Two Cartier jewels offered by Elmwood’s (20% buyer’s premium) in London on June 10 dated from c.1940: a bracelet comprising circular carved rock crystal links punctuated by sugarloaf coral cabochons, and an arrow-form clip brooch set with a row of step cut tourmalines with old cut diamonds providing contrast.
Both fully signed, the former also with French assay marks, these performed with gusto – selling at £16,000 (estimate £5000-8000) and £8500 (estimate £6000-8000) respectively.
The aquamarine was another stone championed by Maison Cartier and the top French ateliers during this challenging post-Depression era. Like tourmalines and topaz, the pale blue beryl was pushed to the forefront of jewellery design.
This auction included, as the property of a lady, a number of (unsigned) aquamarine jewels acquired by the owner’s family from SJ Phillips in the 1970s. At the time many of these large diamond-highlighted pieces were being broken up but the survivors that have appeared on the market in recent years have done so with great aplomb.
A 1950s necklace, brooch and earring suite combining around 10ct of diamonds with approximately 150ct of emerald-cut aquamarines (the largest weighing 19.83ct) was offered here with a guide of £15,000- 20,000 but sold at £30,000.
Ten phone lines were also booked for a 1940s dress ring with a central stone of 13.04ct, between geometric shoulders set with step cut tourmalines and single cut diamond. It was probably Brazilian and of a colour that today would be designated ‘Martha Rocha’ (after the 1950s beauty queen known for her captivating blue eyes). The hammer price was £8500 (estimate £2000-3000).
Good coloured stones and signed pieces remain the strength of the jewellery market. So too are modernist pieces by the Cool Britannia generation of Grima, Donald and De Temple.
Elmwood’s offering of 1970s jewels included a pair of green tourmaline earrings by Andrew Grima, each set in diamond-accented fan borders (£5500 to a collector), and an abstract 18ct yellow gold brooch with diamond accents with marks for Gillian Packard, London 1970 (£1500).
Many jewels of this period use semi-precious minerals as primary stones – but there are always exceptions. Unmarked but also dating from c.1970 was a diamond cocktail ring by Charles de Temple that comprised a central round cut diamond of 2.78ct against a textured ground of two-coloured gold and smaller diamond highlights. Offered in a Charles de Temple box, Elmwood’s said it got away to a collector at the lower end of a £15,000-20,000 guide.