The spring auction season is officially under way and Bonhams will ease into the year with its California Jewels sale this Monday, March 21st. The 400-plus lot sale comprises an accessible spread of jewelry spanning more than a century of design, with the majority of estimates under $5,000.
The variety of affordable jewels in the sale, whose highest estimated lot tops out at $18,000, encompasses a sampling from nearly every important period as well as collectible designs from the leading fine jewelry houses (most with estimates of $1,500 to 3,000). Bulgari? Check. Buccellati? Check. Cartier? Check. Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb? Check, check and check! What’s more, the sale features unique pieces from independent designers from the 1960s to contemporary, such as Kurt Wayne, Kutchinsky, Elizabeth Gage, Stephen Webster and Denise Robergé.
My favorite jewel in the sale is, without a doubt, a sculpted gold squirrel ring by Kurt Wayne, circa 1969 (est. $1,200 – 1,800). The realistically composed critter, with its three-dimensional design, is even cuter in person, sitting curiously atop the finger when worn.
In close second is another animal jewel, this one a necklace with a pendant designed as a succession of three adorable elephants composed of lapis lazuli, coral and tiger’s eye, by Van Cleef & Arpels (est. $3,500 – 5,000). Also notable from Van Cleef & Arpels is a single Alhambra motif bracelet in lapis lazuli (est. $2,000 – 3,000)
Other notable lots include a lovely carved coral and emerald flower necklace, by Trio (est. $3,000 – 5,000); an Egyptian Revival gem-set hardstone cameo brooch, French, circa 1880 (est. $3,000 – 5,000); a playful lapis lazuli and gold fringe necklace (est. $1,000 – 1,500); a beautifully made diamond and gold bracelet, French (est. $3,000 – 5,000); an interesting carved citrine, diamond and rock crystal lion brooch, by Stephen Webster, 2001 (est. $2,000 – 3,000); a glass and metal ‘Biches’ brooch, by Lalique, circa 1912 (est. $2,000 – 3,000); and a lapis lazuli and diamond pendant brooch, by Kutchinsky, London, circa 1971 (est. $3,000 – 5,000).
It is refreshing to browse a sale that is stocked with interesting, wearable and well-priced pieces instead of diamond after diamond. Appealing to the casual nature of California cool, this West Coast sale gets Bonhams off to a breezy start for the spring jewelry auction season.