ART DECO GEOMETRIC BROOCH BY GÉRARD SANDOZ, PARIS, CIRCA 1927

A brooch composed of layered geometric shapes centering a peaked polished gold rectangle set with onyx rectangles and a platinum rod through the center, layered over frosted rock crystal triangles over a diamond pave triangle; mounted in 18-karat yellow gold and platinum

  • 46 round diamonds
  • Signed Gérard Sandoz
  • Measurements: 2 × 2 × 3/4 inches

Additional cataloguing

Biography

Art Deco designer Gérard Sandoz was born into a family of clockmakers and jewelers in Paris in 1902. Instructed in modern art by his uncle Paul Follot, from an early age he contributed designs to Maison Sandoz. Also a poster designer and painter, his graphic influence is evident in his jewelry and objects. He exhibited at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes and modern salons in Paris. He closed the firm in 1931 to focus on painting and cinema.

 

Significance

Gérard Sandoz made his fantastic jewelry for only a brief time at the height of the Art Deco period. From 1920–1931, he worked for his family firm creating bold geometric jewels, vanity cases, and decorative objects such as tea sets. Sandoz was strongly influenced by the advances in technology and the excitement of 1920s Paris. Charming and witty, Sandoz was known to love fast cars, gambling, and the excitement of nightlife at Maxim’s. He said, “Let us simply live for our era: we have already been won over by it’s astonishing charm, its unequaled power, and its formidable spirit.”

His designs were primarily composed of layered geometric motifs with materials chosen for color and contrast, rather than inherent value. Sandoz said, “It’s possible to make very beautiful jewelry simply with gold and to make horrors with rivers of diamonds.” Centering on a platinum rod passing through a peaked gold rectangle with gold and onyx “teeth,” like those on a gear, this brooch draws inspiration directly from the machines Sandoz loved. The center element is layered on a background of frosted rock crystal on a pave-diamond triangle. In this masterful brooch Sandoz reversed the typical order of materials in a piece of fine jewelry, which typically featured the most precious stones, with metal as a mere mount. Here, Sandoz uses the diamonds as a background, while exploiting the polished gold as the central element. The result is an iconic and important design masterpiece.

Sandoz was an energetic artist, moving from jewelry to graphic design to painting and back. In the late-1920s, when he created his most important geometric jewels, he was also designing striking posters for brands such as Tracta cars, Selnos Vichy water and Nicolas liquor featuring products reduced to geometric elements. This brooch, created of pure geometric construction reflecting the movement and excitement of 1920s Paris, is one of the most important jewels from this design visionary and would be an important addition to any collection.

A model wearing Sandoz jewelry including a geometric rock crystal, onyx, and diamond brooch pinned to her turban, circa 1927.

A photograph by Thérèse Bonney of the Sandoz boutique, circa 1927, showing a smaller triangular brooch affixed to a hat by Germaine Page.