BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Exquisite brooches, including a midcentury modern design in turquoise and diamonds from Van Cleef & Arpels; a Schlumberger flower with hinged diamond petals; a 40-carat deep blue aquamarine motif by Raymond Yard, jeweler to Rockefellers and Rothchilds; and a grass-green emerald four leaf clover from 1893 by Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co. have been dazzling preview guests at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers this week.
Alexander Eblen, Director of Fine Jewelry and Timepieces, described the collection and why brooches are sought after suddenly:
“Recently, Art Deco was what everyone wanted, and that will always be popular, but we are seeing pieces from the 1950s and 1960s capturing people’s interest. With pop culture enthusiasm for Mad Men and other hit shows, there is an interest in the jewelry from that period when brooches were so popular.
“We are proud to present the work of the fascinating Jean Schlumberger. He began making buttons at Schiaparelli, and when the company’s jewelry boutique opened, he was transferred there. By the mid-1950s, he was on the world scene, designing for royalty and other wealthy clients. Tiffany set no budget restrictions, and he worked with the finest of gems, insisting that his designs be produced in France.
“One of his pieces in the auction is an articulated flower brooch, set in platinum, with each petal able to be moved. You can literally make your brooch blossom.”
Another rags-to-riches story equally fascinates Eblen, an ardent jewelry historian:
“Raymond Yard was a paperboy whose route took him to the home of the head of the jewelry design firm Marcus & Co. The head of that company was a former Tiffany employee who had represented Tiffany at the Paris Exposition in 1878.
“When Raymond’s father was dying of consumption, he persuaded that family to take Raymond in. He started out working as a doorman and doing all sorts of odd jobs, and at the age of 13, he began working for the Marcus sons.
“He met J.P. Morgan, who encouraged him and set him up in the jewelry business in 1922. He headed his own firm for 40 years and had clients such as Rothschilds and Rockefellers. The aquamarine brooch that we have shows the fine colored stones that he used—the color just glows.”
Amid the 1300-lot collection of important jewelry available at auction April 23 and 24, similarly stunning bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, and cuff links are sure to stir equal temptation among bidders from all over the world.
Although owners of many of the pieces are described solely as “property of a lady,” the auction does offer the collection of exceptional jewelry from the estate of Beverly Pierson Carmichael Bradley, a volunteer leader who founded the Indiana Art Museum on the Lilly estate in Indianapolis. In her career, she began the Fashion Fair, a Kansas City modeling agency and party planning company, and worked extensively in real estate.
The key piece in her collection is a platinum and Golconda-type diamond ring with a marquise setting that Eden praises for its color and clarity. More casual pieces include a linked Buccellati necklace and lapis lazuli ring.
Jamie Henderson, Associate Specialist at Leslie Hindman, gives sound advice when purchasing (and altering) jewelry:
“Most people do not keep original boxes or sleeves, but Beverly Bradley kept everything. She had all the receipts and paperwork. If you are going to have a chain shortened, or you want to sell, or get insurance for a piece, the first thing to be established is authenticity. With the paperwork, you will be able to go to the design house when something needs to be repaired.”
One of Henderson’s favorite pieces in the auction is a cuff bracelet, fascinating in its detail:
“Sometimes in midcentury jewelry, you will see recycling of charms and other pieces. I like this cuff bracelet because it is obviously a new piece with intriguing stones and intaglios set into it. It can be casual or elegant for evening.”
Ropes of coral, charm bracelets, pendants with lapis and coral plaques, cufflinks worthy of any “Mad Man,” and those beautiful brooches accentuate the midcentury feel of the auction.
But Eblen assures us that there is something for everyone, no matter what decade or design you love:
“Whether someone is a discerning collector or a person interested in accessorizing a favorite fashion, we have pieces that will go for a few hundred dollars, and then others that could go for $100,000. When we go across the county for a fishing expedition, you never know what you might find, but this was a wonderful hunt. Many estates we are now seeing do have the midcentury glamor we see in the auction.”
To learn more about the April 23 and 24 Important Jewelry Auction, visit lesliehindman.com.