On 10 February, the brand new auction house Art Research Paris will hold a sale dedicated to jewellery designers. A sale like I have rarely seen. With 205 lots, this sale is a real plunge into contemporary jewellery like few others. Jewellers, jewellers, visionaries, the signatures in this catalogue are all exceptional in more ways than one. More importantly, this is a breathtaking private collection. The word is weak because I was so overwhelmed when I discovered the pieces. Unpacked in front of me were jewels signed Jean and Thierry Vendôme, Gilbert Albert, Wolfers, Fernand Demaret or Diana Carmichael. And I am not talking about the watches… Dials in perfect ornamental stones: malachite, tiger’s eye, opal… Too much or too little, it is impossible to find the right words to describe the accumulation of pieces. Or if, one, “Freedom”, because all the jewels present in this catalogue celebrate the creative freedom, the poetic imagination and the total confidence towards her jewellers of the one who acquired, wore and loved them.
So I propose to you to discover some lots of the sale, the selection was hard, but the catalogue awaits you on the site of the house ARP Auction Paris. And if you can, don’t miss the sale. I hope it will be as good as the pieces offered. And what a collection!
The catalogue is rich with 31 pieces signed by Jean or Thierry Vendome. Impossible to choose a particular piece as they are all superb. Five pieces, a bit randomly, but it was dazzling to handle them during the discovery of the sale. In the slide show, lots 3, 74, 75, 76 and 80. Some of the pieces were presented at the exhibition at the Galerie de Minéralogie in Paris in 1998. Born in 1930 and deceased in 2017, Jean Vendome leaves behind an incomparable body of work in the world of contemporary French jewellery. This collection reflects all the diversity of his work, his love for rough stones and his passion for materials. But above all, he was a jeweller, a technician, who knew his trade perfectly, who knew when to call upon skills he did not have. He was a craftsman, with a craft in his hands, and an overflowing creativity nourished by his own research and his curiosity for the world and nature.
Fernand Demaret was the pioneer of contemporary Belgian jewellery. Although his style is very different from that of Jean Vendome, he is nevertheless a key figure in the modernist and contemporary movement. The catalogue includes 31 pieces by the designer, and I have chosen to present lots 5, 22, 27, 32 and 34. Born in 1924 in Namur, his father was a jeweller and his grandfather a watchmaker. His basic ambition was relatively simple: to learn his grandfather’s trade and take over his grandfather’s clientele by adding a little jewellery. But an encounter in 1954 changed his destiny. One day in 1954, he met Mrs Liliane Nathalie Mosselmans who was to become his wife. Together with his friend André Lamy, a goldsmith, he started the Atelier Demaret in 1961, where important names in contemporary Belgian jewellery would rub shoulders. Claude Wesel, for example, was a regular visitor to the workshop. His first shop under his own name was located on Rue du Bailli, and he later moved to Avenue Louise, one of the most beautiful in the city. Recognised as one of the leaders of contemporary Belgian creation, he left an indelible mark on the history of jewellery. His very own universe, recognisable among thousands, has definitely become unforgettable. His electric circuits and spaceships are all elements that characterise his futuristic style. Don’t ask me why, but every time I see his pieces, I think of the cartoon that marked my childhood: The Sunken Worlds.
Among the leading designers in this sale is Gilbert Albert, the Swiss contemporary jeweller par excellence. 21 pieces with his signature are part of this fabulous private collection. To illustrate, lots 4, 16, 40, 41 and 51. When I started in this business over 20 years ago, I was – and still am – a fan of his work so I admired every piece I saw in the press. So to be able to handle so many pieces of jewellery from this sacred monster of the jewellery world was quite a fabulous moment. Gilbert Albert doesn’t appear much in auctions, and his creations are sought after. His work is closer to that of Jean Vendome in terms of the volume of the pieces and the materials used, even if the designer was a lover of materials from the plant and animal kingdoms. Amber, coral, tortoise shell, tiger shark teeth, nutmeg, armadillo shell, sea urchin quills… The list is endless. And his pieces often require a CITES certificate because of the rare and precious materials they are made of. He joined Patek Philippe in 1955 as a draughtsman and later became head of the workshop. He is a graduate of the École des Arts Industriels in Geneva and of the fine arts in the same city. In the 1960s, he broke free and opened his first boutique. Success followed him to the end. His work is as unique as the majority of his pieces. He is a key figure in international contemporary jewellery. Many try to imitate him but fail.
The rest of the catalogue is composed of sometimes more confidential but equally existing signatures. What is surprising in this collection is the eclecticism of the collector and this is what makes this set perfectly exceptional. You will come across pieces signed by Wolfers, Landuyt, Chopard, Tiffany & Co, Fred, Zolotas… A particular favourite is lot 143, an ebony and gold bracelet signed by Cléto Munari. Choosing is not really possible. Such an ensemble would be perfect in a museum. The pieces will be dispersed on 10 February at 174 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. But you can take advantage of a few days to go and see them. It is necessary. No jewellery lover can miss such a phenomenon. Hats off to ARP Paris, with this first catalogue, you are selling a dream!
See you soon!