ART DECO DIAMOND NAUTILUS-SHELL EAR CLIPSBY SUZANNE BELPERRON FOR RENÉ BOIVIN, PARIS, 1933

SOLD

A pair of diamond-set ear clips, each designed as a spiral shell; mounted in platinum and gold

  • 142 diamonds
  • Copy of original design drawing
  • Each ear clip: 1 5/8 × 7/8 inches

Additional cataloguing

Literature

  • Cailles, Françoise. René Boivin: Joaillier. Paris: Quartet Books, 1994, p. 271 (drawing).
  • Corbett, Patricia, et. al. Jewelry by Suzanne Belperron. London: Thames & Hudson, 2015, p. 69.“
  • An Earful of Jewels,” Vogue, February 1934, pp. 34–35.

 

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.

 

Significance

Fashion and style in the 1930s tempered the excess and romanticism of the 1920s with more restrained looks that were also heavily tailored. Hemlines were lowered, waists cinched, and décolletage covered, but the necklines also became more interesting with unusual square shapes and various tailored lapels and collars. These changes lead to a refined look that was both more sober for the depression era, and also more considered and intentional. The changing fashions required strong feminine jewelry, and the editors of fashion magazines often chose those by Suzanne Belperron for René Boivin, such as these nautilus-shell earrings.

In the 1920s, under the leadership of Jeanne Boivin and head designer Belperron, Boivin began to create wonderful sculptural jewels that were different from the formal pieces created by other fine jewelers in the Art Deco period. Under the hand of Belperron, Boivin’s pieces became curvaceous and transformed when worn on the body. This striking and unusual pair of ear clips takes the spiral of a nautilus shell and creates it in diamonds. Belperron carefully considered the form of the shell and the technical aspects of the earring; in an unusual move, she designed the curve of the shell to climb the rim of the ear. Imaginative and striking, the ear clips were featured in Vogue in 1934 with models bearing strikingly spiraled finger curl coiffures that were clearly inspired by the curves of the Boivin nautilus ear clips.

Belperron left Boivin to start a venture under her own name in 1932, and these ear clips were one of her last designs for the company. By the time she left, she had developed a striking and recognizable aesthetic and spirals were a form Belperron explored throughout her design career. The magnificent nautilus-shell ear clips designed by Belperron for Boivin, are an iconic design that are just as striking and wearable today as they were in Vogue in 1934.

 

The original Boivin design drawing for the shell earrings, 1933.

The nautilus shell earrings by Belperron for Boivin featured in Vogue, February 15, 1934.

The ear clips are shown off to great effect against a spiraled hairstyle in this Hoyningen-Huene photograph.