Fabulous jewellery coming soon to auction

Jewel Citizen picks 4 opulent brooches

Summer is here – the air is warm, the sky is blue, and here at Jewel Citizen I’m getting all of a flutter about a number of jewellery auctions that’ll soon be taking place in the UK.

This coming week, on the 11th of July, it’s Sworder’s ‘Jewellery and Silver’ sale, shortly followed by Lawrences ‘Jewellery’ sale on the 13th of July, so no doubt I’ll have a busy viewing schedule. And a quick trip up to Knightsbridge, London is a must to see the jewellery being offered at Bonham’s on the 19th.

An event I really can’t wait to view and attend is Woolley and Wallis’s ‘Jewellery and Watches’ sale, which is happening on the 20th of July. It’s always a treat to receive one of their beautifully-illustrated catalogues, and I was delighted there was one waiting for me at home when I got back from a recent trip abroad. The jewellery to be offered is predominately antique, estate, and vintage, and at the more affordable end of the market than many of the pieces to be found in their ‘Fine Jewellery’ sales. Having said that I’m seeing many exquisite things in this catalogue and am sure the event will be a great success.

Confession time – I’ve got a bit of a ‘thing’ about brooches at the moment! A few years ago they were something you’d only really see on older women; I’d even go as far as to say that a lot of top quality inherited pieces found themselves unloved, unworn, and gathering dust. A friend of mine inherited her grandma’s jewels and left them in a bank vault for years. With tastes changing I’m sure a lot of you now feel very differently about the ultimate item of versatile jewellery.

So naturally I’m drawn to some of the vintage brooches in Woolley and Wallis’s upcoming sale. I’ve picked out just 4 of my favourites because it’d be hard to do justice to all the jewellery in such a short article.

The first one is a 19th century Egyptian-influenced scarab brooch pendant, shown above, comprising of a deer-headed mythical creature clutching two feathers, its wings with enamel decoration, and suspending three articulated scarabs. Estimate GBP 2,500 – 3,500. Such a dramatic piece, I’d feel like Cleopatra if I wore it.

A less spectacular but equally beautiful piece is the Regency gold and turquoise dove brooch shown below. Since ancient times doves have symbolised love and peace, and appear in the symbolism of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity. Turquoise is a stone often worn for luck. The bird carries in its beak a forget-me-not flower, and to the reverse is a glazed compartment containing hair. Estimate GBP 400 – 600. I’d attach this brooch to my hat, or perhaps to a sash – anywhere but the classic lapel! The possibilities are endless…

Lizards and salamanders were popular motifs in late Victorian jewellery and this particular example is a 10cm long multi-gem brooch, pavé-set all over in silver and gold with opals and diamonds, the head set with a circular-cut demantoid garnet, and ruby eyes.

Dating to the reign of George III is my final choice – an amethyst and diamond pendant brooch in gold and silver. With an estimate of GBP 600 – 800 it’d look fantastic securing a silk scarf, attached to an evening purse, or even against a hat.

To view these brooches and many other pieces of jewellery visit www.woolleyandwallis.co.uk

(photos courtesy of Woolley and Wallis)

Jewel Citizen goes back to school

Graduates of 2017 proudly showcase their work at The School of Jewellery Ireland

During the last evening of my long interlude in the Emerald Isle I was fortunate enough to have attended a private viewing of The School of Jewellery Ireland’s 2017 Graduate Exhibition, an event being held in the school’s Dublin studios until the 6th of July.

Graduates, family members, and friends admiring the collections

Deirdre O’Donnell, a renowned goldsmith, businesswoman, and tutor is the founder of The School and to this day remains very much its guiding force. For two years The School has been offering a full-time, year-long ‘Certificate in Jewellery and Goldsmith Skills’ course, and in addition this year saw the first graduates from the Higher Certificate course. Having attended The School myself I’ve got high hopes for the graduates and their work.

For anyone organising an exhibition there are always going to be pertinent questions: Will enough people show up on the launch night? Will the event be well received? Will it all go smoothly and to plan?

As I entered the Graduate Exhibition gallery and made my way into the throng it was clear that not only was the jewellery excellently presented in tall well-lit glass display stands, but it was also of outstanding quality. I sipped a glass of wine and waited for an opportunity to view the work.

It would be hard to do justice to all the graduates in such a short review and if I focus on just a few of the collections it’s in no way intended to be dismissive of the others.

Sinead Murphy, who is soon to be launching her own brand under the apt name Cosmic Boulevard, unveiled a cohesive body of work that originally had the working title ‘things I see in the sky’. Clearly a stargazing lady, Sinead’s creations include a show-stopping multi-gem UFO ring, delicately engraved silver pendants and bracelets based on the sun and moon, and her ‘Stellar’ cocktail ring, a substantial silver statement piece featuring a fashionable open top encircled by dark inky-blue sapphires.

Sinead Murphy’s collection on display at The School of Jewellery Ireland

For some jewellers humour and the evocation of positive emotions is an essential part of what they aim to create. Yvonne Kelly succeeds in this with her whimsical flip-flop pendant and earrings, each miniature rendering of footwear conjuring up mental images of beach holidays and summer fun.

Phenomena of the natural world and geographical locations play a key part in many of the graduates’ collections – there are ocean and beach themes, trees, lizards, jellyfish, and other wild creatures – and in addition to this some designs are clearly influenced by their creators’ hobbies and interests. The Camino – a pilgrimage route through Europe which ends up in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain – is the inspiration behind another very interesting collection.

Theresa Fee’s work, as seen in the photo below, features an engraved amulet pendant set with amethyst, its hollow interior allowing the wearer to secrete within it a photo, small prayer scroll, or written wish. Drawing on her love of Asia and yoga, Theresa’s ‘Om’ collection of earrings and pendant combine stylised lotus leaves with delicately pierced om symbols.

Theresa Fee’s jewellery which is inspired by her love of Asia and yoga

Deirdre O’Donnell commented, “The Full Time Certificate courses at The School of Jewellery Ireland are designed to offer graduates all of the practical jewellery and goldsmith skills needed to develop a career in the jewellery trade. This year’s graduates have excelled in creating their jewellery collections and the end of year exhibition is a great opportunity for them to showcase their hard work. We have every confidence that they will go on to achieve great things in their future careers and wish them every success!”

Further information about The School of Jewellery Ireland, its course schedule, and the Graduate Exhibition may be found on www.theschoolofjewellery.ie

Masterpiece London 2017

Some of my favourite jewels from this year’s show

Earlier this week I was thrilled to have been in London for Masterpiece, one of the world’s most exclusive art and antiques fairs. An annual event since 2010, the fair is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in a specially constructed marquee with the facade of a red-brick Georgian building. The sleek and modern interior accommodates approximately 150 exhibitors, Scott’s Seafood & Champagne Bar, and fine dining restaurants such as The Ivy Chelsea Brasserie, and Le Caprice.

It’s estimated that over a billion pound’s worth of fine art, antiques, jewellery, and antiquities are offered at the fair, giving it the feel of a luxurious museum where everything is for sale.

As I walked through the red carpeted entrance there were no doubts in my mind that soon I’d be gazing upon the crème de la crème of jewels.

Wartski, the London dealer specialising in Russian works of art and particularly those of Carl Fabergé, never fails to disappoint with its selection of period jewellery.

The photo below shows a brooch in the form of a cicada c1900 by Frédéric Boucheron, the delicately-executed wings with plique-à-jour enamel work.

A multi-gem pendant brooch by Gustave Baugrand drew my attention for its bold 19th century Egyptian-revival design. Centred with a rock crystal panel and enamelled portrait of a goddess and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, the lower border set with carved emerald scarabs. Paris, c1865.

One of my favourite pieces with Wartski this year was an enamelled pansy plaque-de-cou by René Lalique, seen on the righthand side of the photo below. I imagine that this exquisite piece would have formed the central part of a choker-style necklace and perhaps been held in place by ribbon.

After a rejuvenating glass of champagne it was time to move on to Symbolic and Chase. Their exhibition area is darker, which gives it something of a nightclub ambience, with artfully-lit cabinets containing many important pieces of jewellery.

I simply adore pearl necklaces and soon found one to covet – the natural-coloured double-row pearl and diamond necklace in the photo below.

Many visitors to Symbolic and Chase were drawn to an emerald, pearl, and diamond sautoir incorporating an historic 114 carat vivid yellow diamond, by JAR, Paris. The yellow diamond is currently the largest certified old-cut cushion-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond known in the world. It was formerly in the collection of Countess Rosario Zouboff, and auctioned by Christie’s in 1962.

In summary, many of pieces of jewellery offered at Masterpiece this year rivalled those held in the collections of leading museums around the world. Masterpiece really is an event not to miss.