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Posts in Estate Jewelry

Masterful Design

by on November 5th, 2010

Betteridge Collection 'Juno' Gem-Set Brooch by Boucheron

Betteridge Collection 'Juno' Gem-Set Brooch by Boucheron

Masterful design, coincident with exceptional craftsmanship, creates something timeless that transcends trends as well as culture. Objects are sought after all over the world, and like all areas of the fine and decorative arts, competition is intense.

When looking for this type of object, a relationship with someone or a company can fast track and often save significant amounts of money where otherwise one may go to auction and become locked in to aggressive bidding with a similar private collector. Sourcing with expertise is a rare commodity and the advice that goes alongside can be invaluable.

The term magnificent is also a subjective adjective, it can manifest itself in scale as well as value, but presence and beauty are crucial. Just because a stone is 20, 30 or 40 carats, the word should not necessarily apply.

In the case of ‘Juno,’ this jewel was designed and made by Boucheron, the hallowed design house. It was exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and is one of the great Art Nouveau jewels. Juno (the most powerful Roman goddess) is carved in white jade, clothed in peacock armor and detailed with yellow sapphires and diamonds. It is a tour de force of design and manufacturing, and can carry the word magnificent with great comfort. It is almost five inches long and as a pendant as striking and symbolic as any Art Nouveau jewel ever made.

Education is Part of the Fun

by on November 4th, 2010

Alexandrite & Diamond Ring, $55,000

Betteridge Collection Alexandrite & Diamond Ring

The most interesting aspect of the jewelry market is that there are layers upon layers of information one leading onto the other. There are also markets within markets that operate in different ways in different parts of the world. Colorless diamonds and colored diamonds; natural pearls and cultured pearls; as well as countless periods and styles spanning three hundred years are just part of the panoply.

The three snapshot articles above have barely scratched the surface of our world.

It is widely known that the best buyer is an educated buyer, and in response to this Terry Betteridge, Warren Lagerloef and I are regular speakers in Greenwich and around the country at private events and international fine arts fairs.

Most recently in Greenwich I gave two presentations on the importance (or not) of signed jewelry, and the range of colored gemstones apart from “the big three.” In these seminars I worked diligently to illustrate each subject with images of jewels I have handled spanning 25 years as well as wonderful hands on examples of each genre.

A Small and Sacred Find

by on September 7th, 2010

Joan d'Arc Brooch

Many times, the greatest gift is a small one; the most wonderful jewel, not very big.

From the collection of the foremost expert on antique French jewels in the world, we bought a little enameled girl surrounded by tiny diamonds.

She waves a banner in glistening armor, while carrying a golden sword and axe on her belt. Upon closer examination, she also has a fine, golden halo with saints on her banner kneeling to the Christ child and crusaders’ crosses riveting the steel of her suit together. A tiny golden figure (actual gold trapped between many firings of glass), a fleur-de-lis wave at the end of her banner with chestnut-colored hair falling gracefully over her shoulders.

She is Joan d’Arc!

It’s an amazing, devotional painting in a medium few artists could master and fewer still could accomplish in miniature. For a few thousand dollars, a girl who spoke to God and found legions of soldiers commit to her visions, will endlessly hold that banner high. A small but priceless jewel.

Buccellati Geranium Leaf Earclips: Enduring Value

by on July 31st, 2010

Estate Buccellati Geranium Leaf Earclips

Estate Buccellati Geranium Leaf Earclips, $3,800

Where can you find a pair of stylized, handmade, 18k gold, signed, iconically branded earrings for the price of a contemporary designer’s gold and silver bracelet?

These Betteridge Estate Collection Earrings by Buccellati are exquisitely thought out, incorporating at least a thousand dollars worth of hand engraving which creates a truly authentic natural motif. They are as well executed as any piece of jewelry can be.

Betteridge Estate Collection jewelry includes pieces from world-renowned brands that have demonstrated their artistic excellence and enduring value over the decades: brands like Buccellati, Tiffany, Boucheron, Schlumberger, David Webb and Cartier.

The true value of a superb piece of estate jewelry isn’t just about the dollars – it’s about the unique, enduring beauty and the lasting value of an unparalleled piece of craftsmanship.

A Small Gem from a Powerful Empire

by on July 31st, 2010

Art Deco Moghul Carved Emerald & Diamond Pendant

Art Deco Moghul Carved Emerald & Diamond Pendant, $19,500

The Moghul Empire of 1526-1857 was a period of unparalleled power, when wealth and Indian culture flourished — none more so than with its extraordinary supply of gems and jewelry. Not only did it provide some of the greatest gems known, but the legacy of style and design has influenced jewelry houses around the world ever since.

This influence was never stronger than during the Art Deco period, when all the great firms were intoxicated by all things Indian. In particular, the refashioning of older stones to contemporary objects was “de rigeur” for the old Indian royal families, as well as their Occidental cousins.

This Art Deco pendant is a perfect example of how Western taste became seduced by this genre. The small symmetrical platinum and diamond cap sits on top of a nineteenth century emerald bead of approximately 30.00 carats, exquisitely carved with foliate lotus motifs and delicate vertical fluting.

This carving is typical of the Moghul style, where naturalistic motifs would cover every possible area. Made in England in the 1920’s, it is a wonderful combination of simplicity and decoration, and is as wearable today as when it was first made.

An Antique Sapphire and Diamond Flower Spray Pin

by on July 1st, 2010

Victorian Sapphire & Diamond Flower Brooch

Victorian Sapphire & Diamond Flower Spray Pin, $28,000

The Victorian era is often described as being rich, opulent and grandiose, particularly in the fine and decorative arts; however, in between lofty tiaras and dripping necklaces, many pieces of jewelry display grace, elegance and a timeless appearance. Figurative jewelry was also extremely popular, and, in particular, flora and fauna were interpreted in almost every way.

This sapphire and diamond brooch dates from around 1860, and is a perfect example of exceptional workmanship combined with an elegance that translates to an object considered beautiful in any era. Set with a 15 carat natural Ceylon sapphire, the scroll leaves have a sculptural quality that is much more three dimensional than many pins one sees from this period. The flower has a long curved stem suspended in the wind in an arching line of diamonds perfectly proportioned for the shoulder it is to rest on.

To use contradictory terms this is understated elegance that has tremendous impact for the sophisticated lover of jewelry.

Power Play: Marina B Art-Deco Inspired Ruby & Diamond Earrings

by on April 1st, 2010

Marina B Ruby & Diamond Earrings, $75,000

These spectacular ruby and diamond earrings by Marina B are a radical departure from her usual style of playful color and polished gold in bold unusual shapes.

Marina Bulgari was the granddaughter of Sotirio Boulgaris, the founder of Bulgari. In 1979, she opened her first boutique in Geneva and went on to international recognition.

The Art-Deco-inspired spirit to these earrings includes very fine Burmese rubies surrounded by pave-set and baguette-cut diamonds mounted in platinum.

Different jewelry designs create a wide variety of styles, and these earrings are about confidence, power and glamour.

Boucheron Fan-link Gem-set Bracelet

by on March 1st, 2010

The recent Miami and Palm Beach antique shows were bustling with buyers eager to buy, but only in certain areas. Mediocre quality still has a tough time finding a market, but a wonderful signed piece of jewelry that is beautiful and easy to wear is in great demand.

This diamond and multi-gem set bracelet by Boucheron, Paris is one of those special pieces. Designed in the early 1950’s, it has a lingering retro, yet light fluid style that embodies Boucheron’s chic and stylish design.

Frederick Boucheron started his business in 1858 and quickly became one of the world’s foremost jewelry houses. Consistently producing seamless modern design, style and craftsmanship, there is no better jeweler than this for the sophisticated collector.

Victorian Pink Tourmaline & Diamond Brooch: An Antique Love Trophy

by on February 1st, 2010

Victorian Pink Tourmaline & Diamond Brooch, $29,000

The late-nineteenth century was arguably the most romantic period of jewelry design. Sentiments and symbolism were saturated in every art form: from the Pre-Raphaelites to the jeweler’s bench, signs of love and devotion were everywhere.

This imposing pink tourmaline & diamond trophy brooch has crossed arrows depicting the incisive influence of Eros, and these in turn cross an anchor that joins the two arrows (hearts) in the hope of mutual adoration. The diamond surround represents the laurel and the triumph of love. Nothing could be more romantic, and although heavy in sentimentality, not sugary sweet- just strong and very beautiful.

An Exceptional Burmese Ruby Ring

by on December 1st, 2009

9.50 Carat Burmese Ruby & Diamond Cluster Ring

9.50 Carat Burmese Ruby & Diamond Cluster Ring, $175,000

This is a truly extraordinary ring. It’s a classic Edwardian-style cluster ring, centering on a gem-color untreated, natural Burmese ruby, set in an important diamond entourage.

Nothing has more impact, particularly during this time of year, than a stunning ruby ring.