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Posts Tagged Brooches

An Extraordinary Demi-Parure from the 1860s

by on April 16th, 2016

Time capsules are meant to be rare and wonderful discoveries. To find them in the same condition as when they were first worn is to be transported back (in this case, to the time of the Civil War).

This garnet ‘parure’- set of jewels- is completed by its original French velvet fitted box. There are no repairs and none needed. The gold setting and central natural pearls are rarities reserved for the extraordinary Bohemian work on display here.

1860-70 in its glory.

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A Flock of Jeweled Birds

by on December 11th, 2015

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They are swallows by the curving swoop of the wing and forked tails; the fighter pilots of the insect eaters. Here, in the iPhone photo from the day I bought them from Argentina, they move whether upside down or tumbling just as the real bird does in flight, but with the added benefit of the tiny spring fitted into a barrel on the pin, to let the diamonds do their stuff and to “tremble” with every step: Mounted “en tremblant”.

At the end of the Beaux Arts period, maybe 1895, these were made by a Parisian of the first order when it came to skills. The upside down bird shows the extraordinary piercing work known as “azuring”…. daylighting, where wonderful geometric patterns give a delicacy that allows cleaning but maintains the strength of the piece.

Done first by an engraver to mark the line, next by the saw piercer who shaped the cuts and finally by the “thrummer,” who threaded cotton cording charged with diamantine powders through the holes and stroked the string up and down the cavities until they were mirror polished- even where no one would ever see after the diamond surface was pavéd.

The flock together is never the same. They tremble and turn; are removed and re-grouped and always show a style and grace marking one of the great periods in truly, high jewelry making.

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Diamond Heart Pendant, Circa 1895

by on February 14th, 2013

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At the end of the 19th century, platinum was for the first time being used to set diamonds, though still with the historically used gold backing.

Seen from behind, the pendant’s setting is almost entirely pierced and filed away. It creates the appearance of a honeycomb in gold and platinum whose engineering would make Buckminister Fuller proud. Perfect strength with a minimum of material, though a maximum of labor.

After the sawing and filing, cotton string and pith wood charged with fine abrasive powders and carried by beeswax were “thrummed” to mirror polish the cutaways. The process creates the perfect seats for each small diamond.

From the back just as much as the front, this is perfection seldom seen.

Whimsy as High Art

by on August 11th, 2012

Occasionally, the great Parisian jewelers all stepped back from classically opulent jewelry making to design something artistic and amusing, while still maintaining unsurpassed quality in material and design.

By Van Cleef & Arpels, this jewel of a British bulldog is a representational tour de force. With enameled wingtip collar and chained diamond monocle, not only is all England invoked, but Winston Churchill in particular. Tenacity and single-minded purpose dressed as a gentleman…

I’ve spent much of my life on the hunt for wonderful and unique jewelry pieces. My favorite jewelry has meaning- in this case, the historic allure of one of the most important men, and greatest characters, of modern times.

Van Cleef & Arpels 18k Gold, Enamel & Diamond Bulldog Pin

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.

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.

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.