An Aguttes catalogue is a bit like a box of gourmet sweets for me. Diving into it makes me happy and propels me into a world that I am particularly fond of. Historical jewels, beautiful signatures, rare or atypical materials collide and reveal themselves on every page. On 21 October, the director of the jewellery department will offer no less than 159 lots for a delightful sale. The sale is smaller, but the quality of the lots is very high, with a predominance of pieces from Cartier. So, I suggest you discover my selection in this article which, I hope, will make you want to bid!
Lot 12: Gold and citrine bishop’s ring, 19th century work. Estimate between 500 and 800 euros. Photo: Aguttes
Why choose a bishop’s ring? Firstly because they are relatively uncommon at auction. These honorary rings are sufficiently precious for what they represent that they are often kept in families. However, some very fine examples do appear in auction rooms from time to time. This ring, with its decorative grape, a fairly common Christian symbol, appealed to me as much for its relative simplicity as for its discreet opulence. Its estimate will allow you to acquire a ring loaded with symbols. If you are a lover of distinctive jewellery, far from the boring standards, you know what you have to do!
Lot 23: Gold and enamel ring signed by Georges Fouquet, circa 1900. Estimate between 3000 and 4000 euros. Photo: Aguttes
How can you say no to a piece of Fouquet jewellery, both the father and the son! Talent has never been lost in this dynasty of jewellers. This ring, extremely simple, has all the codes that one expects in an Art Nouveau jewel. There is the sensuality, the grace of the character, the delicacy of the whole. Did you know that the house’s boutique has survived in a Parisian museum? It is possible to admire the reconstruction of the shop at the Carnavalet Museum, where it has been superbly reassembled. In its day, you had to go to rue royale. This signed and numbered piece of jewellery must have adorned the hands of many elegant women, as evidenced by the patinated gold, the colour of which I find absolutely perfect. Art Nouveau shows us all its complexity with each piece, but sometimes more everyday objects make an appearance on the market, such as this ring. And therein lies the interest of this movement which wanted beautiful, but accessible beautiful. Since then, the price of this type of piece has soared, making them even more precious and desirable.
Lot 48 and 49: two coral, onyx, diamond and white gold necklaces. Estimate of the first between 2000 and 3000 euros, the second between 3500 and 4000 euros. Photos: Aguttes
These two necklaces, made of red coral and onyx, are totally in the art deco style without being from this period. However, they take up all the stylistic codes. The combination of black and red is one of the signatures of this artistic movement whose pieces present a sobriety and a perfect geometry. Far from Art Nouveau, which was no longer wanted at the time, the designers dared to propose a jewellery style that was fully successful in the 1920s. Daring geometries, contrasting colours, the appearance of coloured ornamental materials, the use of coral, jade and onyx, the jewellers of the time never ceased to have fun and to propose pieces that were unaffected by time. The length of the chains should be noted, 50 cm for the first, more than 60 cm for the second. Here again, women dare to remove their corsets, dresses become straight, fluid, the constraints in the garment begin to disappear, and the jewellery follows the movement. Gone were the necklaces that were too close to the neck, tight and austerely elegant. After the First World War, people wanted lightness to forget the dramatic years that had just passed. Jewellery moves, tinkles. There is joy in the air!
Lot 50: Cartier “Tortue” ladies’ watch, platinum, gold, diamonds, circa 1915. Estimated at 7,000 to 10,000 euros. Photo: Aguttes
Conceived and marketed in 1912, the Tortue watch is a classic from the French jewellery house. Just ask Google and it will find dozens and dozens of them, vintage but recent nonetheless. In fact, what is on offer in the Aguttes sale is a treasure. This gold and platinum turtle watch dates from 1915. It is therefore a turtle from the beginning, which has survived history, both large and small, and which has been protected and loved so as not to disappear. This makes it all the more rare. All the more so since the company relaunched this model a few years ago, modifying it slightly to make it less bulging, more discreet. This has also taken away some of its charm. In this object, everything is beautiful: the fine mesh that composes the bracelet, the diamond of the winding mechanism, the certain and totally assumed Art Deco side with this geometrical frieze that frames the dial, itself dressed with diamonds. This rare object deserves only one thing: to end up on your wrist!
Lot 61: Cartier gold, platinum, diamond, sapphire and aquamarine bracelet. Circa 1960. Estimate between 7,000 and 10,000 euros. Photo: Aguttes
This bracelet is everything I love about the special order. A unique piece, out of the ordinary, but which nevertheless possesses all the codes of the period in which it was made. The aquamarines are perfectly coloured and saturated, and the chatons on the clasp tell the story of jewellery making without CAD, where jewellers soldered in plaster, adjusting the curve of the clasp by hand, the pattern of which, in this case, takes the shape of a chain link. The overall design of the piece is very much inspired by the pieces imagined and made by the House of Cartier for numerous clients including the Duchess of Windsor. The twisted stones were in vogue in the 40s and 50s and the clasp design is reminiscent of a bracelet made in the late 40s. I have a real soft spot for this type of jewellery which I find easy to wear and always very balanced. And the echo of Wallis Simpson’s elegance and chic is not lost on me.
Lot 71: Cartier “Feuille” gold necklace, circa 1950. Estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 euros. Photo: Aguttes
We always tend to associate the house of Cartier with the profusion of gemstones on a piece. And it’s not for nothing, the house’s high jewellery rivals in colour, astonishing combinations and stunning materials. This is a house that makes its mark. So when an all-gold necklace appears, we are almost surprised. And yet, have you noticed the delicacy of the work, the discreet fall of the motif and the regularity of the manufacture which evokes certain Greek friezes. The chain, a kind of square tube mesh, which holds the pattern is also very pretty. One would not necessarily think of a large house when seeing this piece, although the workmanship automatically points to a quality workshop. At first glance, one might think of Lenfant, for example, whose knits are now famous and sought after. So if you want to invest in a perfectly made and timelessly designed signed piece, this necklace is a good choice.
Lot 73: rare carp clip by Cartier, circa 1950-1960, gold, jade and diamond. Estimated at €12,000 to €15,000. Photo: Aguttes
8 cm, no less, for this imposing gold brooch, perfectly atypical and testifying to a special order from the House of Cartier. The jade disc has been damaged over the years, but the piece is nonetheless stunning. All the symbols of Asia are represented here with the carp, among others, representing perseverance, courage, determination and wisdom. The House of Cartier has never been afraid to look further afield and cross borders to see what foreign cultures could bring to their house. There are many examples of pieces that include elements of the Asian imagination from countries such as Japan and China. Engraved jade Bi discs (sometimes called Pi) are popular in Asia and are often worn simply on a cotton or silk cord. The symbolism of this object is very special as the disc is seen as a symbol of heaven, the celestial universe that Asian cultures revere. As for jade, it is the precious gemstone par excellence. Its price, even today, often exceeds that of a diamond, so sacred is its symbolism.
Lot 147: a sapphire bracelet signed by Vergers Frères. Estimate between 3000 and 3200 euros. Photo: Aguttes
I close my selection with a Vergers Frères bracelet. A house whose creations I particularly like. The object in question here is very classic. But I particularly like its movement. It looks like a ribbon. Vergers Frères pieces are not so numerous in auctions but the house still exists. Even if the current style is very far from the brand’s old production. As with the Cartier gold necklace shown above, this type of item offers the possibility of acquiring an object with a classic design, neat but signed. And that’s where the difference is made. It’s a little piece of French jewellery history. So if you like easy-to-match jewellery, this piece may well appeal to you.
See you soon!