New York gets dressy around the holidays, especially its store windows, where retailers light up the avenues with over-the-top displays. For those who like their holidays with more personal glitter, the annual December jewelry auctions are a highly anticipated New York tradition.
Provenance always plays a big role in collections offered at the year-end auctions; this year includes jewelry from Princess Natalie Paley, Nenetta Burton Carter (Amon Carter Museum), Judith-Ann Corrente, Susan Soros Weber, and the Rothschild banking family. If you like color in your diamonds, exceptional blues, pinks, yellows, and reds—the rarest of all the colored diamonds—make star appearances. So do the important jewelers, from Belperron to Van Cleef & Arpels to Taffin. Gents, too, will find jewels a-plenty.
In the giving tradition of December, Deeda Blair, whose jewelry is on auction at Christie’s, is donating the proceeds to her eponymous Fund for Disorders of the Brain, and Phillips is offering a ring made specially by Turkish jeweler Sevan Biçakçi for the One Drop Foundation, which helps reduce infant and mother mortality rates.
Feeling a nostalgic tug of the heart for Disney? This season, Christie’s has a Pinocchio charm bracelet with such favorites as Gepetto, the Blue Fairy, and Jiminy Cricket, made by Cartier, c. 1940. So remember, everyone, “When you wish upon a star / Makes no difference who you are …”
Bonhams looks skyward with a heavenly pair of Fancy Blue and Fancy Intense Blue marquise-cut and oval-shaped diamond earrings. For the earthbound, there’s a Cartier yellow sapphire and black enamel ring, c. 1940, designed by Jacques Cartier.
There really is “something for everyone” at Christie’s: the duPont ruby, emerald, diamond, and natural pearl brooch, and the duPont emerald ring (to benefit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts); Judith-Ann Corrente’s collection, including Lalique, an Art Deco Chaumet emerald brooch, and Belperron amethyst “leaves” set; Art Deco vanity cases and a Cartier Mystery Clock, from the collection of Caroline Ryan Foulke; and a single-owner collection of Carlo Giuliano Renaissance revival jewelry. The rara avis of the sale just might be the group of 1,000 jewelry drawings and records, including those from Cartier, c. 1930s. Bibliophiles take note.
David Webb, the American jeweler whose powerful pieces dressed the ladies-who-lunch-club and much of Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, is celebrated at Doyle from the estate of Mollie Brewster Broussard.
At Leslie Hindman
Brutalist and Modernist pieces are at Leslie Hindman in Chicago, a city known for its architectural might. Here’s jewelry that’s affordable yet increasingly collected, and asks only that you love it on its own terms: rough, tough, and bold. Makers include Gilbert Albert, Björn Weckstöm, Alan Gard, Stittgen, Bent Gabrielsen, and Roger Lucas for Cartier.
Phillips’s antique lozenge-shaped emerald and diamond brooch, c. 1890, whose history and purpose remains uncertain, is reminiscent of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Less enigmatic but simply great are an Art Deco emerald and diamond double lotus brooch by Janesich and a Boivin double tulip brooch in yellow and white gold adorned with diamonds, c. 1950. For the dedicated modernist, a rare Aldo Cipullo for Cartier “Stairs” bracelet, c. 1970, is up for grabs.
For Downton Abbey devotees, the Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry at Skinner is period perfect. So is a Cartier Art Deco dress set of square-cut sapphires set in gold for the well-heeled gentleman and a portable Tiffany & Co. gold flask for chilly nights on the town.
Verdura grabs the headlines at Sotheby’s with a life-size iris brooch set with a spectacular yellow diamond and cabochon sapphires. Consider the quiet expertise of Carvin French, which belies “The Majestic Pink” bracelet (204 radiant and marquise diamonds). “King of Diamonds” Harry Winston has some stunners, plus jewelry by Surrealist Salvador Dalí, including the iconic “Eye of Time.” For sheer crazy, check out the hunky silver and moonstone necklace designed by Millicent Rogers for Princess Natalie Paley. —Ruth Peltason