In Review

Treasure trove: Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s

A groundbreaking collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces goes under the hammer this month

Expected to fetch in excess of $30,000,000 across 180 pieces, a host of treasures spanning art and design derived from a significant European collection will be auctioned by Christie’s across a number of locations in November. Some of the most covetable, though, are among the wide-ranging assortment of precious jewellery being sold in Geneva on 13 November.

This Magnificent Jewels sale will showcase 110 examples of fine jewellery from two disparate artistic periods – Art Nouveau and Art Deco – brought together under the discerning eye of the couple who built up this impressive collection.

Art Nouveau flourished for only a brief period at the turn of the 20th century, yet ushered in not only a distinct aesthetic, defined by its ornate, free-flowing forms and nods to nature, but innovations in materials and techniques. Nowhere was this of more importance than in the realm of the decorative arts, with Rene Lalique one of the period’s undisputed masters. Particularly renowned for his glass and enamel work, Lalique excelled in the production of jewellery, working for renowned maisons such as Cartier and Boucheron before creating pieces under his own name.

This sale provides the opportunity to acquire several examples of his work. Highlights include an exquisitely detailed pendant (lot 45, estimate $90,069 – $130,100), featuring a swarm of enamel wasps – a recurring motif in Lalique’s work – clustered above a suspended pearl. Another of his regular themes is ‘The Kiss’, depicting a couple in an embrace, sculpted here on a rock crystal pendant framed by an enamelled anemone (lot 35, estimate $22,017 – $28,021). As well as Lalique, several of his Art Nouveau contemporaries are also represented, including Georges Fouquet and Henri Vever.

Providing a stark contrast is the Art Deco portion of the sale which, while close chronologically, in many ways proved the antithesis to the Art Nouveau aesthetic that preceded it. The period's signature geometric shapes and architectural forms are exemplified in several fine pieces from Parisian jeweller Raymond Templier. Once quoted as saying that "jewellery is above all about light and shadow, not just about glitter", his forward-thinking approach to materials and designs comes through in works such as his bold, chunky rings featuring clean lines, asymmetrical detailing and striking coloured stones; and a striking, angular brooch that dramatically juxtaposes diamonds against a backdrop of black lacquer (lot 103, $45,034 - $65,050).

Georges Fouquet, alongside his son Jean, also turned his hand to the style of the time, with the former behind what is sure to be one of the most sought-after lots, an eye-catching onyx pendant set with a beautiful cabochon emerald (lot 110, $90,069 - $130,100). Also following the trend were many of the grand houses that continue to line Paris's Place Vendome; included in the auction are several Art Deco clocks and watches by Cartier and a particularly extraordinary Persian-inspired vanity case by Van Cleef & Arpels, featuring black enamel with jade and diamond accents and set with cabochon rubies and jade (lot 81, $45,034 - $65,050). With the popularity of Art Deco still shining strong, this sale provides a rare opportunity to pick up an exceptional original.

Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection sale takes place at Christie's Geneva on 13 November; christies.com

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