22 Aug 2019
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A 17.43ct Kashmir sapphire headlines at Bonhams London jewels sale
Sale also offers a collection of British modernist jewels, an art deco diamond and sapphire ‘transformable’ necklace and an emerald ring by Schlumberger formerly owned by Andy Warhol
By: Diamond World News Service
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Apr 8 2019 10:59AM
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Reference: 17135  

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A magnificent 17.43 carat Kashmir sapphire ring leads the first Bonhams Jewels sale in London this April (30 April 2019). 

Dating from the late 19th to early 20th century, the cushion-shaped sapphire displays a saturated and vivid blue colour and is estimated at £300,000-400,000.

It will be the first time this impressive stone – which was formerly owned by a European noble family - has appeared at auction.

Given its remarkable size together with the fact it comes from the mines of Kashmir, where the world’s most sought after sapphires come from, it is expected to gain a lot of interest from buyers and collectors around the world during its pre-sale previews in Geneva, New York and Hong Kong.

Emily Barber, Director of Jewellery at Bonhams UK, said: “Sapphires hailing from Kashmir are among the most highly-prized gems for serious connoisseurs. After the discovery of the mine in the high Himalayan mountain region of northwest India in 1881 the majority of mining activity took place during the following decade, after which the supply was essentially exhausted. This makes them extremely rare and highly desirable to collectors who want to add an important sapphire to their collection."

Another highlight of the sale is A 9.07 carat step-cut Diamond Ring. Estimated at £250,000-350,000, the step-cut diamond is F colour, Type IIa and VVS1 clarity (potential). 

Emily Barber commented: “Exceptional quality diamonds are always in demand and one of this size, colour and cut rarely comes to auction. The diamond possesses excellent polish and excellent symmetry and no trace of fluorescence.“

The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century saw some of the most inventive and technically accomplished jewellery appearing with designers producing clever pieces which could go from day to night and be taken apart and reassembled as different jewels.  Bonhams will be offering a wonderful example in its sale in the form of A Diamond and Sapphire Transformable Necklace by Grassy.  Dated circa 1935, the articulated collar centres on a 34.59 carat Sri Lankan (no heat) sapphire.  Estimated at £120,000-180,000, the necklace may be worn in a number of ways: the sapphire detaches and may be worn as a ring; the entire central plaque of the necklace may be detached and worn as a clip; the plaque clasp detaches and can be worn as a clip and also be worn in the centre of the necklace.  Grassy were and still are one of Spain’s premier jewellers and this lot is also accompanied by the original painted design drawings.


A Collection of Modern British Jewels
The sale will also feature an exceptional collection of jewels from the British Modernist movement, dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, created in the jewellery studios of London.  The collection includes works by Andrew Grima, American-born Charles de Temple, David Thomas and Kutchinsky.  These jewellers championed methods of melting and transforming gold into abstract forms, embracing both shape and texture, before setting the jewels with precious and semi-precious stones.
The jewels were often bespoke commissions, designed for the modern individual to wear, rejecting the more formal and traditional concepts of jewellery design and focused less on the intrinsic value of the materials used and more the design of the piece itself.

Highlights include:
A Diamond and Gold Necklace by Charles De Temple, 1985
The undulating collar features a series of graduating overlaid bi-coloured 18 carat gold 'baton' links, between triangular shaped spacers, highlighted throughout with marquise and brilliant-cut diamonds and beadwork detail.  It is estimated at £5,000-7,000.  This necklace is part of a series by Charles de Temple called ‘nervous jewels’, that were prickly sculptural constructions created from bicoloured gold wire.
American born but London based, Charles De Temple created abstract, one-of-a-kind jewels for the modern woman.  Highly influential during the 1960s and 1970s, De Temple was inspired by nature and abstract modernist art, and his pieces challenged traditional preconceptions of how jewellery should look.

A Gold, Amethyst and Diamond Pendant Necklace from the founder of the modernist movement, Andrew Grima. 
Dated 1971, the necklace centres on a hexagonal amethyst crystal, set within an angular openwork textured surround, suspended from a textured torque with brilliant-cut diamonds accents, mounted in 18 carat gold. It is estimated at £10,000 - 15,000.

A Gold, Green Tourmaline and Diamond Bracelet by David Thomas
Dated circa 1970 and estimated at £6,000-8,000, the tapering openwork bracelet strap formed as a series of stepped rectangular links of abstract design, set with tapered step-cut green tourmalines and scattered baguette-cut diamonds.  

David Thomas is a much-celebrated master goldsmith and one of London’s most respected craftsmen, who was integral to the movement of jewellery born in 1960s London. Thomas trained at the Royal College of Art and worked for Georg Jensen and the Swedish Crown jewellers, before opening his Pimlico store in the 1960s. At the Royal College of Art he was a contemporary of David Hockney. Thomas’ work is exhibited at many institutions, including The Victoria & Albert Museum and The Goldsmiths’ Company. He is known for his exceptionally skilful use of gold, creating highly refined individual jewels, which rarely come up for sale at auction.

Emily Barber commented: “The jewellers represented in this sale: Andrew Grima, David Thomas, Charles de Temple and Kutchinsky were, as well as other contemporary jewellers of the time, influenced by modernist movements in art and architecture of the time. They each held the value of craftsmanship in the highest regard, which resulted in exceptionally skillful hand-worked gold jewels that have retained their contemporary aesthetic to this day.
“The pieces we are offering for sale showcase the bold and readily identifiable style associated with these modernist jewellers, and can be seen as a product of London’s ‘swinging’ scene and the high-octane glamour that was born in the 1960s.”

Additionally, Bonhams will also be offering An Emerald and Diamond 'Two Bees' ring by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co for sale.  This was in the collection of Andy Warhol, who was an avid - yet secretive - collector of jewellery.  Dating from the mid 20th century, the 22.02 carat step-cut emerald, Colombian in origin, sits within an elaborate mount formed of two marquise and brilliant-cut diamond honey bees and two curving brilliant-cut diamond leaves.  It is signed Schlumberger and Tiffany & Co and is estimated at £65,000-85,000.

Emily Barber said: “Andy Warhol adored jewels and created a series of screen prints called Gems featuring various precious stones. One of the prints featured a step-cut emerald.
“Schlumberger, like Warhol, shared a fascination for design, colour, shape and texture and it’s easy to see why Warhol was drawn to this beautiful piece.”

The extent of Warhol’s enthusiasm was only truly known after his death when his manager, Frederick W. Hughes and two curators, discovered a hidden treasure of precious gems and jewels in the storage room of his townhouse.  This revealed a vast collection of sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, watches and Art Deco and contemporary jewellery signed by the most distinguished houses including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany.

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