Pearl brooch from jeweller who supplied gems to Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly for sale at Bonhams

Fine Jewellery
6 Dec 2012
London, New Bond Street

Stunning diamonds and exquisite designs by Van Cleef & Arpels among top lots

Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale on 6th December offers an exquisite selection of striking designs by leading jewellers including rare pieces with unusual settings, high-quality diamonds, Burmese rubies, emeralds and pearls at New Bond Street, London.

Top lots in the sale include several stunning designs by pioneering jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels. A rare art deco natural pearl, emerald and diamond brooch from 1926, estimated at £250,000 - 350,000 is one of the highlights. The surmount is designed as a geometric labyrinth of old brilliant, step, square, baguette and single cut diamonds and there are two main pendants, one emerald and one pearl.

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been known as one of the most innovative and well established jewellers in the world. Members of the Royal family such as the Prince of Wales and A-list celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly bought some of their finest pieces from the renowned jeweller.

Other top Art Deco pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels are a ruby and diamond bracelet from 1923, estimated at £40,000 - 60,000 and a ruby and diamond ring from circa 1940. Both pieces feature the highest quality Burmese rubies.

Jean Ghika, Director of the Jewellery Department for the UK and Europe said "Van Cleef & Arpels have a long tradition of expertise and it is clear to see why their designs attracted the great and the good. It is a pleasure to offer such striking examples of their designs, especially the unusual art deco pearl, diamond and emerald brooch and the Burmese ruby and diamond ring and bracelet. High quality pieces like this are much sought-after."

Among the rarest pieces in the sale is a Spanish Colonial gold, enamel and gem-set pendant from the 17th Century, estimated at £60,000 - 80,000. It is an extremely unusual item which has never been seen on the auction market before, and has been owned by the same family since the early 19th Century. A rare survivor from the 17th Century, this pendant exemplifies the intricate designs of this period, which were both valuable and highly fashionable.

South American species of parrot were an exotic and valuable commodity and live birds were frequently traded for high prices to wealthy Spaniards in Madrid. The fascination with these exotic creatures led Spanish Colonial jewellers to translate the image into contemporary jewellery designs, and by the late 16th Century the parrot came to typify Spanish jewellery design. It is likely that the stunning example on offer, which includes cabochon emeralds and rubies, was created in South or Central America, where cabochon jewels were more commonly used than faceted stones.

The top lot in the sale is a diamond single-stone ring, made circa 1935 and estimated at £315,000 - 440,000. The Asscher-cut diamond weighs 19.56 carats and is I colour and VVS2 clarity. Joseph and Abraham Asscher, sons of the original founder of The Royal Asscher Diamond Company became two of the most illustrious diamond experts of the 20th Century and handled some of the world's greatest diamonds, such as the Excelsior and the Culinan. Legend surrounds the cutting of the 3,106 carat Culinan, with rumours that Joseph fainted once the cleaving strike was made. The truth of the matter was that after the cleaving strike was made, he paused, crouched to examine his work and then rushed into the next room to let out a relieved cheer.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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