Bonhams London - An Art Deco aquamarine and diamond necklace, by Cartier,
Auctions Bonhams

Bonhams London Jewels Sales – results

An Art Deco necklace by Cartier sells for £459,000 after a bidding war.

A spectacular Art Deco Aquamarine and Diamond necklace by Cartier was among the highlights of the sale in London.

Cartier & Art Deco

Bonhams London - An Art Deco aquamarine and diamond necklace, by Cartier
Bonhams London – An Art Deco aquamarine and diamond necklace, by Cartier, circa 1940. The highly articulated collar of geometric design, graduating in size from the centre, the front swag set with vari-cut aquamarines and pavé-set brilliant-cut diamond sculptural motif highlights with brilliant-cut diamond accents, suspended from a row of rectangular-step cut aquamarines, mounted in platinum, central shield-shaped frontispiece detaches and may be worn as a clip, aquamarines approximately 169.85 carats total, diamonds approximately 9.64 carats total, signed Cartier London.

This Cartier Art Deco Aquamarine and Diamond necklace, dated circa 1940, triples its pre-sale estimate, selling for £459,000.

The necklace is highly articulated and geometrical in design, set with nearly 170 carats of matched aquamarines. This jewel is a perfect example of Cartier’s late Art Deco style, for which the French jeweller is internationally recognised, and sparked an international bidding war during the sale.

From the 1930s Cartier used aquamarines in their designs. This necklace is a magnificent example of how the Maison elevated the transparent pale-blue gem to the forefront of contemporary high jewellery design.

Emily Barber, Bonhams UK Jewellery Director

Another set of objects that attracted interest during the sale was an important collection of 23 clocks, of which 22 were by Cartier and mainly from the Art Deco period.

What makes these clocks interesting is the fact that almost all of them dated from 1908 until the end of Art Deco (therefore 1920s) and they represent the highest in luxury, elegance and craftsmanship that Cartier was associated with at the time. The ‘mystery clock’ technique is one of the French jeweller’s signatures, by the way, in watchmaking.

These creations represent a technical and aesthetic tour de force in the history of both the Maison and of the decorative arts. These “marvels of horology” as described by the Gazette du Bon Ton in 1925, conceived by Louis Cartier and the Maison’s clockmaker Maurice Coüet, were also inspired by the work of illusionist Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. The first model came to life in 1912, and the Maison’s production of the mystery clock continues to this day.

Bonhams London – An Art Deco rock crystal, gold, agate, enamel and diamond-set ‘Mystery Clock’, by Cartier, 1919. Sold for £603,062.
The rectangular rock crystal case and rounded stepped pediment with bombé sides and bevelled edges, the double-sided white enamel frame applied with gold laurel leaf decoration, the annular chapter ring with Roman numerals interspersed with fleurette motifs, to an inner rose-cut diamond border and rose-cut diamond hands, on an agate base accented with rose-cut diamonds and gold beadwork, the pediment a later replacement, base and movement signed Cartier.

Important Provenance prove to be of high interest to collectors

It is a matter of fact that jewels become highly interesting when they come with an important provenance.

The proof is that jewels from the collection of Vita Sackville-West exceeded pre-sale estimates, and jewels from Barbara Taylor Bradford attracted global media interest – and they were all sold.

Bonhams London – Art Deco carved emerald, rock crystal and diamond pendant, possibly by Cartier, 1912. Sold for £102,562. Set with a large cushion-shaped emerald tablet (cracked), engraved front and back with Indian floral motifs, within a frame of frosted rock crystal, engraved in similar taste, decorated with old brilliant and single-cut diamonds, surmounted by an engraved rock crystal and diamond fountain motif, on a long black cord necklace with rose-cut diamond clasp and two rock crystal barrel-shaped slides of floral and fluted decoration and rose-cut diamond finials.

The large 99-carat Mughal emerald tablet, carved on both sides, is set in a surround of engraved frosted rock crystal decorated with diamonds.  Made in 1912, it is a very rare and a very early example of Cartier’s glamorous jewels in the “Maharajah” style.  It was sold to Lady Sackville who gave it to her daughter, Vita Sackville-West, on her engagement to Harold Nicholson in 1913.  

The jewel has been in the Sackville family for more than 100 years and has not been seen for more than 50 years.  Vita Sackville-West’s granddaughter Vanessa Nicholson explains: “My grandmother loved dressing up and going to balls.  In the early 1960s shortly before she died, Vita gave my mother some of her jewels. For security reasons we held them in a bank vault so I like to think of this emerald necklace as a lost jewel now coming back into the light.”

The jewels offered by Bonhams and coming from Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE’s collection were all from her 55-year long marriage to Hollywood movie producer Bob Bradford. For this, these jewels also have a high sentimental value.

Bonhams London. A fancy-coloured diamond and diamond ring
The radiant-cut diamond, weighing 11.30 carats, of yellow tint, between demi-lune diamond shoulders. Sold for £96,312.

In Mrs Taylor Bradford’s own words:

“One of Bob’s favourite places to lie in the sun was Capri in Italy. He also liked it for another reason… the many fine jewellery shops! His favourite was a lovely boutique called Alberto e Lina. According to Bob, they truly had the best collection of fine jewellery and watches. This is where he bought me the 11.30-carat yellow diamond ring flanked by diamond baguettes. He had secretly been to purchase it without my knowing and, just before we went to lunch, he took hold of my hand, kissed it and slipped on the ring which he took out of his pocket. I was amazed and speechless when I saw it gleaming on my hand. I stood up and kissed him on the cheek and exclaimed, “It’s a real Bobby Dazzler!” Bob smiled that lovely smile of his and replied, “I’m glad you love it as much as I do”. I wore the ring for many, many years but for the last few years, I reverted to my sapphire engagement ring. It’s too gorgeous a diamond to sit in the safe and I want someone else to enjoy it as much as I have.”

These wonderful pieces of jewellery really deserve to be worn and enjoyed as much as I have over the years. I hope they make the new owners as happy as they made myself and Bob.

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE

And so do we.

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