Antiques: The Cartier Style

PUBLISHED: 12:39 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 20 February 2013

Antique 1

Antique 1

The timeless appeal of Cartier pieces means that demand at auction has always remained strong, even through an economic down turn, reports Helen Bolus.

The name Cartier has embodied grace and elegance, sophistication and refinement for over 150 years. In June Bonhams holds its Jewellery in June event which, last year, included three iconic pieces of early 20th century Cartier jewellery. The pieces had been in the family of the vendors for over 90 years but were hidden away and had not been worn or enjoyed for many years, yet high insurance premiums were being paid for them. The aquamarine sautoir and emerald ring (1, 2) was, according to family tradition executed by Cartier in the 1920s as part of a private commission using gemstones purchased from a trip to South America.The provenance from the vendor and original sketches of the pieces discovered in the Cartier archives enabled these pieces to surpass all expectations at auction.
The long necklace, or sautoir (1), is a style that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. This one has three fine turquoise blue aquamarines, connected by geometric links of sapphire cabochons and brilliant and single-cut diamonds. It would be worn elegantly draped across the shoulders and would terminate in a pendant or tassel. This example achieved a remarkable 216,000 at the New Bond Street Fine Jewellery sale in September 2009.
An impressive step-cut emerald ring (2) is typical of the Art Deco era. The emerald, weighing 8.41 carats, is set between demi-lune and baguette-cut diamonds. The size of the stone, the intense green colour, good transparency and the fact that it is accompanied by a laboratory certificate stating it was of Colombian origin with only minor clarity enhancement fuelled strong competition in the auction room. The final hammer price was 162,000, over four times its pre-sale estimate.
A rare art deco cuff bangle (3) sold for an amazing 96,000. Dated around 1939 the pieces consists of a black lacquer cuff, with three detachable diamond set floral clips. The design was first launched in 1934 and quickly become a best selling line in London, Paris and New York. This elegant piece was also very practical. Each floral clip could be removed and worn as individual clips. The use of back lacquer was both a design choice and a practical option. Lacquer,
made using 17th century Chinese and Japanese techniques, made the bangle resistant to water and acid damage. During the 1930s, a time
of economic difficulty, Cartier hoped that the practicality and versatility of this type of jewellery would persuade the buyer that the expense was worthwhile. It seems almost a coincidence that over 50 years later the bangle should again emerge within a suffering market and still hold true to Cartiers original ideals. (Note: auction results are inclusive of buyers premium.)

To find out about Jewellery in June 2010 contact Helen Bolus FGA DGA on 01564 732965 or email

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