It’s no secret by now when I say that I love jewelry! One aspect of jewelry I really love is the history and craftsmanship that even the smallest piece can have. These qualities can be found in modern jewelry or vintage jewelry. Going into a store and appreciating the work and design is a pastime of mine. Unfortunately, a little guilt can come when going in too often and not buying. A great alternative for me is attending auction previews. I’ve been to several in New York and Boston over the years. This December was no exception. The auction houses that I attend were having their previews around the same time so I made a day trip to see three auction houses in New York City and one in Boston over the first weekend in December. Yes I went to 4 auction previews in 2 days! Each had a some amazing must see pieces that I’ll share below, as well as some history with them.
Sotheby’s Auction House (New York City)
I started my day at Sotheby’s Auction House. This was the first auction house I had been to when I first came to NYC. I bought a bus ticket to see Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry displayed and up for auction. So when I heard Sotheby’s was selling another set of her jewelry I knew this was a must see. The set below is more than jewelry owned by a celebrity, the designer Suzanne Belperron has an amazing story as well. Ms. Belperron was a jewelry designer in the early 20th century. A rare profession for a woman to hold and to be so successful her jewelry came with the highest in quality of design. Her designs were so strong and unique she did not sign most of her work. She claimed, “My style is my signature.” So finding identifiable work of hers is rare and in 1987 the Duchess of Windsor a buyer of Belperron’s jewelry could only identify 5 of 16 pieces as that of the artist. This set below is one of the pieces sold almost 30 years ago and up for auction again.
This jewelry above is made with chalcedony, sapphires, diamonds and white gold. The cuffs sold as a set for $526,000, in line with the $400,000-$600,000 estimate. The necklace estimated to sell between $350,000-$550,000 earned the sum of $430,000. There were other items as well.
Below Left- a pair of topaz and diamond earring by JAR that sold for $358,000
Below Middle-a necklace designed by Van Cleef & Arpels owned by Queen Nazil of Egypt sold for about $4.3 million
Below Right- another auction preview for watches this gold and enamel watch from 1810 sold for $30,000
Christie’s Auction House (New York City)
Next stop was another famous auction house Christie’s. Below is jewelry owned by Carroll Petrie. Raised in South Carolina, Mrs. Petrie gained a passion for art and culture. She moved to New York City where she became a model and married a man that was in New York High Society. She gained many beautiful pieces of jewelry and was involved in Philanthropy which put her in contact with celebrities such as Joan Rivers, President Reagan and wife Nancy, among others. Both necklaces below are designed by Jean Schlumberger. The first one sold far above the estimate of $200,000-$300,000 going for $905,000! The necklace below that had the same estimate and sold for $725,000! These pieces were amazing to see in person. The sparkle and vibrancy of the gems was breath taking!
The gold headband above was also owned by Mrs. Petrie. This fun piece was estimated at $5,000-$7,000 and sold below the estimate for $4,375. Not as pricey as the ones above but a another piece to this woman’s fabulous life!
Bonham’s Auction House (New York City)
My final stop in NYC was at a smaller auction house, Bonham’s. The featured item for this auction was a gold clown with a black opal center, covered with diamonds, ruby an sapphires. It was a unique piece and not too big. This brooch made by Cartier in 1975 sold for $37,500.(below far left)
There were other incredible pieces to see. Next to the clown belown is a picture of a stunning Trianon designed cultured pearl, sapphire, diamond and shell brooch. I love shell jewelry and found this to be so beautiful! This was withdrawn from the auction. The photo next to the shell on the right, is a coral, emerald, pearl brooch by Tony Duquette. The bid was with drawn and did not sell. The final photo on the right is a bit blurry but in person was so full of fire and brilliance I had to add this 3.8 carat ruby ring surround by 3.3 carats of diamonds. Sadly this too did not sell. For this rings case the trend is large stone gems and 3.8 is not a large stone, but I would have gladly taken it! So 3 houses down one left for the next day as I journey back to Boston.
Skinner Auction House (Boston)
Even with being a little tired the next day I regained my energy to see another Suzanne Belperron piece. This diamond and platinum brooch is another example of Suzanne Belperron’s fine and unique work. This piece was made in 1940 and was estimated to sell between $20,000-$30,000. As seems the trend with my picks this did not sell. Hopefully sometime this work of art will find a good home. I did find other fun items for you to enjoy below!
I tried to get better details but the lighting was not as great as I hoped for but you can imagine the entrance this piece would make on someone! This 18kt white gold and diamond necklace by Stefan Hafner(below the two photos to the right), is beyond fantasy! Holding it was like holding a diamond net, the movement and fluidity of the piece was what made this piece so fun to see! It was estimated to sell for $25,000-$35,000 and earned the sum of $27,060!
I have really taken an interest in these carved figures that invoke a time long before the modern world. This brooch to the left above is no exception! This small 14kt gold and multi-gemstone brooch of a fortune teller was only selling for an estimate $400-$600, and went for $492. A really amazing deal in my opinion!
So that was my journey to see all these pieces and more. I learned about history, design and appreciated the little details that can get lost when only looking for the expensive items. If you went to see these auctions let me know what else you liked and please subscribe to my email list for more updates! Thank you for reading my article!