A rare find, this gold Art Deco brooch is a stunning example of Juliette Moutard’s finest early work for the Parisian jewelry house, René Boivin. Marrying perfectly the crisp, clean designs of Art Deco with the organic, natural forms for which Moutard later became so famed; it is both a beautiful gem and enchanting piece of jewelry history.
The creator of Boivin’s iconic Starfish brooch; Juliette Moutard was fascinated by birds and marine life. Produced in the early 1930s, the yellow gold and diamond brooch predates Moutard’s starfish brooch by several years, yet still looks to the seabed for stimulus. For what might appear a classic crescent brooch at first glance, is conjured from the fluidity of a sea-creature’s tentacle.
Abandoning Deco’s mathematical exactness, the lapel pin’s naturalistic form is exquisitely amplified by the sublime diamond accents. Whereas a lesser hand would have opted for circular or brilliant-cut diamonds, Moutard deliberately used rose-cut diamonds, set somewhat asymmetrically, and high collet settings to add texture and subtlety. A truly three-dimensional jewel, so suggestive of Moutard’s later work, this gold Art Deco brooch will make a fabulous addition to any Boivin collection.
Established in the 1890s by the talented jewelry designer and engraver, René Boivin; the house of Boivin became known for its daring designs. Yet, ironically, the atelier’s most instantly recognisable, enduring works are those created after its founder’s death in 1917.
In bravely assuming control of the company, Jeanne Boivin (René’s widow and sister of the famous couturier, Jean Poiret), became the first female head of a High Jewelry house. Over the next two decades, the savvy Madame Boivin — aided by her daughter, Germaine, and up-and-coming designers, Suzanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard — completely redefined the Boivin aesthetic.
Now, for the first time, women were creating jewelry they wanted to wear… and it was like nothing ever seen before. Taking inspiration from the natural world, the all-female team’s radical designs placed them at the forefront of the avant-garde movement. Indeed, so distinctive was their work, each woman seldom, if ever, signed her pieces, with Belperron famously stating, “My style is my signature”.
By the early 1930s — a time when the likes of Tiffany and Cartier were still producing highly traditional Art Deco jewels — Maison Boivin was rightly celebrated for its ground-breaking creations. Ranging from Boivin’s hard stone jewelry, featuring calcedony and other agates, to Moutard’s superbly engineered marine jewels; these were supremely sophisticated gems for supremely sophisticated women. And as Boivin’s reputation spread, so the trendsetting-elite came flocking.
Boivin’s revolutionary jewels, while undeniably expensive, conveyed so much more than wealth on the wearer. One required a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ (and a healthy dose of chutzpah!) to carry off such original, exciting gems. Adored by the super-chic, Boivin counted leading style-icons, Diana Vreeland, Elsa Schiaparelli and The Duchess of Windsor among its core clientele. For then, as now, Boivin devotees did not slavishly follow fashion. They set it.
In 1932, Belperron left Boivin to work for Bernard Herz, (a leading Parisian stone dealer who supplied Boivin and Cartier, among others), and, in turn, his son, Jean Herz. Here, afforded complete artistic freedom, Belperron’s work took on a sensual, organic form that was singularly her own. Widely considered the most important female jeweler of the 20th century, Belperron’s creations remain hugely sought after. Indeed, in 2018, a Belperron platinum and diamond tube bracelet achieved a sale price of $852,500 at Christie’s New York. (For more information on acquiring or selling Belperron jewelry, please contact Janus Jewels.)
But for all Belperron’s fame, it is the work of her replacement, Juliette Moutard, for which the Parisian jewelry house is best known. Of Boivin’s signature pieces, the most famous is undoubtedly the iconic Starfish brooch, designed by Moutard in 1935. Despite this, she remains relatively unknown to all but jewelry connoisseurs.
Moutard — a former clockmaker — was renowned for her technical brilliance. Her outsized starfish lapel pin — an astonishing, ruby and amethyst-set jewel, with five fully articulated limbs — is one of the most influential jewelry designs of the 20th century. A masterpiece of jewelry engineering, the original now resides at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
Moutard’s innovative jewelry is both hugely admired and highly prized by leading collectors around the world. When, exceptionally, her work does appear for sale, it is quickly snapped up.
Created during her formative years at Boivin; Moutard’s gold Art Deco brooch provides an early indication of the illustrious career that was to follow. The precise design-detail and impeccable production, so characteristic of her later work, are there for all to see.
As fashionable now as the day it was created, this rare, early jewel by Moutard will make a magnificent addition to any serious jewelry compendium. Whether you are an established Boivin collector or simply a true ‘Boivin woman’ at heart (strong, independent and with an eye for the unusual!), don’t delay. To secure this enchanting piece of Art Deco history, contact Janus Jewels, today.