Jean Fouquet necklace – €800,000 (£689,655) at Christie’s Paris. Image copyright: Christie’s Images Limited 2021

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Jean Fouquet’s geometric necklace – as much a miniscule abstract sculpture as a piece of personal adornment – sold for €800,000 (£689,655), doubling its €350,000-450,000 mid estimate.

The price is a new auction high for Fouquet, said Christie’s, surpassing what is reckoned as the previous record: an emerald ring sold by Christie’s Geneva in 2017 for a premium-inclusive Sfr162,500 (then around £125,000).

The gold, silver and lacquer necklace, in an asymmetrical design featuring a massive aquamarine weighing in at 85-90ct, dates from c.1925. This was the year when the young Fouquet, who had just joined the family firm, showed some of his pieces at the seminal Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels, the exhibition which put Art Deco on the map, and where he won a medal. The jewel’s bold industrial-inspired innovative design is directly influenced by the work of the UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes) of which he was a member. The necklace came in a case by Georges Fouquet, Jean’s father.


Lalique dragonfly brooch – €140,000 (£120,690) at Christie’s Paris. Image copyright: Christie’s Images Limited 2021.

Another jewel in the auction by a world-famous French designer, in this case for Art Nouveau jewellery, was a signed Libellules brooch by Réné Lalique from c.1900. This was designed as four interlaced dragonflies – a favourite Art Nouveau motif because their irridescent wings lent themselves well to the different materials and techniques employed in these jewels.

Like the Fouquet necklace, the Lalique brooch also used aquamarine but here as a series of lozenge and calibré cut stones alongside rose cut diamonds with the insects formed from different types of enamelling.

It sold for €140,000 (£120,690) against a €30,000-50,000 guide.

Belperron popularity

A dedicated sale of jewellery held by Tajan (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) in Paris on July 12 yielded some strong results for named inter-war and mid-century pieces.

Susanne Belperrron’s (1900-63) jewellery has been enjoying a collecting vogue for some time and Tajan’s sale featured a pair of earclips from c.1945 formed as flowerheads that confirmed the demand. They were made from cabochon turquoises and amethysts set in yellow gold mounts and outstripped an estimate of €10,000-15,000 to take €52,000 (£44,830).

The sale also included an articulated pink gold necklace mounted with beryls and citrines from René Boivin, the firm for which Belperron worked until 1932 when she moved to the Maison Herz.

The Tajan necklace dated from c.1935- 45, after Belperron had left. It had French assay and maker’s marks, came in the original velvet lined case and realised €58,000 (£50,000), almost double the estimate.

Also outstripping its €10,000-15,000 guide, at €75,000 (£64,655), was a small Art Deco rectangular hardstone and gold clock from the French jewellery house of Maison Bourdier, a firm created in the 19th century by Theodule Bourdier.

Measuring just 4¾ x 2¾ x 2in (12 x 7 x 5cm) overall, signed Bordier Paris and with a French assay mark, it featured two jade leaves decorated with Chinese birds that open to reveal a dial with a lapis lazuli ground framing a central feature of a deer by a rock and set with gold Arabic numerals.

A much older piece in the sale was an impressive fringe necklace from c.1860, composed of 54 lambrequin pendants terminating in cushion-shaped diamonds with further brilliant cut stones around the neck, set in pink gold and silver. Its seven central diamonds ranged in size from 1 to 1.8ct. This sold for €51,500 (£44,395).