters whenever we speak their names: orchids, camellia, daisy, lily of the valley, and rose de Noël just to name a few, many of which are symbols of feminine virtues and merits. Iris, with over hundreds of known varieties, symbolizes wisdom, hope, valour and purity. In jewellery, irises were often depicted as a single flower in profile, with a dominant blue or violet hue. Its delicate veins and petals with scalloping edges favour stylized curvilinear form underlining grace and femininity, seemingly pensive, but with a certain lightness to it. With this traditional formula as a backbone came this unique ‘Renée Fleming Iris’ brooch from Tamsen Z by Ann Ziff, which is bolder, more substantial and stunningly dramatic.

The creator of this arresting brooch, Ann Ziff, who is also the mastermind behind New York-based jewellery house Tamsen Z, is a self-taught jeweller who has a special gift to transform audacious mixes of colours and materials into unique pieces that are flamboyant and modern chic. This brooch is modelled after a charming cultivar of iris, created exclusively by hybridizer Heather Pryor in honour of Renée Fleming, and which has carried her name since 2004.

Arguably one of the most beloved and celebrated sopranos of our times, Renée Fleming was a recipient of both the National Medal of Arts and Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2013. She frequently graces the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, and is also actively involved in education, writing and charity endeavors. Her consummate artistry, grace and beauty has been an inspiration not only for this brooch, but also to prominent artists such as Chuck Close and Robert Wilson, whose portraits of her were included in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2007 fundraising auction. She was also honoured by a fragrance designed for her named La Voce by Renée Fleming, and the dessert ‘La Diva Renée’ created by Master Chef Daniel Boulud.

Renée Fleming is a true embodiment of what an iris flower signifies and it is with this admiration and respect that her friend, Ann Ziff, created this one-of-a-kind brooch. The powerful and sensual vocalism of Renée Fleming is lyrically painted in the flowing lines of its petals, with a striking contrast between violet and yellow. What differentiates this design from the others is also how the flower is tackled in its frontal perspective without compromising its spatial qualities. This larger-than-life brooch is more than a demonstration of the designer’s artistic prowess; it is also a fine botanical jewellery piece that is representative of its time.