Retro Glamour: 11 Jewels from the 1930s and 1940s

Launch Slideshow

Capturing the essence of the European society women and Hollywood stars who inspired them, Retro-period jewels are celebrated for brightly coloured stones, bold scale and playful design. Such pieces presented women with a whimsical style outlet during the depression and wartime years and later mirrored the joy that followed the end of Word War II. Retro jewels still hold their allure – 11 statement pieces from our sales in New York, London and Hong Kong reflect the spirit of the era.

Fine Jewels
1 December | London

Fine Jewels & Jadeite
2 December | Hong Kong

Magnificent Jewels
9 December | New York

Retro Glamour: 11 Jewels from the 1930s and 1940s

  • Retro diamond bracelet, Boucheron, circa 1940. Estimate: HK$480,000–650,000 (US$62,000–84,000).
    Boucheron’s work spanned multiple design eras, and this retro diamond bracelet captures the spirit of the time with the elaborate use of large diamonds, voluminous curves and carefully thought-out clasp detail, a true expression of Boucheron’s savoir-faire and extravagance.

  • 18 karat two-colour gold and sapphire “Wrapped Heart” brooch, Verdura. Estimate: US$25,000–35,000.
    Bold jewels with a touch of whimsy reigned supreme in the post-war years. In the 1940s Joan Crawford was spotted wearing a heart-shaped Verdura design , and the rest of Hollywood’s elite quickly fell in love with the romantic motifs.

  • Platinum, ruby and diamond bracelet, circa 1940. Estimate: US$50,000–70,000.
    During the 1940s, the linear forms of the Art Deco era transformed into new, curvaceous designs. Swirled creations such as this one featuring a variety of colored stones were highly popular during this time. 

  • 18 karat gold, platinum, citrine and diamond clip-brooch, Cartier, London, circa 1945. Estimate: US$30,000–40,000.
    During the 1940s, designers such as Cartier used stones previously overlooked such as citrines, aquamarines and amethysts. The most popular designs of the time combined various hues to create unique, one-of-a-kind jewels. 

  • 22 karat gold, platinum, cabochon sapphire, ruby, emerald and diamond “Royal Orb” clip-brooch, Cartier, New York, 1943. Estimate: US$5,000–7,000.
    Customised jewels were widely popular in the post war years. This ‘Royal Orb’ design was one of a dozen English emblems that Cartier created for the Duke of Windsor, who commissioned the pieces to be used as gifts.

  • Lady’s gold and ruby wristwatch, “Cadenas,” Van Cleef &Arpels, 1940s. Estimate: £3,000–4,000.
    How can there be a more stylish way to tell time? Look no further than this iconic ‘Cadenas’ design by Van Cleef & Arpels. You will never be late again!

  • 18 karat gold, silver and coloured stone cigarette case, France, 1940. Estimate: US$5,000–7,000.
    The 1940s saw an increased amount of decorative boxes and compacts, often created or engraved to distinguish its owner. Set with coloured stones marking important international cities, it is possible the present design was created to follow the travels of its original owner.

  • 18 karat gold “bells” necklace, France, late 1930s. Estimate: US$40,000–60,000.
    Jewellery made after World War II often reflects the joy and celebrations that followed the end of the war. The present scarf-style design supports small gold bells, which make pleasant sounds when activated by the wearer.

  • Enamel, ruby and diamond compact, Bulgari, circa 1945. Estimate: £2,500–3,500.
    This chic compact would look stunning with any evening attire. The bold combination of blue and red works splendidly to highlight the floral motifs.

  • 18 karat gold and diamond ring, Mellerio dits Meller, circa 1940. Estimate: US$6,000–8,000.
    Jewels of the 1940s reached volumes unseen in previous decades. This openwork cocktail ring by Mellerio dits Meller also resembles tubogas, or gas pipe links, were highly popular in retro designs.

  • Amethyst and peridot brooch/pendant, “Ananas,” René Boivin, 1945. Estimate: £20,000–25,000.
    Boivin’s flair for design and use of semi-precious gems is encapsulated in this stunning creation .


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