T he 20 October Important Jewels sale is led by an array of exceptional antique, vintage and contemporary signed jewels, together with a curated group of important diamonds, rare and exquisite colored diamonds and captivating colored stones. The sale is led by a pair of breathtaking and rare D color, Internally Flawless, Type IIa pear-shaped diamond earrings, each over 5.00 carats. The Important Jewels sale this season offers discerning collectors a thrilling selection of colored gems from both classic and contemporary sources. Untreated Padparadscha, pink and blue sapphires are notably well represented, including a rare example from the famed Kashmir region. Lot 169, which is of famed Classic Kashmir origin, received the highest accolade a sapphire can receive in its ‘Royal Blue’ classification. The captivating stone is faceted in the preferred cushion form to best capture the revered “velvet” blue hues and mounted in an elegant 1940s Tiffany & Co. setting. Unheated rubies of fine quality and size are exceedingly scarce to say the least. Burma (Myanmar) produces the most prized of these gems and the 14.58- carat oval-cut in lot 179 hails from that locale. Rarest and most coveted of all are those that achieve the legendary “pigeon’s blood” coloration, an intense and incredibly specific crimson red hue. Lot 200, of Mozambican origin, and lot 234, of Burmese origin are both intensely and vibrantly colored, so much that they received the ‘pigeon’s blood’ classification. The sale also presents a variety of highly covetable pieces from Cartier’s and Tiffany & Co’s Art Deco period, dazzling and wearable pieces by revered Bond Street jeweler Graff, and not one, but two marvelous and versatile ‘Zip’ necklaces, among the most iconic designs in the history of jewelry from the famed French jewelry house, Van Cleef & Arpels.
The Zip necklace is a marvel of skill and ingenuity, standing among the most iconic designs in the history of jewelry. Beginning in the 1930s, with the creation of the Ludo bracelet, Van Cleef & Arpels pushed the boundaries of the goldsmith’s art, acting as couturiers to devise jewels as supple as silk. By the 1940s, textile motifs poured forth from their workshops in the form of tassels, “lace” bows, ribbons, pompoms and wirework tulle. The culmination and magnum opus of this period of sartorial exploration was, of course, the Zip.
The idea for the Zip is said to have originated with the Duchess of Windsor who, upon seeing zippers incorporated into clothing by Elsa Schiaparelli, asked Van Cleef’s creative director, Renée Puissant, to follow suit. With this, an eminently practical mechanism was transformed into a spectacular jewel, but only after 12 years of trial and error. The great irony stemming from the Zips’ long journey from conception to completion (1938-1950) is that the Duchess never in fact owned one herself, perhaps due to the pleasant distraction provided by the many other extraordinary, one-of-a-kind jewels she regularly added to her collection.
Each Zip is emblematic of technical virtuosity and clear-minded exertion. As a result, only a limited number of them were made in the 1950s. Van Cleef & Arpels re-introduced the Zip in 2005, incorporating a greater variety of materials and adding fanciful twists to the original design. The process today is no less labor-intensive: the sapphire example worn by Margot Robbie at the 2015 Academy Awards was reported to have taken 600 hours to make. In the similarly designed piece offered here (Lot 120), the traditional zip of yellow gold with a foxtail fringe tassel is conceived in white gold with lapis lazuli, pink tourmalines and cultured pearls. Like the original Zip, it may be converted into a bracelet, the ultimate in versatility. Lot 168 affords a different kind of versatility, its attenuated form allowing for the links to be zipped to a great many levels with the additional benefit of the option to wear it in reverse, down the back. Both jewels exemplify the enduring legacy of great designs by Van Cleef & Arpels.