Sotheby's | Design, Fashion & Historic Jewels

by Drew Penner

Ahead of their April 17th sale, Frank Everett, Senior Director of Sotheby’s Luxury Division, and Quig Bruning, Sotheby’s Los Angeles jewelry specialist, will be on hand for a discussion about how historic jewel collections continue to influence the modern fashion world. The talk will be in Sotheby’s Los Angeles with preview exhibition hours: March 19-20, 2019 from 10am – 5 pm and by appointment. Carol Elkins, Sotheby's senior jewelry specialist, and Marion Fasel, the founder and Editorial Director of online jewelry magazine The Adventurine, will also participate in the panel. You can peep old school jewels from the 19th century and more recently uncovered fare, at the Sotheby's Spring Jewelry Highlights show.  

In 2018 Sotheby’s banged out an impressive $414 million in total jewelry sales, according to National Jeweler. But the auction house will be hoping the jewelry on display at the exhibition will help them best that number this time 'round, since those sales were down from the $551.3 million they brought in the previous year.

If you hit up their spring jewelry round-up to examine the vintage jewels on display by brands like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, you may wonder if any of the prized items will rival the buzz of the 2017 sale of “The CTF Pink,” which was taken home by private Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook for a cool $71.2 million. And you might even get to try some of the stones on for size. We caught a word with Frank Everett for a quick preview on what glimmering stones were in store for us.

Do you feel that the current fashion landscape is creating a culture which references the historic jewelry's craftsmanship and designs in a literal sense or more in the conceptual way.

Certain design motifs are evergreen: serpents, tassels and flowers all come to mind and are referenced over and over again in new ways, with a nod to the past. I think blackened metal is a major element of antique jewelry (silver-topped gold that has tarnished) that has been appropriated by edgier, contemporary designers who are using new techniques to achieve that look (rhodium plating, black gold and titanium to name a few). 

How do you see today's luxury fine jewelry market making a mark on tomorrows historical jewelry? What design aesthetic do you see leaving a mark?

If I’m choosing one design innovation from today’s jewels that will last? I think gradient (or hombre) colored pavé is very important. Using the full spectrum of colored stones in a “painterly” way has offered limitless possibilities for the jeweler’s art. 

What are the top pieces from the selection that you feel will pull in the most attention?

Enamel and Diamond Demi-Parure, Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co.

Enamel and Diamond Demi-Parure, Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co.

Without question, the Paulding Farnham ( made in 1904 for TIffany & Co.) diamond and enamel necklace is so special, so rare and in such impeccable condition, it will have the most jaded collectors buzzing. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, the likes of which very few people have seen. 

What is your opinion on the contemporary place for fine jewelry?

I’m consistently amazed with contemporary design innovations and re-interpretation. You’d think, after thousands of years it has all been done. A ring is round, earrings hang from lobes, bracelets encircle wrists. But jewelers continue to find fresh, new ways to create objects of beauty to adorn the body. 

Los Angeles preview exhibition hours: March 19-20, 2019 from 10am – 5 pm and by appointment

Jewels from both the Magnificent Jewels and Fine Jewels auctions will also be on view in NY from April 12-16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Sotheby's