BELLE EPOQUE DIAMOND AND ROCK CRYSTAL DEVANT DE CORSAGE BY CARTIER, PARIS, 1913

SOLD: Acquired by the Cartier Collection

A sculpted rock crystal double bow devant de corsage composed of foliage carved rock crystal ribbon loops accented with diamond details and embellished with collet-set diamond trim and fringe, centering an old-European-cut diamond knot within a two-tiered collet-set diamond surround, suspending a similarly designed detachable pear-shaped carved rock crystal pendant; mounted in millegrained platinum with French assay marks; in the original red leather Cartier box

  • 298 old-mine-cut and old-European-cut diamonds, total weighing 23.74 carats
  • 354 Rose-cut diamonds, total weighing 6.06 carats
  • Signed Cartier Paris
  • Measurements: 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches

Additional cataloguing

Literature

  • Becker, Vivienne. The Impossible Collection of Jewelry.New York: Assouline, 2013, pl. 14.
  • Price, Judith. Masterpieces of French Jewelry. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2006, p. 59.
  • Young-Sánchez, Margaret, et. al. Cartier in the 20th Century. New York: The Vendome Press, 2014, p. 25.

Exhibitions

  • Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, Denver Art Museum, Denver, November 16, 2014–March 15, 2015.
  • Cartier and America, Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, December 19, 2009–May 9, 2010.
  • Cartier . . . 100 Years of Passion and Free Spirit in America, Cartier, New York, May 1–21, 2009; Cartier, Beverly Hills, June 1–June 14, 2009.
  • Masterpieces of French Jewelry, The Forbes Galleries, New York, September 22–December 30, 2006; Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, February 10–June 10, 2007.

 

Biography

Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His three grandsons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, built the house into a famous international jewelry empire serving royalty, Hollywood stars, and socialites. Cartier has created some of the most important

jewelry and objects of art of the twentieth century with many iconic designs such as mystery clocks, Tutti Frutti jewelry and the Panthère line. In 1983, The Cartier Collection was established with the objective of acquiring important pieces that trace the firm’s artistic evolution. Today, Cartier has 200 stores in 125 countries.

 

Significance

The diamond-set bow brooch, like the ubiquitous flower brooch, was a popular form at the turn of the twentieth century with nearly every jewelry house, both large and small, creating them. Tiffany & Co. designed an openwork bowknot with laurel leaves; Carrington and Co. designed a fancy diamond ribbon bow brooch for Queen Mary in 1893; and Chaumet produced a Greek fret work bow suspending diamonds enpampille. As impressive and museum-worthy as these pieces are, they do not compare to the magnificence of the Cartier rock crystal bow brooch. No other house attempted to utilize rock crystal in the light, lace-like way Cartier did, and this brooch epitomized the jewelry house’s innovation.

For this 1913 brooch, Cartier created a harmonious union of carved rock crystal, diamond, and platinum, in a stunning all-white jewel employing the delicate foliate scrollwork popular during that era on an unusual material and in a larger scale. This bow brooch demonstrates the inventive prowess and technical skill of Cartier at the turn of the century.

This devant de corsage is Cartier’s pièce de résistance and has been well documented in exhibitions. Today it would be impossible to reproduce this rare jewel of a bygone era, emblematic of artistic magnitude and historic importance.