T hroughout history, animals have been a constant source of inspiration in decorative arts of all cultures. Ancient Greeks incorporated snakes into their jewellery, ancient Egyptians created amulets with the scarab symbol, and throughout the known world animals and mythical creatures have appeared prominently in sacred adornments. The allure of the wild is transcendent as it mirrors our idealised selves, gesturing toward a return to nature. The virtues embodied by beasts are imagined as uncorrupted and purer than those of civilised men.
This fascination and reverence of natural history gave rise to the menagerie, which in an ironic twist reflected more of human nature than animal. As an establishment of luxury and curiosity, and a symbol of wealth and power, menageries would boast collections of wild and exotic animals. Historical menageries were the convergence of courtly decorum and unrestricted wilderness. In the 8th century Emperor Charlemagne had three menageries spread throughout Europe, and throughout subsequent centuries, more notable menageries would arise, such as in the Palace of Versailles and the Tower Menagerie in London. The Villa Borghese of Rome is a modern relic of those times as it was formerly a menagerie built in 1908 and is now the home to more than 200 species of animals.
Historical menageries represented the convergence of courtly decorum and unrestricted wilderness, and this brilliant menagerie of bejeweled beasts immortalises our fascination with animals. Through time, jewellery designers have drawn inspiration from nature for pieces of jewellery that coincide with the spirit of their times. From the unique and colourful array of fish-based jewellery that is motivated by the fishing frenzy of the 1920s and 1930s, to bird-based jewellery symbolising the hope for a liberated France through World War II, these bejewelled animals are embodiments of the dreams and desires of an epoch. Like the menageries of the past, this collection boasts many beautiful bejewelled beasts in order to create a most brilliant menagerie.
Bulgari | A Group of Gem Set, Cultured Pearl and Diamond Jewellery
In 1934, the Bvlgari logo was first used in Rome’s Via Condotti. To honour its Roman legacy, the “u” was substituted with a “v” as was used in Latin script. In this set, the vibrant femininity of the Diva’s Dream alongside the powerfully seductive Serpenti create this luxurious Roman collection. The pieces from this set are unmistakably Bvlgari in style. In Diva’s Dream, we see the use of colour in its design and the integration of fan-shaped motifs reminiscent of the flamboyant mosaics of Roman baths. In this piece, Bvlgari’s Roman heritage is characterised through a gentle mix of skill and colour.
Yet, an even more fitting metaphor for Rome—a city with deep roots in antiquity that continues to shed its skin and renew itself through the generations—is the serpent. Rome’s ability to adapt, like the serpent, makes its art, architecture, and attitude a never-ending source of inspiration for Bvlgari. A classic design that is as lovely as it is fascinating, filled with colour and vibrance, and completed by exceptional craftsmanship; Serpenti continues to dazzle, inspire, and adapt—somehow always growing alongside whoever wears it.
The House of Boivin, founded in the 1890s, is a jewellery manufacturer known for its unique and eccentric pieces. Trained as a goldsmith and engraver, the eccentric Rene Boivin would often use unorthodox materials to created stunning masterpieces, and he refused to work with Art Nouveau, the conventional style of jewellery in the late 1890s to early 1910s. Instead, he created eye-catching pieces inspired by nature as well as Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.
The two pieces here are animal subjects that are not commonly seen in jewellery. The pug is captured in a moment of playfulness with a curve in its tail, bringing a lively energy to this piece. The delicate enamel colouring gives the illusion of soft fur, whilst the contrasting colour and texture of the bright jewels allow the collar and grass to stand out from the dog’s body. Meanwhile, the Siamese cat has enamelwork that emulates the look of fur but its posture radiates the elegance one associates with felines. The cat sits propped up high on its front paws as it observes the surroundings with a narrow-eyed gaze. Both jewels appear in page 300 of the book, René Boivin Joaillier by Françoise Cailles and is also accompanied by certificates from Françoise Cailles.
In 1937, to celebrate Disney’s first full-length film, Cartier created the limited-edition gold and enamel charm bracelet for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". This fun and innovative bracelet was worn by Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian, at the film’s premiere and has since inspired others to collect Disney jewellery. Later, in 1940, Cartier similarly created a charm bracelet celebrating Disney’s second feature film, "Pinocchio". Both Disney–Cartier charm bracelets hold historical and aesthetic significance, representing stories that have from the mid-20th century shaped many a childhood with wonder and fantasy. In recent auctions, both pieces were highly contended by bidders.
There is no Disney character more iconic or preeminent that its quintessential mascot: Mickey Mouse. Like the celebration of the first and second Disney films, Cartier also produced a series of charms of Disney’s most beloved characters. This unique and collectible set of eight charms (including Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy) represented Walt Disney’s desire to inspire creativity and entertain people around the world.
- 8014Type: lotCategory: LotRubellite, Sapphire and Diamond Brooch | 碧璽 配 藍寶石 及鑽石 胸針rubellite, sapphire and diamond brooch | 碧璽 配 藍寶石 及鑽石 胸針5 August 2021 | Sale price: 126,000 HKDEstimate: 60,000 – 110,000 HKD5 August 2021 | Sale price: 126,000 HKDSummer Jewels: A Brilliant Menagerie22 July–5 August 2021 | 11:00 AM HKT | Hong Kong
- 8025Type: lotCategory: LotColoured Diamond and Diamond Pendant | 鑽石吊墜coloured diamond and diamond pendant | 鑽石吊墜5 August 2021 | Sale price: 63,000 HKDEstimate: 45,000 – 85,000 HKD5 August 2021 | Sale price: 63,000 HKDSummer Jewels: A Brilliant Menagerie22 July–5 August 2021 | 11:00 AM HKT | Hong Kong
“Art is continually haunted by the animal.”
In 2010, Chopard created 150 pieces of unique jewellery to commemorate its 150th anniversary. The Animal World collection was the brainchild of Chopard Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele, featuring a whimsical selection of creatures, from the common to the imaginary. In the process of bringing this bestiary to life, Scheufele explored many avenues to create remarkable pieces that were original and aesthetically pleasing.
Featuring household pets like cats, exotic animals such as birds of paradise, and even mythical beasts like the dragon, this extraordinary anniversary collection attests to Chopard’s genius. Within the anniversary collection, there are fifteen watches of unique and original design; two of which are featured in this sale, including the diamond and sapphire Owl watch and the diamond and enamel Happy Sport Turtle watch. These incredible pieces will surely bring colour to each day.