Antique Jewelry & Gemology
On February 22, Doyle New York gave us hope that winter would eventually come to an end in the form of its fine jewelry sale, the catalog for which was graced with colorful pieces of jewelry in bright spring colors. Featuring jewelry from the collections of Mrs. Herman (Betty Sarah Brown) Wouk and Anne R. Lichtblau, the auction included a broad spectrum of offerings “with more moderate estimates than in the Important Jewelry sales,” according to Doyle.
Mrs. Wouk was born in Grangeville, Idaho, in 1920. She was married to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk (b. 1915). According to Doyle, after graduating from the University of Southern California, Brown was employed as a civilian personnel officer with the United States Navy during World War II. She met Herman Wouk “while his ship was being overhauled at the San Pedro Navy Yard in California, and they were married less than a week after he returned from the sea at the war’s end.” She was her husband’s literary agent from 1979 until she passed away in 2011.
The Wouks spent their lives together in New York, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C., and finally in Palm Springs, California. The jewelry in this sale included “pieces she wore during her years in Washington, where, in addition to attending several White House dinners, she frequently hosted evenings in her Georgetown home attended by such eminent guests as Yitzhak Rabin, William Safire, Eric Sevareid, Henry Fonda, Herblock, and countless others.”
Several antique pieces from the Wouk collection sold above high estimates. A pair of circa 1870 gold pendant earrings brought $2250 (includes buyer’s premium), above the estimate of $500/700. A circa 1840 gilt-metal and green chrysoprase demi-parure, with a necklace, pair of pendant earrings, and a brooch, sold for $4062 (est. $200/300), and a circa 1850 silver, gold, amethyst/diamond, and semi-baroque button and split pearl pendant/brooch realized $1750 (est. $600/800).
This pair of platinum and diamond pendant earrings was from the Wouk collection. Measuring 1½" x ¾" (width of bows), the pair consists of 22 round and 72 baguette diamonds weighing approximately 2.15 carats, 16 marquise-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.50 carats, and two pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.25 carats. They sold for $16,250 (est. $6000/8000). Doyle New York.
Anne Lichtblau was born Gladys Anne Simmonds Rahiser in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She met George Jay Lichtblau, who was a fiberoptic industry pioneer, when she was studying at Simmons College in Boston. There she developed a passion for music and art that was the impetus for a lifetime of engagement and philanthropy in that realm.
According to Doyle, Anne and George Lichtblau “devoted themselves to entertaining friends and family and to their philanthropies.”
It was the colorful contemporary jewelry from the Lichtblau collection that lured us to view the sale—three pairs of ear clips graced the cover of the catalog. A pair of white gold, tanzanite, aquamarine, and diamond ear clips brought $6875 (est. $2000/3000); a pair of “Shine LTD” two-color gold, pink tourmaline, diamond, and aquamarine pendant ear clips sold for $7500 (est. $3000/4000); and a pair of two-color gold, pink tourmaline, citrine, and diamond pendant ear clips realized $2125 (est. $1500/2000).
This two-color gold (18k yellow and white gold), carved coral, diamond, and cabochon emerald animal bangle bracelet was the top lot of the Doyle sale. With 152 round and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 5.10 carats and two pear-shaped and 11 round cabochon emeralds, it realized $23,750 (est. $10,000/15,000). Doyle New York.
A couple of antique lots from the Lichtblau collection sold within presale estimates. A pair of circa 1915 platinum and diamond ear clips brought $3437 (est. $2500/3500), and a circa 1920 platinum and diamond brooch realized $2500 (est. $2000/3000).
Doyle’s April 27 jewelry sale will include additional jewelry from the Lichtblau collection. Go to the website (www.doyle.com) to browse the online catalog.
This circa 1900 gold, platinum, tourmaline, sapphire, and diamond cross pendant/brooch, measuring 2 5/8" x 1 11/16", realized $6875 (est. $1000/1500). Doyle New York.
One of the top lots at the Doyle auction was this circa 1915 platinum and diamond ring with two old-mine-cut diamonds weighing 2.84 carats and 2.69 carats. It brought $18,750 (est. $8000/12,000). Doyle New York.
This 2 7/16 " x 3¾" silver, gold, and diamond butterfly brooch with two cushion-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.70 carats, one old European-cut diamond weighing approximately .90 carat, and old-mine and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 8.00 carats sold for $10,000 (est. $6000/8000). Doyle New York.
Skinner jewelry specialist and auctioneer John Colasacco opened the fine jewelry auction on March 21 with the 84-lot collection of Leah Gordon.
Gordon opened her business, Leah Gordon Antiques, in New York City in 1988, after a 28-year career as an arts reporter for Time magazine, and, according to Skinner, “It was during those years that she gathered her love and deep knowledge of art, interviewing and writing about the famous artists of the 20th century, including Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol and many others.” After she left Time, she studied appraising decorative arts at New York University. Among her specialties is vintage and artist’s jewelry.
The Gordon collection was largely snapped up within or for more than presale estimates. A smattering of antiques and soon-to-be antiques included a circa 1910 Vienna bead necklace, attributed to the Wiener Werkstätte, possibly the work of Amalie Szeps, that sold for $1230 (est. $1000/1500); a circa 1920 Vienna glass and metal bead necklace, attributed to the Wiener Werkstätte, that brought $1845 (est. $1000/1500); a circa 1905 Art Nouveau paillon enamel pendant, attributed to Etienne Tourette, that sold for $2460 (est. $2000/3000); and a circa 1910 carved carnelian and diamond Alsatian hound brooch that sold for $1230 (est. $600/800).
An Estruscan Revival gold and enamel brooch by Eugene Fontenay was “a really lovely piece” that ended up being “a very nice buy,” according to Colasacco—it brought $3444 (est. $4000/6000); a “fabulous” pair of circa 1870 French 18k gold, turquoise, and split-pearl earrings sold for $2460 (est. $2000/3000), “a bargain.”
There was a tie for the top lot of the Gordon section of the sale. A circa 1962 Alexander Calder brooch brought $15,990 (est. $5000/7000). See a photo of the brooch, with the accompanying caption, for more information. A circa 1974 Max Ernst-designed 23k gold “Microbes” pendant with a maker’s mark for Pierre Hugo, in the original box, also sold for $15,990 (est. $10,000/15,000).
This circa 1962 Alexander Calder silver brooch measuring 2 5/16" x 1 3/8" is “a wonderful example of one of Calder’s initial brooches; it was made for his friend Winifred McCulloch in 1962,” according to Kaitlin Shinnick. It had provenance from the estate of McCulloch to another owner, then to Leah Gordon Antiques. Numbered A257621 by the Calder Foundation, the brooch sold for $15,990 (est. $5000/7000). Skinner.
The collection of Carol Ferranti was another highlight of the Skinner sale. Ferranti was “a colleague at Skinner for many years. She was an expert in the Art Nouveau period,” said Kaitlin Shinnick, senior specialist in the fine jewelry department. Ferranti’s shop at Madison and 72nd Street in New York City “was a stop for those who appreciated eclecticism and great taste,” according to Skinner.
A couple of Ferranti’s personal favorites sold above the presale estimates. A circa 1940 14k gold gem-set brooch, designed as a leaf set with various colored stones, including sapphire, ruby, amethyst, citrine, and aquamarine, brought $1353 (est. $600/800), and a coral necklace, composed of two strands of coral beads graduating in size from approximately 7.70 to 13.00 mm, realized $4613 (est. $1500/2500).
Other Ferranti favorites sold at the end of the sale when Gloria Lieberman was the auctioneer, including a circa 1905 Arts and Crafts enamel, fire opal, and freshwater pearl dog collar that brought $10,455 (est. $8000/12,000); a rare Gabriel Falguieres Art Nouveau gold and enamel pendant/brooch that realized $15,990 (est. $15,000/20,000); and a “beautiful” Art Nouveau Marcus and Co. ring in 18k gold, aquamarine, and plique-à-jour enamel that sold for $10,455 (est. $8000/12,000).
The top lot at the Skinner sale was an antique 3.23-carat Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring that sold for $135,000 (est. $30,000/50,000). Shinnick explained why the ring beat the presale estimates so handily. “The Kashmir sapphire mine was only active for a brief period in the 1880s, which makes these velvety cornflower-blue stones incredibly rare and sought after. This ring came from a New England family, who had owned it for over 100 years.”
The top lot of the Skinner sale was this antique sapphire and diamond ring, set with a 3.23-carat cushion-cut sapphire surrounded by old European-cut diamonds. Accompanied by an AGL document stating that the sapphire is Kashmir, with no gemological evidence of heat, the ring sold for $135,000 (est. $30,000/50,000). Skinner.
This diamond necklace contains the “Esperanza” diamond (see the column for the story of this “find”) and was the second to the top lot of the Skinner sale. It was accompanied by a copy of a GIA report that stated that the diamond is D color, internally flawless, and by an AGS report stating that the diamond is D color, internally flawless, type IIa. It sold for $116,850 (est. $100,000/150,000). Skinner.
The second-highest price realized at the Skinner sale was for the “Esperanza” diamond, highlighted in presale press, on the Skinner blog, and by many news agencies upon and after its discovery in 2015. Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colorado, visited the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, with her boyfriend, and found a “large rough diamond…the fifth largest ever found in the park” for an $8 admission fee. (The park has a “finders keepers” policy.) After it was cut by expert diamond cutter Mike Botha, by hand, on site in Arkansas, it was transformed into a 147-facet teardrop-shape “triolette” diamond that weighed 4.62 carats. It was then set by jeweler Ian Douglas in a platinum mount “intended to emphasize its unique shape,” according to the Skinner catalog. The diamond necklace was accompanied by a copy of a GIA report that stated that the diamond is D color, internally flawless, and by an AGS report stating that the diamond is D color, internally flawless, type IIa. It sold for $116,850 (est. $100,000/150,000).
The next Skinner fine jewelry auction is an online sale that runs from June 20 through June 28. Visit the website (www.skinnerinc.com) to view the catalog.
This Art Deco sapphire and diamond ring, set with an oval-cut sapphire weighing 5.73 carats, flanked by old European-cut diamonds, was accompanied by an AGL document stating that the sapphire is of Burma origin and shows no evidence of heat. It was among the highlights that sold at the end of the auction when Gloria Lieberman served as the auctioneer. It sold for $34,440 (est. $8000/10,000). Kaitlin Shinnick said, “Older Burma sapphires, especially unheated stones, are bringing high prices. This stone had some condition issues, but several bidders saw the potential.” Skinner.
Bidding for this 16" long antique natural pearl necklace was rapid until it settled at $22,140 (est. $4000/6000). Kaitlin Shinnick said, “The natural pearl market remains very strong. The strand had beautiful luster and still had the original antique clasp.” Composed of 135 pearls graduating in size from approximately 3.80 to 8.10 mm, with a clasp set with three old-mine-cut diamonds in a silver-topped gold mount, the necklace was accompanied by a Gemmological Certification Services, London, report stating that the pearls are natural, saltwater. Skinner.
This circa 1885 silver coin bracelet with “Liberty seated” dimes, possibly from Providence, Rhode Island, belonged to Lydia Chace of Providence and is “a wearable family tree” documenting three generations of her family. The heirloom bracelet consists of ten circular charms with personalized inscriptions of initials, first names, and drawings of butterflies inscribed on one side. It is one of over 100 pieces of jewelry in the exhibit Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England,opening on May 17 at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts.
The exhibition Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England opens at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts, on May 17. The exhibition will feature more than 100 pieces of jewelry, complementary textiles, portraits, and photographs from Historic New England’s extensive collections. “Together, these objects unlock the lid of New England’s jewelry box and tell tales of family history, industrial development, and artistic expression unique to the region,” according to Historic New England.
The exhibition’s five themes, Celebrate, Remember, Tour, Collect, and Create, “highlight jewelry’s unique role as a public display of personal history.” Wedding rings, souvenir cuff links, jet earrings, opal brooches, and costume jewels from the 18th century to the present, once belonging to members of New England families, make up the collection.
Associate curator Laura Johnson said, “Jewelry is special. Most people think of it as a luxury, but it is an important part of how we remember important moments. These objects, like all of Historic New England’s collection, help us tell fascinating stories about life in New England.”
The exhibition will be on display until January 7, 2018. Located at 1424 Canton Avenue, Milton, Massachusetts, the museum and study center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday from May to October, and Friday through Sunday from November to April. Guided tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for students and children, and free for Historic New England members and Milton residents. For more information about the Eustis Estate, visit the website (www.HistoricNewEngland.org).
Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest