The gold nuggets of the next Aguttes sale

Mar 25, 2022

Spring has officially begun and with it comes the excitement of the beautiful auctions that will be held until the end of May. God, I love this season when wonders are unveiled and jewels seem to wake up from a long winter. To open this season, I am starting with Aguttes, which will shortly, on Thursday 31 March, be offering a sale worthy of the season that is beginning. With 184 very different lots, it is a catalogue as I like them. With surprises, with exceptional pieces, with atypical jewels, with pieces with stories, with hallmarks unknown to the general public. So when the jewellery department asked me to make a selection, I didn’t hesitate. And I embarked on this exercise that I love, namely to present you the jewels that seduced me the most to give you, I hope, the desire to raise the bidding!

Lot 1: Yellow gold and diamond bracelet. Two removable clips. A third one must have existed when the bracelet was created. They allow the engravings to be made discreet, namely “René”, a count’s crown and “Bertrand”. Estimate between 2000 and 3000 euros.

I have a passion for jewels that tell family stories even if it is complicated to decipher them if nobody explains the ins and outs of the conception of a jewel. Here, this bracelet was supposed to have three brooches. Only two remain. Three flowers, therefore, in gold and diamonds, designed to be positioned on the three engravings: two names René and Bertrand as well as a count’s crown recognisable by the nine pearls that cover it. As it is a woman’s jewel, one can imagine many things. Is it about two sons? Her husband and her son? A count’s title acquired by marriage? As we will certainly never know, I would like to dwell on the delicacy of the manufacture. The bracelet is as sober as it is beautiful. As for the two brooches, they are remarkably well made and in very good condition. The piece may not have been worn much. The old cut diamonds are reminiscent of family stones that have been reassembled. So if you like jewellery puzzles, this bracelet has many stories to tell.

Lot 17: Gold and silver ivy set, then platinum and silver, all set with old and rose cut diamonds. 19th century work but with 20th century modifications. Estimate between 4000 and 6000 euros.

When this piece was created, I suppose it was a corsage front. Or a wedding basket. Although this set has undergone some modifications, it is still superb. I say potential wedding basket because ivy is a fitting symbol for this occasion. A symbol of attachment, friendship, fidelity, and even of being anchored in a long life, ivy has long been a favourite motif of jewellers. A signature motif of the Boucheron house, we cannot ignore the 19th century pieces signed Oscar Massin or Paul Frey. Ivy was also a regular inspiration in Art Nouveau jewellery. If this set does not have a hallmark, the manufacture is meticulous and mastered. You can feel the hand of a fine workshop. Look at the position and the blooming of the leaves, the “sun” bezels that highlight the solitary diamonds like so many dewdrops… The beauty of a piece of jewellery depends on very little.

Lot 18: Yellow gold bracelet, fine pearls, amethysts, enamel. French work from the 19th century. Estimate between 1200 and 1500 euros

This French 19th century piece has very specific colours. While the combination of green, purple and white is reminiscent of the English suffragettes, the motifs and colours of this bracelet also refer to the passion flower, whose symbolism (given by the Jesuits) is associated with the passion of Christ. The movement for women’s suffrage began in the mid-19th century but grew from the end of that century to the beginning of the 20th. The appearance of these three colours actually dates from the 1870s when jewellery in these contrasting colours began to be seen during the Napoleon III and Victorian eras. In 2008, Sotheby’s sold a large bodice front with these colours. And it was not yet a symbol for the right to vote, but perhaps it was an expression of assertive feminism. For purple has long been the symbol of feminists. And yet it is far from being an insignificant colour because it was associated with royalty, the clergy, and then with mourning or penitence. In short, a colour of submission to a patriarchal society. A man’s colour. We can therefore better understand the adoption of this colour by those women who will allow the crucial evolution of our rights. For my part, I suggest you see the symbolism you want: religious or feminist, even if I prefer the second.

Lot 20: Yellow gold, amethyst and pearl clover set. French work, Napoleon III period. Estimate between 2000 and 2500 euros. Lot 21: A yellow gold, old and rose-cut diamonds and amethyst brooch. Estimate between 2000 and 3000 euros.

Do you like Napoleon III like me? As a general rule, I really like jewellery from this period. They are opulent, loaded, with often contrasting colours, sometimes violent and strong. It is the period of black, blood red, purple, tortoiseshell, ebony, enamels with saturated hues. The craftsmen and artists of this period drew on previous eras and joyfully mixed all these inspirations to create a very particular style. The jewellers were not to be outdone. Under the impetus of the Emperor and his wife Eugenie, the workshops produced and fulfilled orders that were sometimes crazy. The Empress set the fashion and it was fashionable to follow and imitate her. Amethyst was one of the materials that became popular with the elegant. But what about the clover? The story goes that Eugenie de Montijo marvelled at this plant during a walk with Napoleon in Compiègne. The year was 1852. A few days later, Napoleon bought a gold, diamond and emerald clover brooch from Fossin (now Chaumet). The following year he married her. For the rest of her life, she would wear this jewel, which was called the “Compiègne clover” and which became a symbol of this love story. Here the manufacture is very careful and the shape of the amethysts is really surprising for the time. This is certainly what makes this set as precious as it is striking. As for the second proposal, although different, it also bears witness to a careful manufacture and a widely assumed opulence.

Lot 39: Gold and silver bracelet, 19th century work, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, fine pearls. Estimate between 3000 and 5000 euros

If there is one skill that characterises France, it is high jewellery. No country in the world, with the exception of France, talks about jewellery. Elsewhere, it is always jewellery to which qualifiers are attributed to differentiate the styles: “couture” for costume jewellery, “high-end” for fine jewellery, often with diamonds, “studio” for jewellery created by recognised designers… This piece, decorated with peacocks, is also symptomatic of the very beautiful productions of French workshops in the 19th century. Since 1867 and the famous feather created by Mellerio, this motif symbolising immortality has been used in profusion in jewellery production. The colours of this bracelet inevitably conjure up the imaginary world of this bird, whose feathers have fascinated people for centuries. The suppleness of this jewel is remarkable, the back of the piece testifies to a high quality workshop. Did you admire the regularity of the updates? Take my word for it, this is an exemplary achievement. In conclusion, a piece that cannot be passed up.

Lot 58: Frill pin circa 1925 symbolising a fir tree. Platinum, gold, diamonds, emeralds and enamel. Estimate between 2000 and 2500 euros.

Passionate about potted plants? Then this jewel is for you. During the art deco period, these pins representing plants, trees and shrubs in pots were a huge success and it’s normal. The rediscovery of Japan and the Asian imaginary populate the creations of the great jewellers. Among the references, the bonsai. The first dwarf trees were presented in France during the Universal Exhibitions of 1878 and 1889. The first French book on the subject dates from 1902. And these trees caused a sensation in London at the 1910 Japanese-English exhibition. This dreamed-of Asia, even fantasised about, was then everywhere. And bonsai trees inevitably found a place of choice. And this jewel is simply magnificent. And when they are not bonsai, they are trees in pots inspired by those that populate the English and French gardens, also inspired by the spring on the Riviera. These trees are kept in winter gardens and are dressed in rattan or enamelled pots of all colours. Birds, then, can find a little place there…

Lot 60: Gold, diamond and jadeite brooch by Suzanne Belperron. Circa 1937. Estimate between 4800 and 5000 euros.

What would a fine Aguttes sale be without the presence of Suzanne Belperron? An obvious lack! Hence my interest in this gold and jadeite brooch with water lilies. Jade pieces by the famous jewellery designer are not so common in auctions where we are more used to her compositions with volumes and singular gemstones. This unusual piece of jewellery nevertheless tells of the luxurious sobriety of the woman who left a major mark on modern jewellery. The modernist style of this brooch is everywhere in this jewel where the influence of Art Deco is still expressed. If you are looking for a beautiful signed piece, this jewel is sure to please you!

Lot 102: René Boivin gold, diamond and peridot brooch. Partially legible Roger Davière hallmark. Circa 1970. Estimated at 12,000 to 15,000 euros

There is only one step from a Belperron piece to René Boivin, as it is in this house that the designer made her first steps. Boivin is a permanent firework display in the world of fine jewellery. Whatever the period, their creations never resemble those of other houses. They are unique in the shapes, volumes, colours, and fabulous signatures that have populated the history of the house. This clip is no exception. It is opulent, imposing, colourful, joyful, magnificent, desirable. It is Boivin in all its definition. And for this piece, it is based on a drawing by Juliette Moutard, one of the company’s prolific designers. There’s no need for a lot of talk about this house, so don’t think too much and just go for it. Jewellery of this type does not often come up for auction.

Lot 118: Gold and aluminium earrings signed JAR. Estimate between 4000 and 6000 euros.

It would be pointless to talk about JAR at length, as the jeweller’s pieces are so popular when they appear at auction. His silence and discretion have become his mode of communication. JAR exists only through its creations. Long known for his grandiose creations, he has sought to make them lighter and more wearable. And he quickly used silver, aluminium and then titanium to replace gold and platinum, which were far too heavy. Coloured aluminium pieces appeared in the 2000s. In 2002, an exhibition that will leave its mark on everyone’s mind presented 400 pieces of jewellery signed by the designer. We are at Somerset House in London. To thank the 145 customers who had lent him their money, he sent them “Pansy” earrings in coloured aluminium. He had another 1000 made for visitors to the exhibition who wanted to buy one in the museum shop. Within a few days, they became unobtainable. This is a testament to the popularity of the enigmatic jeweller Joël Arthur Rosenthal. So, don’t delay too long, a pair has just appeared and I have no doubt that it will fly to a new owner. Perhaps you who are reading me.

Lot 159: Gold and platinum brooch, diamonds, emerald and coral. French work by Georland. Estimate between 7500 and 8000 euros.

I close this selection with this brooch. A bird, typical of the animal brooches of the 60s. I like everything here, the materials, the movements, the texture of the gold. And the hallmark. There are no big houses behind this piece, but a workshop of unparalleled discretion whose know-how has been recognised by the greatest brands of the Place Vendôme, to name but a few. Founded in 1954 by Henri Marteau, the Georland workshop was hidden just a few metres from the Golden Square of French jewellery. In the 1980s, it manufactured almost exclusively for Fred. A workshop that remained family-run until it closed in the mid-2010s. Unknown to the general public before emerging from the shadows in 2011, the in-house jewellers also made jewellery for an elegant and refined private clientele. This bird is a testament to that. Georland, for me, is a bit of a madeleine too. I enjoyed working for them as a subcontractor and I always loved the pieces they entrusted to the workshop where I was an apprentice at the time. From the bygone era of these great family workshops, there remain some superb, sometimes and often iconic pieces of jewellery. This bird is going to fly away, but I’ll put it in my jewellery box. Wouldn’t you?

See you soon!


marie chabrol

Hello my name Is Marie. Speaker, consultant & teacher, I write with passion about the world of jewelry.

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