ART DECO NATURAL PEARL, EMERALD, AND DIAMOND PENDANT BROOCH BY VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, PARIS, 1926

SOLD

A brooch of interlaced geometric motif set with mixed-cut diamonds supporting articulated diamond and pearl cascading fringes suspending detachable pendant drops of pearl, diamond, and emerald; mounted in platinum with French assay marks

  • 1 emerald drop, weighing 13.57 carats
  • 1 drop-shaped natural pearl, weighing approximately 56 grains
  • Signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered 28051
  • Length: 4 5/8 inches

Additional cataloguing

Certification

  • Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) Test Report no. 65526, dated October 19, 2012, stating that thedrop-shaped, polished and drilledemerald drop of approximately 14 carats is of Colombian origin.
  • Gemological Institute of America Natural Pearl Identification Report, dated February 13, 2013, stating that the drop pearl is a natural saltwaterpearl and is white in color.
  • The Gem & Pearl Laboratory report no. 06785, dated November 30, 2012, stating that the five drilled pearls, 7.9 mm to 7.0 mm in width, are natural pearls (saltwater).

 

Provenance

  • Sir Henri Deterding and Lady Lydia Deterding (Lydia Pavlovna Koudoyaroff )

 

Biography

Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and his two brothers-in-law, Charles and Julian Arpels, at 22 Place Vendôme, Paris. Their important design innovations include the invisible setting, the minaudière and the Zip necklace. In 1939, they opened an office in Rockefeller Center in New York, moving three years later to 744 Fifth Avenue where they are today. Their impressive client list includes royalty, socialites, and Hollywood stars such as Jackie Kennedy, Princess Grace, Liz Taylor, and the Duchess of Windsor. In 1999, Van Cleef & Arpels became part of the Richemont Group. They have locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

 

Significance

During the 1920s, great change swept the arts from architecture to painting to jewelry design. Technological changes created faster cars and taller buildings.Throughout the arts, colors became brighter, shapes were more geometric, andpieces reflected movement and the excitement of the era. Movements such as Cubism, championed by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Robert Delaunay, focused with mathematical precision on depictions of space, mass, and volume.

This brooch is the quintessential example of an Art Deco design. Delightfullyprescient, this jewel reflected the changes to come in the jewelry industrythrough the late 1920s and 1930s as designers moved to abstraction and a white palette with touches of bright color. Focusing on architectural elements, the jewel is a labyrinthine construction of squares, rectangles, and circles of diamonds and pearls. The graduated stones and elongated baguettes combined with the articulated cascades create a feeling of movement, evocative of an early Piet Mondrian painting. Created as a brooch with detachable pendant drops, the piece could be worn on the shoulder of an elongated evening gown, reflecting the slinky silhouettes of the era.

Purchased by Sir Henri Deterding in 1926, this jewel was likely for his wife, noted jewelry collector Lady Lydia Deterding. An oil magnate, Henri was Director General of the Royal Dutch-Shell Company. Of Russian birth, Lady Lydia was a friend of the Romanovs and Yusupovs and purchased jewels directly from Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna after she fled Russia. Lady Lydia’s legendary collection included stunning examples of Cartier, Fabergé, and Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as a pearl necklace that belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna and the Polar Star diamond that belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov.

This exceptional pendant brooch is a perfect example of an Art Deco jewel at its best. Combining magnificent design with impeccable stones and provenance, this is an important example of twentieth century design. Displaying the excitement of the era in which it was created, this brooch would make a stunning addition to any collection.

Lady Lydia Deterding painted by Philip de László, 1928. The placement of her hand to show off her large emerald ring and natural pearl necklace demonstrates the importance of her jewelry collection.

The original drawing of the brooch from the Van Cleef & Arpels archive.