It was five years ago – just as the Sixties animal brooch roared back into collecting fashion – that Van Cleef and Arpels issued an appeal to locate Precious Puppy.
This rare (possibly unique) piece designed in 1954, with its ‘knitted’ gold fur, an onyx nose and emerald eyes, was the one brooch from its La Beastiere collection of whimsical gold and gem-set brooches that it did not have in its museum collection.
This clever bit of digital marketing, coupled with an image of the golden pup taken from an advert in 1966 alongside the word Missing in large capital letters, brought the brand some welcome publicity among a younger demographic.
Check your grandmother’s jewellery box or ask a friend. Maybe they know where he’s hiding? Lots of likes, shares and hashtags followed.
However, it was not until late last year that Precious Puppy was indeed found – located safe and seemingly well in Rio de Janeiro. The gentleman owner decided to put it up for sale at Phillips New York (26% buyer’s premium) where on December 13, estimated at $8000-12,000, it took a mighty $62,000 (£52,000).
The animal-themed jewels that had proved so popular in the Victorian era enjoyed several revivals in the 20th century. The Art Nouveau movement found much of its inspiration in the forms and lines of nature. The Deco period ushered in Cartier’s famous big cats.
And in the post-war era there was a much more whimsical menagerie inspired by the cartoons of Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes and Walt Disney.
If jewellery had hitherto sought to impress, imply status and convey meaning, these were simply worn to bring a smile.
After falling from fashion, 60s animal brooches and other related novelties are, like so much retro chic, now back in demand. A selection of recently sold examples is pictured here – including Precious Puppy, shown top.