On 6 July, the Aguttes auction house will be offering its annual jewellery sale that lights up the start of summer. With 198 lots, the selection of jewelry on offer is as eclectic as it is delightful. Just like every year. The company’s jewelry department has that rare gift of finding very fine pieces, often steeped in lovely stories, often with very nice signatures. And I enjoy discovering them. Between Van Cleef & Arpels, Boivin, Boucheron, Mauboussin and many others, making a choice was not easy. But with these 8 selected lots, I hope to delight your eye and make your heart beat a little faster.
1- A Chaumet bracelet
Lot 47: A platinum and gold, emerald, diamond and enamel “Ribbon” bracelet. Chaumet hallmark, cira 1930. Estimated at 35,000 to 45,000 euros. Photos: Aguttes
For many jewelry lovers, Chaumet is the art of plants. And the company has been sublimating it for a long time in the majority of its creations. But Chaumet is also about tiaras. The brand’s signature jewel, it has created more than 2,000 tiaras since its creation. Most of the great royal and aristocratic families have worn this type of adornment. In addition to romanticism, naturalism and the belle époque, the brand also made a name for itself during the Art Deco period.
In 1925, at the Universal Exhibition, Chaumet unveiled a number of pieces of jewellery that attracted the attention of the press of the day, including Vogue. On 1 September 1925, an article written by Robert Linzeler emphasised the “sumptuous” aspect of a Chaumet tiara, and the advertisements of the time are a perfect illustration of this. This elegant bracelet has been authenticated by the company, which found it in its archives. Made in December 1930, it was the subject of several presentations and was finally sold in December 1944 to a French customer.
2- A Cartier brooch
The style of this rare brooch is clearly surprising. While many jewellers make atypical special orders, this brooch depicting a Sioux Indian clearly stands out from the crowd. When Europeans arrived in North America in the 16th century, they discovered populations they knew nothing about. The images broadcast until the end of the 19th century were mainly imbued with violence, which was to dominate the popular imagination for a long time to come.
Literature, exhibitions, shows such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West developed the interest of the general public, forging the myth of the Far West, far removed from the reality of life for the Amerindian people. In fact, it is the Iakota Sioux Indians who are mostly employed in this show. The “redskins” fascinated audiences and the show also travelled to France. The 1930s saw the emergence of Hollywood, which imposed the imaginary spectacle in the form of films. The Western was born.
In 1935, the Sioux took part in the Brussels World Fair, and in 1938 Paul Coze’s book “L’Oiseau-Tonnerre, paysages & magie peaux-rouges ” was published. But we can also mention ” Terres glacées. With James Evans among the redskins of Hudson Bay”, published the same year. So it’s hardly surprising to find a jewellery brooch inspired by this period.
3- A Mauboussin bracelet
Lot 57: Gold and platinum cuff bracelet with diamonds and rubies. Circa 1938. Unsigned but authenticated by Mauboussin. Estimated at 50,000 to 70,000 euros. Photos: Aguttes
The ” Reflection ” collection is the result of a major partnership that has had a lasting impact on the history of Mauboussin. When Georges Mauboussin decided to introduce his company to the United States, he made the trip in the early 1920s. During the Roaring Twenties, he discovered a dynamic society that enjoyed consuming luxury goods and alcohol despite Prohibition or the “Dry Law” of 1920.
But the stock market crisis of 1929 put a stop to the company’s development in the United States. To continue working, Mauboussin joined forces with Trabert & Hoeffer, signing one of the most beautiful commercial and aesthetic alliances in the history of jewellery. With the advent of Hollywood and its star actresses, the house made them obvious ambassadors.
A bracelet similar to the one on display at Aguttes was given by Charlie Chaplin to his wife Paulette Goddard to console her for not getting the lead role in “Gone with the Wind”. The jewels in the ” Reflection ” collection are among the icons of modern jewellery and shouldn’t be passed up if you like colourful jewellery with a strong style!
4- A Sterlé bracelet
Lot 64: Yellow gold “pompom” bracelet. Sterlé, circa 1946. Estimated at between €5,000 and €8,000. Photo : Aguttes
Pierre Sterlé is my guilty pleasure. I love the jewels in this house all the time. I can’t help but be delighted when I see a piece from his house. His work on birds has left its mark on the world of jewellery, with his faithful rendering of feathers giving them an astonishing reality in metal.
Although he was an excellent jeweler, he was not a good manager, and it was Chaumet that saved the day by buying up his stock in the 1970s. He had worked almost exclusively for Chaumet since the early 1960s. He ended his life with them as a technical adviser. Nicknamed the “couturier of jewelry”, he left his mark on the history of Parisian jewellery, in particular with his refined use of chains and his creations inspired by both trimmings and fabric. Turning a jewel into a garment is a magnificent way of looking at jewellery…
5- A Fred set
Fred… When I hear that name, I think of so many things… the fascinating biography ” Mémoires d’un joaillier ” originally published in 1992 and republished in 2022 to mark the first exhibition around the house’s heritage, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman that I saw over and over again when I was a teenager. So this so 80s set was bound to appeal to me. Perhaps because it takes me back to the brand’s delightful adverts featuring Françoise Guérin in the late 70s. If you like jewellery that’s out of the ordinary, whose allure you’ll remember, this set will, I hope, appeal to you as much as it does to me.
6- A Boucheron military brooch
Lot 125: Gold and platinum “military insignia” brooch. Boucheron. Sapphire, ruby and diamond. Estimated at between €6,000 and €8,000. Photo : Aguttes
I’ve always loved jewelry that tells stories. I like jewelry to be a marker of time and a marker of its era. I appreciate that it embraces the political role it can play, and I’m sensitive to the way it bears witness to the great events of our time. This special order represents a badge of the 24th Battalion of Chasseurs, also known as the 24th BCA.
Its history began in 1851 and in 1859, during the Battle of Solferino, the battalion took a flag from the enemy and was awarded the Legion of Honour in Milan by the Emperor. This unit, which was disbanded in 1991, took part in several major conflicts, including the Rif War and the First and Second World Wars. Several insignia existed: a cockerel in a horn; an escutcheon combining the marabout, the Legion of Honour, the Marshal’s baton and the eagle in the horn; the imperial eagle with the Austrian flag taken at Solferino (this is the jewel on display at Aguttes) and, once again, the cockerel in a horn. If you have a passion for military objects, don’t miss this brooch.
7 & 8 – From the Van Cleef & Arpels and René Boivin archives
Lot 197: Van Cleef & Arpels design lot. 1930s/1940s. Estimated between €1,500 and €2,000. Photo : Aguttes
Lot 198: Drawing lot “Starfish”, René Boivin. Estimated at between €1,500 and €2,000. Photos : Aguttes
Drawing is an essential element in the creation of a piece of jewelry. Whether it is at the origin of the project or is used to keep a trace of a finished piece of jewelry, the drawing is always present. While it has long been neglected, it is now collected and particularly prized at auctions. Two very fine exhibitions have also been devoted to him in recent years: at the Piscine and at L’École des arts joailliers.
To close the sale on 6 July, Aguttes is offering these two lots. The first lot (197) features jewellery by Van Cleef & Arpels dating from the 30s and 40s. The pieces are superb and the designs are of the highest quality. The second lot (198) is more unusual in that it features gouaches of the “Starfish” model designed by Juliette Moutard for René Boivin in 1935. The first jewel was created in 1937 for the actress Claudette Colbert. Set with rubies and amethysts, the brooch is now preserved and on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to handle a ” starfish ” brooch by the Boivin house when it appeared at auction at Chayette & Cheval. At the time, I was blown away by the quality of the workmanship and the remarkable volume of this now iconic piece of jewellery. This last point allows me to remind you that a book on the House of Boivin is in preparation and will be published in 2025. We can’t wait!
See you soon!