This brooch was originally owned by Catherine Lederer Durant, the wife of William Crapo Durant, co-founder of General Motors, Chevrolet and Frigidaire. The Durants enjoyed a luxurious life but (rather like Charlton & Co) suffered following the stock market crash of 1929.
After her husband declared bankruptcy in 1936, Catherine Durant was forced to sell most of her jewellery. This brooch, one of the few pieces she retained to pass down in the family, appeared for sale at Skinner (23% buyer’s premium) in Boston on December 6 where it sold at $22,000 (£17,000).
The precise origins of the pair of platinum, diamond and black onyx pendant earrings pictured below are uncertain (dating to c.1920 they are unmarked), but their inventive Deco design proved extremely popular at Doyle New York on December 14.
Modelled as love birds with small rose-cut red stone eyes perched in onyx circles, they came from the collection of ‘a prominent New York family’. The theme of love birds appears in designs of the period by makers such as Cartier and Mauboussin.
Although some repair was required (four stones would need replacing), they sold at $32,500 (£25,000) – many times the $2000-3000 estimate.