In the Right Light

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Looking west across the East Meadow in Central Park. 8:13 AM. Photo: JH.

Monday, November 18, 2019. Bright sunny Saturday with temps reaching up to the low 50s, then grey, sunless Sunday with temps in the high 30s to the low 40s and gusts of chill wind passing through. Ten days til Turkey Day when the end of the year holidays begin.

You may have noticed the advertisement on the site for the sale of California Jewelry at 10 a.m. this morning at Doyle auction galleries at 175 East 87th Street (between Lexington and Third).

Not being a connoisseur of gems and jewels but once upon a time an aficionado (and resident) of California, I was curious about what comprised the category. And so last week I went over to Doyle where its vice-president Louis Webre introduced me to Nan Summerfield, Doyle’s Senior VP, and director of their California Operations in Beverly Hills.

Nan is a California native and so she understood my curiosity as to what were the differences between West and East when it comes to jewelry. Most women (and men) who are in the business grasp it immediately, as did I, when Nan explained. It’s the “light” and the “lifestyle.” 

Those of us who have lived or traveled to the land by the Pacific get the “light.” It was definitely a major factor in my own fascination with the state: everything looks better. It’s simply Mother Nature’s touch.  The second is naturally the lifestyle. Everything is more casual mainly because of the light and the climate. All of which influence the way people dress (generally more relaxed and casual), although it’s a matter of an individual’s taste and style, as well as financial access.

Today’s sale includes 540 pieces from 71 designers and purveyors including those names I am familiar with – as a non-collector:  Audemars Piguet, Louis Aucoc, Belperron, Boucheron, Buccellati, Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet, Angela Cummings, Tony Duquette, Jean Fouquet, Gubellin, Gucci, Hermes, Hublot, Jaeger, Georg Jensen, Kieselstein-Cord, Lalounis, Rene Lalique, Marchak, Marina B. Mauboussin, Mikimoto, Oscar Heyman Brothers, Pantera, Perregaux, Piaget, Paloma Picasso, Judith Ripka, Rolex, Schlumberger, Shreve, Tiffany, Van Cleef, Verdura, David Webb.  

Meeting Nan Summerfield, I explained my ignorance about the subject itself, and selection habits of a California collector/buyer.  She confirmed the obvious. The “light” flatters and enhances colors and the climate encourages a more relaxed atmosphere. Jewelry is a very natural accessory in both the daylight night time hours. The costume is often colorful and lighter weight and so the accessories stand out a complementing the look. 

She brought out some of her favorite pieces including the Art Nouveau Gold, Platinum, Carved Moonstone, Diamond, Pearl and Plique-a-Jour Pendent with Chain by Louis Aucoc.

Lot 519. Art Nouveau Gold, Platinum, Carved Moonstone, Diamond, Pearl and Plique-à-Jour Pendant with Chain, Louis Aucoc, France. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000.

The 18 kt pendant-necklace centers a serene carved moonstone female face surround by flowing tendrils of gold hair against the backdrop of a multicolored plique-a-jour enamel dragon-fly  wings, topped by a spray composed of 5 pearl-topped, diamond set foliate top, all backed by a scalloped gold floral detailed arch. The bottom suspending 3 platinum-topped gold & diamond-set drops, completed by a gold cable link chain with a gold, platinum & diamond female figure slide pendant, 47 old European, single & rose-cut diamonds, with maker’s  mark & French assay, c. 1895. Length 22 inches.

Louis Aucoc (1850-1932) was a talented Art Nouveau jeweler who was the first employer of Rene Lalique. Lalique’s father died in 1876 and the he was forced to leave school to make a living, joining Aucoc as his apprentice until 1878.  A leader in the Art Nouveau movement, Louis Aucoc participated in exhibitions beginning in 1878. He was the third generation of a family firm founded in 1821. His father also Louis Aucoc, a goldsmith, took over the first in 1854, adding jewelry to the silversmithing business.  Louis Aucoc Jr. later passed the family business on to his son Georges after he retired in 1907. The Aucoc house continued until the mid-1920s.

Another item from the collection that Nan brought out was this large Art Moderne Gold, Silver, Black Onyx and Diamond Jabot by Jean Fouquet of France. This 18 karat, rare 3 dimensional design of overlapping layers of gold, onyx, silver circles and semi-circles with elongated triangular slices is set with 29 old European, rose and single-cut diamonds approximately 1.50 cts., and signed Jean Fouquet, no. 11369, with French assay mark, circa 1935, ap. 30.4 dwts; Length 5 ¼ inches. Property from an important Jewel Collector … $15,000 – 20,000.

Lot 540. Important Large Art Moderne Gold, Silver, Black Onyx and Diamond Jabot, Jean Fouquet, France. Estimate: $15,000 – $20,000.

Then there was the Gold and Ruby Snail Shell Pill Box. 18 kt. With one round cabochon ruby with maker’s mark obscured and French export mark no. 7834, c 1968, ap. 28.1 dwt. A similar model can be found in the book Set In Style; the Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.

I had my eye on it when Nan put on the table, wondering “what” this gold snail shell was. And then she turned it over and turned the cap (snail entrance) which came off and there was the room for the pills.

Lot 465. Gold and Ruby Snail Shell Pill Box. Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000.

The catalogue is filled with these treasures. What captures my fascination is the variety created and produced by those men and women who are the designers obsessed like all true artists are with their work, as well as the personalities who are drawn to them for their rarity. 

The other night I had dinner with a friend who was telling me about a once very famous singer who post-career had three marriages, all with very rich men. One night when my friend was visiting her, and the conversation diverted to jewelry, her hostess stopped and said “come with me.”

Today’s sale includes 540 pieces from 71 designers and purveyors. Something for everyone, no doubt.

She led my friend down a hallway to a room that was her safe: a ten foot high wall of drawers which when opened one by one, were perfectly organized, loaded with gems – one for sapphires, one for diamonds, one for rubies, one for emeralds, and on and on.  

My friend was speechless, agog with wonder at the sight of her friend’s massive collection – treasures really – all gifts acquired over the decades by her devoted husbands. 

This is the season for these auctions. Doyle has two more auctions of jewelry coming up including The Mollie Brewster Broussard Collection coming up December 12th with exhibition beginning December 7th. Another fascinating story told in 491 lots. We’ll be back with that soon.

From the The Mollie Brewster Broussard Collection on December 12th: Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Ruby Lioness Bangle Bracelet, David Webb. Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000.

Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach tomorrow night, November 19th, interior designer amd gallerist Jennifer Garrigues is presenting Alternative Reality: Venice and Palm Beach as the season’s opening show at her Studio Gallery on Peruvian Avenue, marking the return of New York Social Diary columnist and photographer Augustus Mayhew.

Venice’s Carnevale and Palm Beach gardens are among the subjects for the showcase’s visual and conceptual perspectives on these ultimate destinations, best known for indulging in the pursuit of leisure, worldly trappings, and unrestrained pleasure.

Jennifer Garrigues’ design studio exhibits artworks and artisan jewelry as well as furniture, accessories, and antiques, collected from the world’s souks and bazaars. Honored with a Star of Design Award, Ms. Garrigues — or Jenny as she is known to friend — is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).

The Social Register, 2019. Venice. 30 x 24. Hahnemuhle Bamboo Fine Art Paper Print.

Palm Beach, July 1922

“Paris Singer is popularizing gondolas … so that guests could step onto boats of that type at their home and be delivered from it to the clubhouse for at both buildings landing places will be provided …”

The Gilded Age, 2019. Venice. 30 x 24. Canson Platine Fine Art Paper Print.
Eternal Spring, 2019. 20 x 24. Palm Beach Garden Series.
Chilean Summer II, 2019. 24 x 20. Palm Beach Garden Series.

Marsena Robert, Palm Beach, c. 1890.

“I was strongly reminded of Venice when I first visited Palm Beach … by the absence of horses, carriages, wagons and the noise of wheels of any kind. All was quiet and peaceful … The music on the water in the evening is also a reminder of Venice … tuneful ballads float through the air to the accompaniment of guitar, mandolin and banjo.”

Torch Ginger, 2019. 24 x 20. Palm Beach Garden Series.
Facades, 2019. Venice. 30 x 24. Canson Platine Fine Art Paper Print.

Palm Beach, February 1920.

“No more wonderful setting for a Venetian Fete, outside Venice’s canals and vias, could possibly be imagined than the Everglades Club, with its divine setting among tropical foliage, flowering plants, and orange trees in this little corner of Palm Beach, so much like the dream city.”

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