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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Antiquorum – established in 1974, Geneva – is well known for its niche in the auction world by offering collectors’ timepieces worldwide. Now the auction house has stepped in a new territory with its first jewellery auction. We visited them prior the 11 November sale.

UPDATE – You can see all the results of the auction here.

After decades of successful watch sales, Romain Rea (CEO of Antiquorum) and his team decided to organise their very first jewellery auction – Important Modern & Vintage Jewels on 11 November at Beau Rivage in Geneva. The 170 lots include a great variety from the history of fine jewellery – you can find daintily decorated hair combs or belt buckles from the 1830’s, great Art Nouveau or Art Deco jewels, Mauboussin or Cartier pieces from the 1950-60’s or more recent creations from Chopard or Repossi. 

We had a great time at the Geneva showroom at rue du Mont-Blanc and shot a few pieces at the busy preview – please follow us along. 

Lot 729 – Brooch by Georges Fouquet

Art Nouveau, also known as the Secession or Jugendstil was an international philosophy, architectural, applied and decorative art style, most popular between 1890 and 1910. This period was also called the Belle Époque or the Golden Age. Taking inspiration from the special shapes and motifs of nature, Art Nouveau influenced art and architecture and especially the applied arts, objects, graphic works and illustration. 

Georges Fouquet was a great French jewellery designer best known for his Art Nouveau creations. He was born in 1862 and died in 1957, thus he lived through the industrialisation of Europe, the turn of the century and both World Wars. His father Alphonse had a jewellery business which he took over in 1895 and opened a new boutique at 6 Rue Royale in Paris. At the end of the century he worked in collaboration with the artist Alphonse Mucha – the Czech painter and illustrator, one of the most important figures of the Art Nouveau. Mucha also designed the new boutique for Fouquet – ‘he conceived the shop as a complete work of art, which would provide a harmonious environment for Fouquet’s jewellery’. 

The duo executed many important commissions together for the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt amongst others and presented pieces at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900. 

As opposed to his iconic contemporary glass artist René Lalique, Fouquet used strong, geometric Art Deco designs more frequently. His works were mainly composed of gold and embellished with enamel, opals, horn and pearls. 

Lot 729 is a 5.5mm gold brooch from the 1900’s with two eagles facing back-to-back, a triangular sugarloaf peridot and a baroque shaped natural pearl. The piece is signed on the back: G.Fouquet. 

Lot 752 – Turquoise ring by Sterlé

Sterlé is not a household name, but undeservedly. He was an amazing French jeweller and created some of the most collectible pieces from the 20th century. Pierre Sterlé (1905-1978) was born into a family of financiers. He learned the profession from his uncle, Maynier-Pincon, a Parisian jeweller. 

At a young age, in 1934 he opened his own workshop on Rue St-Anne. Some of Paris’s finest jewellers patronised him, including Boucheron or Chaumet.Laterhe moved to an upstairs, by-appointment-only atelier at 43 Avenue de l’Opera near the Place Vendôme – the place to be, for high jewellery artists. 

He loved fluid, organic designs and his motifs included flowers, birds and feathers, ribbons and tassels. He was also renowned for his exceptional techniques; treating metal as if it were fabric – twisting, bending and knotting the gold. He created a special gold wire in 1957, called ‘angel wire’ (‘fil d’ange’).

Due to his financial difficulties he sold his stock in 1976, mostly to Chaumet. Sterlé joined the Chaumet Masion as a technical consultant, remaining with them until his death in 1978.

Lot 752 is a signature piece from Sterlé from the 1960’s – a gold ring with an organic flower-shaped motif, decorated with cabochon turquoises, surrounded by sapphires and diamond-set leaves. 

The signed ring is featured in the book of Viviane Jutheau (Editions Vecteurs, Sterlé Joaillier Paris). 

Lot 752 Turquoise ring by Sterlé
Lot 752 Turquoise ring by Sterlé

Lot 807 – Bulgari/Bvlgari enamel set

I bought the album ‘Bulgari: From 1884 to 2009: 125 Years of Italian Jewels’ (edited by Amanda Triossi) some time ago. Flipping through it highlights Bulgari’s signature use of colours, emblematic shapes, gemstones, multi-hued jewels, gold coins and serpent motifs. The House was founded by Sotirio Bulgari (originally Constantine Sotirios Boulgaris), who started his career in Greece and Corfu. Later he moved to Italy and opened the flagship boutique in Via dei Condotti in 1905 in Rome. The extensive history of Bulgari was accompanied by great actresses, stars and socialites including Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Princess Salimah Aga Khan or maybe most famously Elizabeth Taylor. All adored the imposing and grandiose designs. 

Lot 807 – which is on the cover of the Antiquorum jewellery auction catalogue – is slightly more low-key than most of the well knowned pieces of the brand. The signed Bvlgari enamel jewellery set from the 1970’s includes a sautoir necklace, a ring and earrings. All on gold, decorated with black and golden yellow enamel motifs and diamonds. It is a pronounced piece but with a comfortable and really wearable design. 

Lot 807 Bvlgari enamel set
Lot 807 Bvlgari enamel set

Lot 815 – Aldo Cipullo

Maison Cartier has iconic designs, both timepieces and jewellery; let it be the Panthère pieces, the Trinity ring, the LOVE and Juste un Clou collections. But do you know who is behind many of these designs? 

Aldo Cipullo (1942-1984) was an Italian-born American jewellery designer; he practiced his profession at his father’s silver and jewellery workshop in Florence. In 1959 he moved to New York and worked with Tiffany & Co. and David Webb. He joined Cartier in 1969, where he created -among others – two of the most recognisable lines of the Maison: the LOVE bracelet and the Nail. It is a simple yet very strong design: a bracelet which is formed as a single bent nail wraps around the wrist. 

In 2012 the French jewellery house dedicated the ‘New York City in the 70s’ exhibition to the company’s icons, including Aldo Cipullo’s nail bracelet and re-released it with a line called Juste un Clou in yellow, white and pink gold and special versions pave-set entirely with diamonds. 

Aldo Cipullo Nail bracelet
Aldo Cipullo Nail bracelet, gold, 1971, signed Cipullo

Lot 815 is from 1971, it is a sleek gold jewel with the original design and signed by Cipullo – a super stylish accessory both women and men. 

‘Design has to be part of function,’ he said in an interview. ‘That’s the secret of success. When you have function and design, married together, you always have a successful item.’

Other fantastic pieces

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