Antique Jewelry & Gemology
Photos courtesy Leslie Hindman
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, held its auction of important jewelry and timepieces on April 10. I had a conversation about the sale and the jewelry market with Katie Guilbault, senior specialist, and Jamie Henderson, specialist, afterward. Guilbault reiterated what we’d talked about when we last spoke in May 2018 (see M.A.D., June 2018, p. 16-C), that “antique jewelry that’s in good condition, pieces that are signed, pieces that are really special and unique” are faring well in the market. “The older pieces are doing well. I feel like people are still craving them because they’re rare…. We did really well with estates in the sale as well—I think it was really fresh property. People like to see a whole collection and the range that someone collected over their lifetime.”
She gave the example of the Violet Soffer collection, the majority of which brought prices either near or above the high estimates. She said people love to look at “the curated collection of somebody who really loved jewelry,” even when it’s not a person they’re familiar with. “It’s fun to see what they collected in the 1970s, in the ’80s, the ’90s, and more current things they collected.”
One of the top lots was a platinum and diamond riviere necklace containing approximately 20.60 carats of old-European-cut diamonds, which realized $50,000 (includes buyer’s premium), above the estimate of $20,000/30,000. A Cartier Art Deco platinum, diamond, and onyx wristwatch with a movement by European Watch and Clock Co. Inc. was one of the most sought-after items in the sale, and it sold for $32,500 (est. $5000/7000). A 6.34-carat old-European-cut diamond, O-P color, SI1 clarity, with no fluorescence, also sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000/30,000). Guilbault said older cut diamonds are doing well (see the photo and caption for more information).
Several lots that brought unexpected results “were actually not antique but look antique.” A pair of silver-topped gold and diamond chandelier earrings with old-European-, old-mine-cut, and pear-shape diamonds sold for $12,500 (est. $7000/9000). A “definitely very Art Deco-looking” pair of platinum, diamond, and onyx pendant earrings brought $13,750 (est. $3500/5500). “People loved them, and they did really well. Again, an Art Deco look, not actually Deco. We were still able to do really well with them because they were beautifully made, in great condition, and the look was very classic.” A contemporary Art Deco-style platinum, yellow gold, fancy yellow diamond, diamond, and emerald ring sold for $6875 (est. $2500/3500).
Another newer item in an older motif was an 18k yellow gold, plique-à-jour, diamond, and cultured baroque pearl “Moon Goddess” pendant/brooch by Nouveau 1910 from the estate of Herta Cuneo, who was a circus performer and bear trainer. It was sold to benefit the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. It brought $8750 (est. $1500/2500). Henderson said it was an homage and “a great style of a time period—the plique-à-jour is beautifully done—it’s just not antique.”
Unique jewelry from the 1960s and 1970s “is a market that is definitely breaking through for us,” Guilbault said. A Piaget turquoise and 18k yellow gold pendant/necklace watch from the 1970s that sold for $28,750 (est. $10,000/15,000) is a good example. It was one of Guilbault’s favorites in the auction. Henderson quipped, “I can see someone wearing this with a caftan at a cocktail party. My grandmother would have.”
A pair of antique Tiffany & Co. yellow gold and coral drop screw-back ear clips, probably designed by Tiffany’s Meta Overbeck or Julia Munson, sold for $3250 (est. $800/1200). Guilbault said, “Undyed, natural coral still seems to be doing really well.” She said coral “feels really fresh and modern, even in an older earring or an older necklace.”
The estate of Violet Soffer included several David Webb designs. “We did nicely with the David Webb pieces that we had in the sale. Most of those were from the estate, and they were priced right. Webb has been doing well at auction when it’s been priced correctly.” The Webb pieces from the Soffer collection were older pieces, which generally achieve the best results because they’re unique and scarce. Examples included an 18k yellow gold bead necklace that sold for $12,500 (est. $6000/8000); an 18k yellow gold collar necklace that realized $9375 (est. $4000/6000); and an 18k yellow gold, platinum, diamond, emerald, and enamel leopard brooch that brought $7500 (est. $5000/7000).
Guilbault said, “We had a couple of really kind of funky, interesting things in the sale, like animal motifs.” Henderson interjected, “The bangle, the squirrel in the running gear, which was a design for Tiffany. It was a Donald Claflin-looking design, but it’s not signed by him. So it’s one of those mysteries. But who would knock off a squirrel in running gear? He was just hilarious—from the minute I saw him, I couldn’t help but laugh.” The 18k yellow gold, diamond, sapphire, and polychrome enamel running squirrel brooch sold for $1500 (est. $1000/2000).
“Really fun, whimsical things did well. Again, it’s because they’re unique. They’re not something that’s mass-produced. People are coming to auctions to find something that’s really special and unique,” Guilbault said.
One of Henderson’s favorite lots, along those lines, was an antique yellow gold nugget link and bloodstone hunting-motif fob charm bracelet that sold for $1375 (est. $700/900). It made her think of the greyhound she once had.
When I asked if anything is a “tough sell” at this time, Guilbault said, “Across the board, everyone would say pearls are still tough. Things have just softened for those. Unless something is a natural pearl or is really exceptional, it’s hard to get someone to sit up and take notice in an auction right now.” She said there are fewer pearls on offer in the Hindman sales at this time, “because we give people the auction estimates, and they say, ‘Well, I might as well hold onto them or give them to someone in the family.’ Cultured pearls in general are just having a little bit of a harder time.”
When we spoke about the colored stone market, Guilbault echoed what we’ve been hearing from other jewelry specialists. “People are really looking for a great country of origin coupled with something that’s unheated.” In the case of emeralds, “They really want it to be traditional treatment and Colombian. Obviously, if it had no treatment, that would be really rare, and that’s going to do really well. If it’s going to have a treatment, it’s more desirable for it to have a traditional treatment than a modern treatment. People know about that now, and they ask about it.”
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Katie Guilbault said that “people were really clamoring for” the auction catalog cover lot. This 15¼" long platinum and diamond riviere necklace contains 75 old-European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 20.60 carats total. She said most collectors will already have a riviere necklace in their collection, and dealers already have many of them in their inventories. “The reason this did well was because it was a different take on it. The diamonds were bevel-set with really light, delicate millegrain all around the edges, so it was different enough—you don’t see this every day.” It sold for $50,000 (est. $20,000/30,000).
Jamie Henderson said this “beautiful turquoise Piaget watch from the 1970s is very long, necklace-wise.” The 18k yellow gold pendant/necklace watch has a turquoise color that was “almost Tiffany blue. A lot of times with Piaget, when we get them as wristwatches, the stone dials are the desirable ones.” She was surprised that it sold for $28,750 when it was “in for ten to fifteen thousand.” Guilbault noted, “Unique 1960s and 1970s jewelry is a market that is definitely breaking through for us.”
This 6.34-carat old-European-cut diamond, from the estate of Harold and Carolyn Cohen of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was accompanied by a GIA diamond grading certificate number stating the color is O-P, the clarity is SI1, the polish is good, the symmetry is fair, and that the stone has no fluorescence. It sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000/30,000). Guilbault commented, “I don’t know if someone is going to keep it as a 6.34 [carat] and mount it and wear it, or if someone’s going to have it be a project. Again, if it’s an older cut diamond, we’re seeing those do really well. If you have a nice antique cushion or if you have an old European cut, people really love that—it’s unique.”
Jamie Henderson said that they hadn’t seen an example of a Cartier Art Deco platinum, diamond, and onyx wristwatch having “onyx going all the way around the bracelet.” She noted, “It was of a slightly smaller size watch, but still, it was wearable, and it worked.” When they opened it up, they could see the movement signed “European Watch and Clock Co. Inc.” “With the black and the white, it was classic Art Deco Cartier,” and it sold well over the high estimate for $32,500 (est. $5000/7000).
Henderson thought that this pair of antique Tiffany & Co. yellow gold and coral drop screw-back ear clips was probably designed by Tiffany’s Meta Overbeck or Julia Munson. With two round coral cabochons measuring approximately 5.45 mm in diameter, two round coral beads measuring approximately 5.55 mm in diameter, and two coral drops measuring approximately 28.00 mm long, the pair realized $3250 (est. $800/1200). Guilbault said, “Coral continues to be a really nice gemstone for us—people are still loving that. And the fact that they were Tiffany was great. They were in beautiful condition, too, and the work on them was really exquisite.”
This pair of silver-topped gold and diamond chandelier earrings was featured in a Leslie Hindman Instagram post on April 5. With 138 old-European- and old-mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 8.00 carats total and 18 pear-shape diamonds weighing approximately 7.00 carats total, the earrings are a good example of a theme, possibly a trend, that Katie Guilbault and Jamie Henderson picked up on in this sale. Guilbault said, “It was an older look that people were excited about, but they were newly made. They were made really beautifully. We weren’t sure how the market was going to react to the fact that they were older looking but not actually old.” The market responded with a strong result of $12,500 (est. $7000/9000).
This yellow gold, silver, ruby, and diamond witch’s heart ring, with one pear-shape mixed-cut ruby measuring approximately 7.05 mm x 5.90 mm x 2.95 mm, one pear-shape rose-cut diamond measuring approximately 6.40 mm x 5.60 mm x 1.80 mm, and 45 old-mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.65 carat total, sold for $5000 (est. $2500/3500).
Katie Guilbault said, “People were really enamored with the overall look of” this Art Deco 1⅝" x 17/16 "platinum and diamond brooch, with four old-European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 5.20 carats total, old-mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 3.20 carats total, round mixed-cut, and hexagonal step-cut diamonds. “I think it’s just something that is so unusual. It looked like it was some sort of symbol, but it’s not—it was a really cool motif.” She said they wondered if someone would buy it and “break it up for the diamonds,” but they were happy when they found that it was going to stay together. It sold for $16,250 (est. $7000/9000).
Jamie Henderson said these micromosaic brooches came from an estate. “I’ve never seen a micromosaic with that black and white, so I think that must’ve been taken from a marble, because usually we see them with color—those were great. They were quite big, and I think they also converted.” The Victorian yellow gold and micromosaic brooch, Italian and French, left, measuring approximately 52.00 mm x 42.00 mm, with a French maker’s mark stamp and an Italian transitional hallmark, sold for $4000 (est. $1000/2000). The Victorian yellow gold and micromosaic pendant/brooch, Italian and French, right, measuring approximately 60.00 mm x 50.00 mm, with a French gold mark and an Italian transitional hallmark, brought $3500 (est. $1000/2000).
This Edwardian silver-topped gold and diamond convertible pendant/brooch, with three old-European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.40 carats total and 52 old-European- and mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.40 carats total, has a removable necklace fitting with an attached chain of white gold long and short links. It was accompanied by a fitted box signed “The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd 112 Regent St London.” The box has a concealed compartment that holds the brooch fitting and an attachment tool. The lot sold for $6250 (est. $3000/5000).
This Art Deco platinum, diamond, and emerald brooch, with three old-European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.60 carats total, old-European-, transitional-brilliant-, and round-single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 5.50 carats total, and four baguette-cut emeralds, brought $8750 (est. $7000/9000).
Another example of a new jewel with an antique look bringing strong results was this platinum, yellow gold, fancy yellow diamond, diamond, and emerald ring, with a central cushion brilliant-cut fancy yellow diamond weighing 1.01 carats, 86 old-mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.43 carat total, and 28 calibre-cut emeralds. Accompanied by a GIA colored diamond grading certificate stating that the color is natural fancy yellow, even, with VS1 clarity, very good polish, fair symmetry, and no fluorescence, the ring sold for $6875 (est. $2500/3500).
This 18k yellow gold, plique-à-jour, diamond, and cultured baroque pearl “Moon Goddess” pendant/brooch by Nouveau 1910 was from the estate of Herta Cuneo, a circus performer and bear trainer, and it was sold to benefit the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. It brought $8750 (est. $1500/2500). Katie Guilbault said it was “another example of a contemporary piece that sold really well. It has that Art Nouveau motif, but it’s Nouveau 1910, which is a brand name. It’s a great way for somebody to get into that motif and into that market, if they can’t afford an actual plique-à-jour Art Nouveau piece.” Jamie Henderson added, “It’s a great style of a time period—the plique-à-jour is beautifully done—it’s just not antique.”
This circa 1929 Cartier, France, Art Deco 18k yellow gold and enamel “Eclipse/Guillotine” travel clock, with a movement signed “European Watch and Clock Co Inc.,” and the inner case back engraved “European Watch and Clock Co. Inc France,” was accompanied by a fitted case signed “Cartier” and a Cartier certificate of authenticity dated September 17, 1998. It realized $20,000 (est. $6000/8000).
This Art Deco platinum, diamond, emerald, and onyx bracelet, with 125 old-European- and round single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 4.20 carats total, six square step-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.60 carat total, 29 marquise and square step-cut emeralds, and six triangle-shape onyx pieces, sold for $8750 (est. $3000/5000).
This antique platinum, diamond, and sapphire ring, with one old-European-cut diamond weighing approximately 1.51 carats, 16 round single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.25 carat total, and six rectangular French-cut sapphires, brought $5500 (est. $4000/6000).
This Art Deco platinum, diamond, and onyx pendant watch necklace, with a maker’s mark for Whiteside & Blank in the case, and the movement signed by C.H. Meylan Brasses for Tiffany & Co., realized $5000 (est. $2000/4000).
Originally published in the June 2019 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2019 Maine Antique Digest