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Cartier among top names in online auction Oct. 13

Exquisite jewelry and high-quality decorative arts are offered in an online auction to be conducted by Jasper52 on Sunday, Oct. 13. Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels rings, brooches and bracelets; Patek Philippe and Cartier watches; Hermes handbags, English sterling silver and superb European porcelain fill out the 322-lot catalog.

Cartier 18K yellow gold, diamond, sapphire, emerald and ruby ring, size US 5 ¼, with original Cartier box. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

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Designer & luxury jewelry showcased in online auction Sept. 25

Jasper52 will host an outstanding selection of luxury jewelry from a variety of designers, eras and mediums on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Highlights of the 174-lot sale include a classic pair of Buccellati diamond earrings, a head-turning Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet and several fancy yellow diamond rings.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo ‘Ludo-Hexagonal’ bracelet, yellow gold and platinum set with diamonds, made in France, 1940s. Estimate: $80,000-$85,000. Jasper52 image

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Fine jewelry, watches highlight Jasper52 auction May 29

More than 600 lots of fine jewelry, watches and decorative art are offered in an online auction taking place Wednesday, May 29, through Jasper52. Names synonymous with the highest quality design and craftsmanship are presented: Tiffany & Co., Buccellati, Rolex and Jaeger-Lecoultre, to name a few.

Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., 18K ring with 2.06 heart-shaped diamond and 14 round diamonds weighing approximately 0.28 carats, 1960s. Estimate: $34,000-$41,000. Jasper52 image

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Reflecting on rhinestones’ flash from the past

NEW YORK – Rhinestones are named for Rhine stones, sparkly, highly coveted rock crystals found along Europe’s Rhine River. They date from the early 1700s, when Georg Friedrich Strass devised a method of backing faceted glass crystals with metal powder. As a result, light, instead of passing through their facets directly, refracted into brilliant rainbow spectrums.

His individually cut, hand-finished pieces, also known as Strass and diamantes, were marketed as “poor men’s diamonds.” Nonetheless, many well-to-dos, fearing that their precious jewels would be lost or stolen, often commissioned rhinestone replicas to wear while traveling or attending public events. Since hand faceting and molding rhinestones was laborious, these faux ornaments were often as costly as their originals.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Aurora-Borealis set of bracelet and earrings, marked ‘Schiaparelli’ with patent number ‘2383,’ France, 1956, realized €1,100 in 2015. Image courtesy Auctionata Paddle 8 AG and LiveAuctioneers

As jewelry became simpler, smaller and more elegant, colored rhinestones, created by backing clear stones with metallic foil in a variety of shades, became the height of fashion. Their shimmering, transparent shades, known as turquoise, sapphire or ruby-rhinestones, for example, reflect the gems they simulate. Colorful chokers, bracelets and brooches, featuring romantic floral motifs, were also charmers.

Elsa Schiaparelli suite of ear clips and brooch, aurora rhinestone brooch and matching ear clips, the brooch with prong-set marquis Swarovski crystals and three marbleized prong-set cabochons, marked ‘Schiaparelli,’ 3.25 in. From the Collections of Carole Tanenbaum, Toronto, Canada, realized $225 in 2012. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

In the late 1890s, as pieces became more extravagant, Daniel Swarovski, son of a Bohemian gem cutter, invented a water-powered machine that mechanically cut and faceted lead crystal faster, more precisely and affordably than before. Since each facet breaks reflected light into a striking rainbowed fragment, the more facets, the more flash. When their lead percentage was increased, Swarovski’s multifaceted creations grew flashier still. Indeed, due to their multiple, consistent facets and exceptional brilliance, many consider vintage Swarovski rhinestone pieces to be top of the line. Marked or signed ones in prime condition are doubly desirable.

Costume jewelry bracelet with rhinestones and simulated emeralds, 6¾in. long, realized $60 in 2017. Image courtesy Auction Gallery of Boca Raton and LiveAuctioneers.

At the turn of the century, when garnet or pearl petit point edgings adorned delicate diamonds, scores wore versions with less costly rhinestones. Some, instead, preferred romantic winged, whirled, or feathered bow hearts, bow knots, or floral spray brooches. Others flaunted showy, multihued, rhinestone frogs, dragonflies, swans, snails, peacocks or tortoises.

French rhinestone shoe clips, circa 1800s, marked ‘Holfast Pat. App. For.’ Few rhinestones missing from each, realized $20 in 2017. Image courtesy of Cordier Auctions & Appraisals and LiveAuctioneers

Rhinestones came into their own, however, in the 1920s, when white-on-whites, say diamonds or white topaz on platinum, were the cat’s meow. Coco Chanel, parting from tradition, championed rhinestones not as diamond wannabes, but as glamourous, cutting-edge glories worn day or night. In time, glittery, mass-produced rhinestone earrings, hat pins, shoe clips and evening bags were available not only in exclusive shops, but also at five-and-dimes.

During the Great Depression, whimsical, brightly hued rhinestone flower, bird and butterfly brooches brightened the gloom. In addition, dazzling dress clips, hair clips and necklaces, inspired by Hollywood glitz and glam, made simple outfits look like a million.

Vintage Eisenberg brooch, with colored stones and rhinestones in shape of a dragonfly, 4in. x 3.5in., realized $300 in 2011. Image courtesy of Jay Kielstock Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Through the following years, American manufacturers such as Coro, Haskell and Trifari, produced fine, detailed pieces of rhinestone costume jewelry, many with imported Swarovski stones. Exquisite, highly detailed Eisenberg & Sons dress clips, snowflakes and swirling bows were also popular. After World War II, when jewelry styles grew big and bold, many earrings, chokers and brooches bloomed with large-stone, razzle-dazzle rhinestone floral clusters. Others depicted birds, bows, snakes, scrolls or ribbons.

Black floral lace dress worn by Sharon Tate to the London premiere of Roman Polanski’s film ‘Cul-de-Sac’ in 1966, featuring raised waist with satin bow, rhinestone and simulated pearl brooch, Boutique Christian Dior London label, realized $15,000 in 2018. Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

In the mid-1950s, the Swarovski company introduced a new type of stone featuring clear glass crystals coated with micro-thin layers of vaporized blue metal. These extraordinary jewels, illuminated by bursts of colorful, otherworldly lights against pale-blue grounds, are known as Aurora Borealis (AB). Since they also reflect hues of nearby fabrics, they caused a sensation. Christian Dior, in fact, embellished scores of his signature evening gowns with them. Furthermore, when his exclusive rights expired, other famed designers, like Elsa Schiaparelli, quickly secured them.

A vintage rhinestone creation is not only an unabashed fashion statement. It’s also a flash from the past.

Jasper52 serves up sterling silver, exquisite jewelry April 28

Fine jewelry and decorative arts inspired by Miami Beach living will be the exclusive fare of an online auction conducted by Jasper52 on Sunday, April 28. From Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra and Cartier Panthere jewelry to the finest French silver, this special sale features only the best in jewelry, watches, decorative art and silver.

Cartier Panthere 18K yellow gold bracelet watch. Estimate: $54,000-$65,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Bulgari jewelry sparkles in Jasper52 auction Feb. 27

Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bulgari are several of the famous names that stand out in a diverse mix of designer jewelry offered by Jasper52 in an online auction Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Van Cleef & Arpels retro 1940s ‘Ludo’ bracelet, 18K gold, ruby (5.86 carats) and diamonds (6.00 carats), stamped with Van Cleef & Arpels maker’s mark, French hallmarks. Estimate: $36,000-$48,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Coral: treasured since ancient times

NEW YORK – Although coral reefs resemble underwater branched plants, they are actually colonies of tiny organisms living on limestone exoskeletons of their ancestors. Precious coral, as the decorative type is commonly known, ranges from pale pink to deep red. Since it is colorfast and polishes to a high sheen, this gem-like matter harvested mainly along the Mediterranean coasts of France, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and Algeria has been esteemed for its beauty since ancient times. It was also prized for its purported restorative and protective powers.

The ancient Greeks, believing that coral transformed from plant to stone when exposed to air, endowed it with wondrous powers. Many Greeks carried coral amulets to deter ghosts and witches, deflect lightening, neutralize poisons, avert shipwrecks, cure scorpion stings and repel curses.

Snail brooch, 18K gold, featuring carved coral body, Boucheron, Paris; French maker’s mark for Bondt and guarantee stamp, signed, 33.9 grams, 2½ inches long, realized $4,750 in 2010. Image courtesy of Skinner and LiveAuctioneers

Other Greeks believed that coral was born of blood. As the legend goes, when mighty Perseus beheaded the snake-haired monster Medusa, her blood, as it seeped into seaweed, hardened into red coral. So, amulets featuring Medusa’s likeness were deemed especially protective. In addition, people reputedly relied on powdered coral to cure internal bleeding, diseases of the spleen and bladder ailments.

Romans, too, believed that coral held therapeutic powers. Besides using it to treat snake bites and arouse libido, scores of them used powdered coral to quell life-threatening blood loss. Romans also draped pieces of coral around their children’s necks to guard them from harm.

Coral and bone carved yad (pointer) for reading a Sefer Torah, 11.4 inches long, 68 gr, 20th century, realized $1,700 in 2017. Image courtesy of Moreshet Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

From the first century AD onward, coral traders plied “coral routes” to the Arabian Peninsula and through Central Asia to the Far East. Eventually, communities they served integrated this valuable “red gold” into their local traditions.

Berber women in Morocco, for example, favored bracelets, ear ornaments and brooches featuring delicate coral beading or inclusions. Many also wore lavish necklaces or filigreed silver amulets enhanced with amber, silver beading, metallic coins and bits of coral.

Berber Moroccan silver, coral and amber necklace, 11 inches long, with enameled amulet, 3.23 inches wide, realized $400 in 2013. Image courtesy of Westport Auction and LiveAuctioneers

The Chinese, who perfected the art of hardstone carving, have long prized coral for its rarity and beauty. Artisans favored it because of its softness, which made it easy to “work” in fashioning pieces of wearable or decorative art. This craft rose to new heights during the Qing Dynasty, (1644-1912) when artisans, under Imperial patronage, carved fine, red coral figurines, jewelry and sculptures as royal tributes and ornaments. Their finest works, large, organic pieces featuring incredibly detailed images, frequently embodied auspicious wishes for good luck, wealth or longevity.

Sculpted Buddhist Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) with dragons, Qing Dynasty, China, about 15 inches x 19.6 inches, 6.19 pounds, realized $80,070 in 2014. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers

Coral jewelry was especially fashionable during the Victorian era, when British women embraced ostentatiously carved cameos, densely designed floral trinkets, and flashy gold, diamond or sapphire-set brooches resembling beetles, bugs or dragonflies. Yet, British journalist G.A. Sala noted in 1868 that coral jewelry “carelessly selected, clumsily set and ignorantly arranged … may become one of the most vulgar and unsightly of all ornaments.” Today, happily, Victorian coral jewelry, which is widely collected, is available in abundance.

Spanish conquistadors introduced fine, red Mediterranean coral to the American Southwest in the 16th century, possibly as rosary beads or ornaments on najas, silver pendants hung on horses’ foreheads to avert the Evil Eye.

Old pawn Zuni sterling silver cuff bracelet, Irene Paylusi, 5⅜ inches round with 1¼-inch gap, 24.9 grams, realized $200 in 2012. Image courtesy of Santa Fe Gallery Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

It was not until much later that Navajo, Hopi and Zuni craftsmen began gem-working commercially. Their inlay work, delicately fashioned from coral combined with bits of turquoise, mother-of-pearl and black jet, often depict traditional tribal images like Rainbird, Sunface and Thunderbird. Alternately, many brooches, bracelets belt buckles, and bolo ties feature restrained, repeating coral beaded patterns. Coral necklaces range from impossibly petite, tube-shaped heishi beads and graduated, horny twigs to plump, shaped and polished cabochons. Contemporary Native creations, such as pins and rings, may dramatically integrate bits of unworked coral into traditional designs.

Graduated natural-piece coral necklace with 14K gold linkage, 19½ inches long, realized $125 in 2016, image courtesy. The Popular Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Coral amulets remain popular, as of old. Many Italian men, for instance, carry or wear slightly twisted, horn-shaped coral cornicellos to deflect the Evil Eye. Their wives and daughters may prefer more delicate coral-twig earrings, pins or pendants.

Today, too, enthusiasts scour auctions for authentic precious coral creations – superb sculptures, decorative natural specimens and enticing pieces of jewelry.

Festive colors, top designers set off fine jewelry auction Dec. 18

All the dazzling colors of the holiday season can be found in an outstanding jewelry auction presented through Jasper52 on Tuesday, Dec. 18. Choices range from an elegant Van Cleef & Arpels pearl and diamond brooch to a colorful Cartier chrysoprase, coral and diamond ring.

Cartier 18K yellow gold, chrysophrase, coral and diamond ring, circa 1990s, 7¼. Estimate: $7,000-$8,000. Jasper52 image

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David Webb’s Bejeweled Menagerie

NEW YORK – In the glittering world of designer jewelry, David Webb has been a dominant name for decades – seven, to be exact. The company celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018. While Webb may have been best known for the enameled animal bangles he introduced in the 1960s, the animal kingdom’s influence on the designer can be traced to a much earlier period of his career.

Born in 1923 Asheville, N.C., Webb opened his first shop in New York City in 1948 at age 23. He previously spent a few years as an apprentice to his uncle, learning silversmithing and metalworking. The first item he ever designed was a copper ashtray signed with a spider in its web. From then on, animal motifs became a major part in his business. In fact, his company logo incorporates a golden W with a zebra.

This David Webb 18K yellow gold and platinum bangle bracelet modeled after the Capricorn ram realized $34,000 in February 2015 at Elite Decorative Arts. Photo courtesy of Elite Decorative Arts and LiveAuctioneers

While Webb made jewelry of all kinds, from traditional gold and diamond rings to other forms that blended diamonds with semi-precious stones, his animal pieces brought him the biggest acclaim. He himself quipped, “Women are tired of jewelry-looking jewelry, and they want one-of-a-kind pieces … Animals are here to stay,” according to www.DavidWebb.com.

Webb worked animal figures into pins, necklaces and rings, but it is his bangle bracelets, usually enameled in bright colors, are iconic and highly collectible.

In 1957, he designed his first animal bangle with a dragon that contained cabochon emeralds, diamonds, platinum and gold. Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor bought the piece, which would later become known as the Elizabeth Taylor Makara Bracelet. This design opened up a world of possibilities, and a veritable zoo of animals followed – creatures both real and mythical that could fly, swim, slither or run, including frogs, panthers, zebras, horses, monkeys, snakes, leopards, alligators, seahorses and elephants. Taylor continued to be a fan and even wore her diamond-encrusted lion-and-pearl Webb designs when filming several movies.

Set with diamonds whose total carat weight approaches 28 carats, this David Webb diamond panther pin hav achieved $25,000 at Fortuna Auction in November 2017. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Vogue editor and columnist Diana Vreeland was an early champion of his work, and Vogue was among the first magazines to feature his creations. Two years after opening his own business, the magazine used a pair of Webb’s earrings on a model on the cover of a fall issue. Vreeland, herself a fashion icon, was rarely seen without her David Webb enameled zebra bangle bracelet or earrings.

Besides Taylor and Vreeland, other celebrities and public figures have been Webb devotees. In 1962, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected Webb to make the official Gifts of State for the White House. Webb responded with a series of paperweights, some including animal themes, for visiting dignitaries.

One of Mrs. Kennedy’s favorite Webb pieces was said to be a coral paperweight given to her husband, President Kennedy, as a gift. “Webb was entrusted by Jacqueline Kennedy to rework her late husband’s coral in 1966, using it to form the fish tail of typically imaginative mythical sea lion, cast in gold, which he rested upon a larger piece of coral amongst a bed of golden crystals to form the paperweight,” says a narrative on Sotheby’s website, which auctioned the item in 1996.

A David Webb ruby and emerald lion bracelet in 18K yellow gold sold for $30,000 in November 2017 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Among Hollywood’s elite, two of the stars who favored David Webb jewelry were Barbra Streisand and Princess Grace of Monaco. Even after Webb’s death [from pancreatic cancer] in 1975, the company continued to produce striking designs that were in keeping with the founder’s artistic vision. David Webb jewelry has been embraced by contemporary stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce, Amy Adams and Debra Messing, who don them to high-profile events such as the Met Gala, the Grammys and the Golden Globes.

David Webb pieces are so beloved that their owners don’t often part with them, so they only appear at auction from time to time. In April 2018, it was noteworthy when not one but two single-owner collections of David Webb jewelry crossed the block in New York. A sale at Bonhams New York was led by an amethyst, coral, emerald, rock crystal quartz, diamond and enamel pendant necklace featuring a pair of mythical creatures that realized $62,500; while Doyle New York’s sale of the Noel and Harriette Levine (who are major museum donors) collection starred a gold, platinum, enamel, diamond and cabochon ruby zebra bangle bracelet that sold for $40,625.

Distinctively David Webb, this diamond and ruby horse bracelet made $27,500 in April 2018 at Fortuna Auction. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers

On LiveAuctioneers, Webb’s animal bangle bracelets consistently bring top dollar, from a Capricorn ram gemstone and gold bangle that brought $34,000 at Elite Decorative Arts in February 2015 to an enameled gold, diamond and ruby frog bracelet that was purchased for $30,000 at Rago Arts in June 2017.

Long before “statement” jewelry was a thing, David Webb was making big, bold jewelry pieces that were distinctive and fun to wear. Fans today continue to appreciate his designs for their imaginative artistry, high-quality craftsmanship and enduring value as collectibles.

A David Webb articulated and hinged gold, diamond and ruby frog bangle made $30,000 at Rago Arts & Auction Center in June 2017. Photo courtesy of Rago Arts & Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers

Jasper52 presents exclusive pearl jewelry online auction Nov. 23

In time for holiday gift-giving to a special someone, Jasper52 will roll out the pearls in an exclusive jewelry auction Friday, Nov. 23. More than 100 lots—necklaces, bracelets and earrings—of certified pearl jewelry are being offered in this online auction, which showcases the beauty and versatility of fine pearls.

Estate double strand Akoya pearl necklace, 17½ inches. in 14K gold, diamond and tsavorite clasp. Estimate: $2,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.