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GOLD, RUBY AND DIAMOND NECKLACE BY RENÉ BOIVIN, PARIS, CIRCA 1950

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A necklace composed of a flexible band of sculpted gold set with cabochon rubies and round diamonds, within a roped-gold surround; mounted in 18-karat yellow gold, with French assay marks

  • 25 cabochon rubies, total weighing approximately 37.5 carats
  • 82 diamonds, total weighing approximately 4 carats
  • Signed René Boivin
  • Inner circumference: 16 inches, width: 3/4 inch

Additional cataloguing

Literature

cf: Cailles, Françoise. René Boivin: Jeweler. London: Quartet Books, 1994. p. 329.

 

Biography

René Boivin founded his company in the 1890s. After his death in 1917, his wife, Jeanne Boivin—the sister of fashion designer Paul Poiret—presided over the firm. Assisted by her daughter Germaine and designers Suzanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard, Jeanne oversaw production of some of the most inspired jewelry of the twentieth century. The house is known for pieces with a strong, sculptural style as well as designs based on nature. After Jeanne’s death in 1959, Germaine Boivin and Juliette Moutard ran the company until it was sold in the 1970s. While the firm has been sold a number of times, no jewelry is currently produced under the Boivin name.

 

Significance

When Jeanne Boivin assumed responsibility of the Boivin jewelry firm following the death of her husband, she didn’t closely alight with the mainstream jewelers of place Vendôme. The sister of the sensational and successful couturier Paul Poiret, Jeanne had close ties with the fashion elite in Paris, and her own ideas of jewelry design would become immeasurably influential. With the help of the talented designers she hired (all female), Jeanne Boivin created jewels that were original and modern and quite different from her male counterparts. By the 1930s, with the influence of such designers as Suzanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard, Boivin’s innovative jewels became more bold and sculptural with curved edges and large-scale size.

In 1947, Christian Dior introduced the New Look, a radical change for fashion that featured nipped-in waists and structured suit jackets over full shin-length skirts. An escape from the stiff wartime utility fashions, the New Look brought back femininity and shapely necklines creating the perfect space for a glittering gold necklace. The “Hindu” necklace from Boivin was a desirable design created in rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings in yellow gold set with diamonds, emeralds, or rubies. The inspiration for the Hindu was twofold: Indian jewely motifs and passementarie, elaborate fabric trimmings.

This Hindu necklace features the rare and desirable combination of cabochon rubies accented by diamonds all set in gold. The color combination evokes Mughal court jewelry, which most frequently featured deep rubies signifying blood, strength, and life. Geometric motifs centering the rubies and diamonds are fully articulated; the piece is meant to be supple as Boivin looked to fabric sources for the roped gold cord. This iconic Boivin design is just as wearable today as when it was first created.

This Kanthi (Necklace for a Prince) was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Al Thani collection. From circa 1850, this is the type of necklace Boivin was looking to for inspiration in the design of their “Hindu” necklace.

The necklace takes its inspiration from the colors and shapes of Indian jewelry. Here you can see a geometry borrowed from Indian designs, streamlined into a modern creation by Boivin.