Next week, Sotheby’s shifts its spring season into full gear with its first Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on April 19th. The sale is already causing a frenzy with the anticipation of how high the hammer price will go for the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond. However, the beautiful blue rarity is not the only piece of jewelry to look forward to in the sale.
Magnificent and Rare Platinum, Fancy Deep Blue Diamond and Diamond Ring The cushion modified brilliant-cut Fancy Deep Blue diamond weighing 9.54 carats, flanked by four rows of baguette diamonds weighing approximately .40 carat, size 5¾; 1940. Together with an alternate mounting, composed of 18 karat gold and platinum, designed as two interlocking bands, size 5½, signed Tiffany & Co.; 1972.
Sprinkled among the well-known names that dominate every major jewelry sale, such as this one, is an assortment of enigmatic designers whose work sporadically appears at auction. Firstly, the four unique jewels by Marianne Ostier in the sale offers a rare opportunity to see the work by one of the very few female artist jewelers of the 20th century. In an industry largely dominated by men, Ostier brought an understanding of jewelry should be worn by women, factoring face shape, complexion, body type and coloring as important criteria when selecting jewels.
Norman Norell collection – Stripe-and-Rose Patterned Dress with Marianne Ostier Jewels, 1947. This stripe-and-rose patterned dress by Traina-Norell was featured in Vogue, where it was described as “fresh and bold as Matisse”. The photograph was sent with a press release issued by the advertising agency N. W. Ayer & Son, Inc., and can be found with the accompanying letter in Box OSx-2, Folder 9. The description in the press release indicates that the model is wearing “versatile” jewelry designs by Marianne Ostier, including a ruby-and-diamond flower-burst necklace and barrel-shaped bracelet concealing a seventeen-jewel watch. Photo courtesy of The New School Archives
Upon her marriage to Oliver Ostier, a third generation court jeweler to the Hapsburgs, she moved to New York in 1939 and opened a shop along Fifth Avenue near 57th street. There, she translated her training in painting and sculpting at the Vienna Academy of Arts and Crafts into jewelry design, gaining a glittering clientele that included Julie Nixon, Ingrid Bergman and the Maharani of Jaipur. However, her foray into the business lasted only three decades. Ostier closed her shop after the death of her husband, finding the day-to-day tasks to be too overwhelming to manage on her own.
Platinum and Diamond Tiara, Designed by Marianne Ostier for Oesterreicher, Wien
Depicting the Albanian royal crest of the ‘Ram of Skanderberg’ atop a graduated floral vine, set with old European and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 28.05 carats, accented by baguette diamonds weighing approximately 4.80 carats; circa 1938. With signed and fitted royal presentation box. Estimate: $30,000-50,000
During her short time designing jewelry, Ostier left an indelible mark in the annals of jewelry history and a pioneer for future female jewelry designers. Her exquisite pieces capture the mid-century modern glamor with an elegant and original style, affording her oeuvre the admiration and appreciation from collectors today. Thus, it is a special treat to see the four pieces by Ostier in the outstanding collection of Mamdouha and Elmer Holmes Bobst in the sale. The most extraordinary piece is, without a doubt, a diamond tiara (est. $30,000-50,000) designed by Ostier for Oesterreicher, Wien, which would later become Ostier, Inc. of New York, in 1938 for the marriage of Queen Geraldine and King Zog I of Albania. Making this tiara strikingly distinct is the depiction of the ‘Ram of Skanderberg’ from the Albanian royal crest perched above a floral vine inspired by Geraldine, ‘The White Rose of Hungary’.
Platinum and Diamond ‘Galaxy’ Brooch, Marianne Ostier
The swirled, celestial design centering one round diamond weighing 5.26 carats, accented by additional round diamonds weighing approximately 35.00 carats, with maker’s mark; circa 1955. With signed box. Estimate: $45,000-65,000
Another exceptional piece by Ostier, also from the Bobst collection, is a ‘Galaxy Brooch’, circa 1955 (est. $45,000-65,000). A spiraling swirl of diamonds depicts the celestial formation with sparkling sophistication.
18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Enamel, Turquoise and Diamond Brooch, Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co. Designed as a Thunderbird with a feathered crown and wings stretched, the wings highlighted with stripes applied in black and white enamel, the torso with black and gold enamel in feather-like patterns, and the mask additionally applied with black and white enamel, set with round diamonds weighing approximately 9.15 carats, accented by four turquoise cabochons, gross weight approximately 38 dwts, signed Tiffany & Co.; circa 1966. Estimate: $20,000-30,000
Of equally rare and unique status, the assortment of jewels designed by Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co. in the sale celebrate the whimsical side of jewelry. The colorful characters Claflin instilled into his high collectible brooches can be appreciated in three examples in the sale, including a fierce ‘Thunderbird’ (est. $20,000-30,000), circa 1966, and a brooch designed as a fantastical sea serpent amidst the ocean’s waves (est. $30,000-50,000), circa 1968.
18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond Brooch, Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co.
Designed as a sea serpent amidst the ocean’s waves, the serpent with a looped tail, set with round diamonds weighing approximately 10.65 carats, the torso further set with round sapphires, completed by a cabochon emerald eye, gross weight approximately 27 dwts, signed Tiffany & Co.; circa 1968. With signed box. Estimate: $30,000-50,000
The sale also offers two additional pieces by Claflin, which were specially designed to feature tanzanite after its 1968 discovery by a Masai tribesman near the Kenyan border. The sapphire doppleganger ‘freak stones’, but at a fraction of the price, gave Claflin a new blue hue to work with, creating 18 limited edition jewels showcasing tanzanite that was unveiled by Tiffany & Co. in November 1968.
Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Tanzanite, Emerald, Colored Diamond and Diamond Brooch, Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co.
Designed as a flower, set with a cushion-cut tanzanite weighing approximately 47.85 carats, framed by round diamonds of yellow hue weighing approximately 2.65 carats, accented by round near colorless diamonds weighing approximately 2.25 carats, further decorated with round emeralds, signed Tiffany & Co.; circa 1968. With signed box. Estimate: $25,000-35,000
Naturally, the sale features a remarkable array of jewelry by prestigious brands and historically important designers from over two centuries of jewelry design. Fabulous jewels by Belperron, Schlumberger, Boivin and Raymond Yard join the ranks of its jeweled peers created by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari. Here are my standout favorites from the sale:
Pair of 18 Karat Gold Clips, René Boivin, France, circa 1936. Estimate: $15,000-20,000
18 Karat Gold, Coral and Diamond Necklace and Ring, Jean Schlumberger, France, circa 1950. Estimate: $60,000-80,000
Archaeological-Revival Gold and Colored Glass Bead Necklace, Castellani, circa 1880. Estimate: $20,000-30,000
Gold, Platinum, Colored Diamond, Diamond and Emerald ‘Salmon’ Pendant-Brooch, Raymond Yard, circa 1954. Estimate: $15,000-20,000
18 Karat Gold, Coral and Diamond Bracelet, Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimate: $55,000-75,000
Pair of Gold, Sapphire, Turquoise and Diamond Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimate: $10,000-15,000
Magnificent Platinum and 12.45-carat Fancy Purplish Pink Diamond Ring. Estimate: $3-5million
Pair of 18 Karat Gold, Diamond and Colored Diamond Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels, France. Estimate: $20,000-30,000
Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Brooch, Marianne Ostier. Estimate: $175,000-275,000
Platinum, Gold, Colored Stone and Diamond Brooch, Suzanne Belperron, circa 1938. Estimate: $60,000-80,000
18 Karat Gold, Amethyst, Pearl and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, The Pendant by Jean Herz – Suzanne Belperron, Designed by Suzanne Belperron, circa 1970-74. Estimate: $30,000-40,000
Platinum, Onyx, Enamel and Diamond Brooch, Cartier, France, circa 1930. Estimate: $30,000-40,000
Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Colored Stone Brooch, Cartier, London, circa 1935. Estimate: $25,000-35,000
Pair of 18 Karat Gold and Chalcedony ‘Ballerina’ Brooches, Van Cleef & Arpels, France, circa 1940. Estimate $30,000-50,000. And An 18 Karat Gold, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond ‘Ballerina’ Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, circa 1947. Estimate: $100,000-150,000
18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Tourmaline and Diamond Bracelet, Tiffany & Co. Estimate: $40,000-60,000
Highly Important Platinum, 4.57-carat Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Ring, J.E. Caldwell. Estimate: $500,000-700,000
Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Clip-Brooch, Seaman Schepps, circa 1935. Estimate: $20,000-30,000
Group of 18 Karat Gold, Coral and Diamond Jewelry, Bulgari, France, circa 1965. Estimate: $450,000-550,000
Platinum and Diamond Double-Clip Pendant-Brooch, Jean Schlumberger, circa 1960. Estimate: $250,000-350,000
Platinum, Diamond and Onyx Brooch, René Boivin, France, circa 1910-1915. Estimate: $250,000-350,000
Important Platinum, Fancy Pink Diamond, Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Estimate: $600,000-800,000
Magnificent Platinum and 15.37-carat Diamond Ring. Estimate: $1.2-1.8million