Property of a Noble Family
Diamond bracelet, circa 1915
September 19, 03:39 PM GMT
40,000 - 60,000 GBP
Of floral petit point design set with single-, rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds, backed by moiré ribbon, signed Lacloche Frères, French assay marks, numbered.
A similar example exists at the Albion Art Jewellery Institute, Tokoyo, Japan.
Designed to replicate the minute and beautiful stitches of ‘petit point’, this bracelet is an exceptional and extremely rare example of Lacloche Frères’ technical prowess. This piece represents one of the firm’s most renowned and sought after designs.
Jewels of the early 20th century were synonymous with lightness and delicacy made possible through the use of platinum, a relatively new material to jewellery workshops. It was during the turn of the century that we begin to see widespread use of this strong and rigid metal, creating jewels in the ‘garland style’ depicting ribbons, bows, and entrelac-de-rubans, signature motifs of the Belle Epoque. Platinum, had occasionally been used in the 19th century, however, heavier silver and gold settings were favoured. It is the characteristics of platinum, strong, malleable and ductile, that allowed jewellers at Lacloche to meticulously execute the intricate design of this bracelet by fretting the metal using a piercing saw, creating the delicate ‘embroidered’ petit point floral design. The piece is further enhanced with diamonds which appear effortlessly unconstrained due to the lightness of the metal. To Lacloche platinum was merely a canvas.
Some 1300 miles away in Saint Petersburg, master craftsmen in the workshop of Carl Fabergé were also employing the petit point decoration. Here it was incorporated into the design of the ‘Mosaic Egg’, in a bid to impress the Tsar who expected each years imperial egg to be more elaborate than the one commissioned the previous year. Legend has it that Alma Theresia Pihl, niece of the head of creation at Fabergé Albert Holmström, conceived the idea one evening whilst whiling away time watching her mother-in-law embroider. Inspiration struck and the workshop attempted to imitate each minute stitch into metal and gemstones, giving birth to the Mosaic Egg. It was in 1913 that this technique was first seen in a finished diamond brooch by Fabergé which more closely resembles the bracelet seen here. In 1917 Lacloche purchased the remaining stock and design drawings of Fabergé’s London store after the Russian government repatriated the maisons assets, thus inextricably linking these two titans of jewellery design. This perhaps provides the foundation on how the petit point technique was shared between the two houses.
Although this needlework style was employed by other jewellery houses, it was very much the craftsmen at Lacloche Frères who strove to push the boundaries of this design technique, as we see here with petit point giving rise to the illusion of embroidered roses executed with startling realism and backed with black moiré ribbon to create contrast.
Petit point was held in such high esteem at Lacloche that is was used in various iterations of jewellery over several years, even cropping up a decade later as an accent on accessories such as purses or cigarette boxes. Testament to the achievement of this design technique, it was used to represent and market the firm in an advert published in La Renaissance de l’art francais et des industries de luxe and le Fiargo artistique. Emblazoned at the top of the advertisement is a diamond bracelet with an embroidered rose design, strikingly similar to the piece offered here. In 1925, Lacloche chose to exhibit another similar bracelet at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, further underlining that the importance of this design.