Handmade jewelry vintage Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond mystery set ‘pavot’ brooch

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS 'PAVOT' BROOCH

SIGNED JEWELS

Mystery set Burmese ruby and brilliant cut diamond brooch.
Paris c. 1954, signed and numbered

Handmade jewelry vintage Tiffany art deco bracelet

TIFFANY & CO. ART DECO DIAMOND BRACELET

SIGNED JEWELS

Rare & exquisite platinum strap-bracelet, set with vari-cut and brilliant cut diamonds. Signed Tiffany & Co.

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Handmade jewelry vintage Van Cleef & Arpels coral and diamond 'Rose de Noël' ear clips

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS ‘ROSE DE NOËL’ EAR CLIPS

SIGNED JEWELS

Coral and diamond ear clips.
Paris, signed and numbered

SIGNED JEWELS

UNFORGETTABLE JEWELRY — AS DESIRABLE TODAY AS THE DAY IT WAS MADE

When, in the 1860s, the world’s great jewelers began signing their works, they could not have anticipated the effect their etched moniker would have. Individually special, beautifully crafted, yet always of a known ‘type’; today, specific signed

handmade jewelry — vintage

by definition — remains highly sought after. From René Lalique’s exquisitely enamelled art nouveau creations to Hermès instantly recognisable Chaîne d'Ancre collection of the 1960s and 1970s, John C. Kulukundis’ expert knowledge and exemplary contacts afford access to an international network of serious collectors wishing to buy or sell. Whether you are looking to add to your existing collection or seeking to realise its worth, Kulukundis knows the jewel or the buyer that you require.
Handmade jewelry vintage Van Cleef & Arpels coral and diamond 'Rose de Noël' brooch

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
CORAL AND DIAMOND 'ROSE DE NOËL' BROOCH

TIMELESS JEWELS

Jewelry has always followed the fashion of its day. But, as with all great design, certain works of signed, vintage jewelry have refused to be defined by anything so cumbersome as an era. Like a John Nash Georgian townhouse or a Hermès Birkin bag, where once these creations were wonderfully high fashion, now they are timeless, instantly recognisable and more highly coveted than their creators could ever have conceived.

Statement jewelry of ageless appeal, these are pieces to wear day in day out, as illustrated so perfectly by Tiffany & Co.’s eternally elegant platinum and diamond ‘cocktail’ strap-bracelet. A recent Janus Jewels’ acquisition, this sublime example of the atelier’s renowned art deco work — each exquisite diamond full fancy cut and polished to fit — is definitive proof that true style never dies.

Every serious collection of note includes signed vintage jewelry from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari. However, one must appreciate that desirability and worth depend not just on the atelier, maker and style-period, but on the specific design, itself.

DESIGNS OF DESIRE

SO, WHO ARE THE DESIGNERS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST OF TIME?

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

Adored from the moment they pirouetted into VCA’s collection in the early 1940s, through to their final bow in the late 1960s; Louis Arpels’ original, wonderfully joyous Ballerina Clips, with their rose cut diamond faces, are highly collectable. While some ‘daywear’ dancers were rendered in gold and embellished with turquoise and rubies, the more dazzling evening collection was purely a platinum, diamond, ruby and emerald affair.

Other Van Cleef & Arpels works of note include their quintessentially elegant Flame brooches set with circular and baguette cut diamonds, and ‘Rose de Noël’ coral or mother of pearl ‘flowerhead’ ear clips, with their diamond cluster centres.

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
RUBY AND DIAMOND BALLERINA BROOCH 1950

CARTIER

The creative genius of Jeanne Toussaint is invariably highly prized. Artistic director for Haute Joaillerie from 1933-1970, Toussaint is best known for Cartier’s Panthère and ‘Great Cat’ jewels of the 1930s, of which the Duchess of Windsor was so fond. But her brilliance was also behind Cartier’s iconic amethyst and turquoise pieces, which saw semi-precious stones transformed into High Jewelry — and the striking color combination of purple and blue forever linked with the name Cartier.  Toussaint’s ‘grain de café’ or coffee bean suites, together with Cartier’s bejewelled novelty brooches — a flamboyant menagerie of animals set with innovative combinations of diamonds and semi-precious stones — are very much in demand.

Also, of note is Cartier collaborators, Henri Picq and Henri Lavabre’s handmade jewelry. Their vintage diamond-set strap bracelets of the 1920s and 1930s are especially collectable.

Handmade jewelry vintage Cartier amethyst turquoise and diamond gold ring 1960

CARTIER
AMETHYST TURQUOISE AND DIAMOND GOLD RING 1960

RENÉ LALIQUE

The revered glassmaker, Lalique initially rose to fame as an art nouveau master jeweler. His revolutionary work combined exquisite enamelling and glasswork with not just gold and gemstones, but also lesser materials such as mother of pearl, ivory and horn. Along with his somewhat more traditional, 19th century contemporary, Henri Vever (whose work is also in demand), Lalique was one of the first jewelers to register his mark and sign his work accordingly.


Handmade jewelry vintage Lalique enamel rock crystal and diamond brooch 1910

LALIQUE
ENAMEL ROCK CRYSTAL AND DIAMOND BROOCH 1910

MAISON BOIVIN AND SUZANNE BELPERRON

Ironically, Boivin’s innovative jewelry that is still so recognisable today is not the work of its founder, René Boivin, but chiefly that of a young jewelry designer, Suzanne Belperron, who joined the firm in 1919, two years after René’s death. An anomaly of its time, with René’s passing, Maison Boivin became the first prestigious jewelry firm to be run by a woman: his widow, Jeanne. Over the next thirteen years, the two women, with Suzanne as co-director, redefined the company’s aesthetic.

Boivin as a brand became famous for hard stone jewelry made from chalcedony and other agates, and also its marine jewels, using cabochon cut stones — the most famous being the Starfish Jewels. Originally designed in 1936 by Juliette Moutarde, examples continued to be produced for many decades. Boivin’s metamorphic torque necklaces and bangles of the 1970s are also noteworthy.

Belperonn’s work, both during her time at Boivin and in her subsequent, illustrious career, often featured rock crystal and chalcedony to stunning effect. A maverick modernist, revered for her superb artistry and understated elegance; Belperonn seldom mixed diamonds and colored stones, eschewing the use of either as accents. The only female jeweler to have been considered a master of her craft during her lifetime; she did not need to over embellish her distinctive creations. They shined with a singular light of their own.

Widely considered the most important female jeweler of the 20th century, Belperron never signed her unique pieces, stating, “My style is my signature.” This, together with Jeanne Boivin’s disinclination to sign pieces, can cause identification issues for the uneducated eye. Accordingly, if a work’s provenance is ever in doubt, Janus Jewels consults with a Belperonn expert for verification.

Handmade jewelry vintage Cartier amethyst turquoise and diamond gold ring 1960

SUZANNE BELPERRON
STAR SAPPHIRE, CHALCEDONY & DIAMOND RING

JEAN DESPRÉS AND RAYMOND TEMPLIER

Jewelers of the machine age, Després and Templier’s cubic, abstract designs see art deco at its most pared-down, uncompromising and bold. Neither was especially interested in working with precious materials, with the majority of their work set in silver or, in Templier’s case, sometimes white gold. Gems were conspicuous largely through their absence. If a precious stone was used, it was typically a white diamond, due to its lack of color and ability to reflect light — although onyx, coral, turquoise and colored lacquers made appearances, in keeping with the fashionable colors of the time. Stunning in their simplicity, these designs still resonate today.

Handmade jewelry vintage Raymond Templier silver gold and onyx ring 1930

RAYMOND TEMPLIER
SILVER, GOLD AND ONYX RING, 1930

BULGARI

Esteemed for its creativity and bold, sophisticated designs, the Roman jeweler’s Serpenti and Tubogas jewelry from the 1960s to the early 1980s is particularly prized. The collections, while disparate in design inspiration (a snake … and a gas pipe), are both acclaimed for their sleek fluidity — achieved through hours of high craftsmanship that sees each link individually hinged by hand. Coiling realistically around its wearer, each Serpenti jewel is especially astonishing. Bulgari’s 1960s and 1970s curb-link gold jewelry, and Monete collection, with its ancient coin motif, are also pursued.

Handmade jewelry vintage Bulgari tubogas watch c. 1975

BULGARI
TUBOGAS WATCH C. 1975

TIFFANY & CO.

Rising to prominence during the 1920s and 1930s, Tiffany & Co. embraced the Jazz Age with both hands. With its own, well-established diamond cutting factory, the American jeweler was perfectly placed to provide the superb platinum and diamond jewelry so beloved by the High Society of the time. Tiffany’s remarkably finessed art deco designs, created entirely in house, made full use of innovatively shaped, full cut stones, resulting in geometric works of ageless appeal.

Equally striking is the legacy of the French visionary, Jean Schlumberger. One of only four designers that Tiffany has allowed to sign their work, Schlumberger’s highly individual designs included diamonds set distinctively in platinum with gold overlay — and vibrant gold, diamond and turquoise jewels. The diamonds, invariably used as accents, allowed the semi-precious stones to take centre stage. Inspired heavily by nature, Schlumberger’s iconic ‘Fish’ and ‘Bird on a Rock’ brooches remain favourites. In 1995, the famous Tiffany Yellow Diamond (at 128.51 carats, once the largest, finest yellow diamond in the world), was remounted in the latter design, in homage to the great designer.

DRAYSON

Contemporaries of Tiffany & Co. and Boivin, Drayson’s dramatic art deco jewelry designs were always of the highest quality. Whether gem set diamond jewelry of subtle sophistication or bold ruby and diamond works, their timeless style ensures a fervent following to this day.

Handmade jewelry vintage Raymond Yard ruby and diamond platinum double clip brooch 1930

© Raymond Yard Estate

RAYMOND YARD
RUBY AND DIAMOND PLATINUM DOUBLE CLIP BROOCH 1930

1920s TO 1950s

Coveted designs include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Raymond Yard and Boucheron’s yellow gold tank bracelets of the 1940s, and the leading ateliers’ ‘double clip’ brooches from the 1920s through to the 1950s — an era when you weren’t a lady unless you had at least one of each.

Handmade jewelry vintage Raymond Yard ruby and diamond platinum double clip brooch 1930

© Raymond Yard Estate

RAYMOND YARD
RUBY AND DIAMOND PLATINUM DOUBLE CLIP BROOCH 1930

1960s AND 1970s GOLD

The heavy gold jewelry designs of the great jewelry houses, together with Hermès’ gold and silver Chaîne d'Ancre necklaces and bracelets, are extremely collectable. Of special note is Cartier’s gold jewelry by Aldo Cipullo (including Cartier’s iconic Love Bracelet), and Dinh Van — the only two designers ever permitted to add their names to the house’s signature.

Handmade jewelry vintage Hèrmes chaîne d'ancre gold bracelet 1970

HERMÈS
CHAÎNE D'ANCRE GOLD BRACELET 1970

FROM SIGNED TO IMPORTANT

At its most extreme, signed vintage jewelry crosses the divide to become important jewelry in its own right. While undeniably high value, high fashion works at the time of inception, these hugely coveted pieces now attract stellar prices at important jewels sales. Classic examples being Harry Winston’s diamond cluster earrings and Cartier’s panthère collection and Tutti Frutti bracelets of the 1930s. In April 2020, a gem set diamond and enamel Tutti Frutti bracelet, of particularly impressive size, became the most expensive jewel ever sold in an online-only auction, when it achieved a record-breaking $1.34 million (including Buyers’ Premium) at Sotheby’s, New York.

Handmade jewelry vintage Cartier The Duchess of Windsor panther bracelet

CARTIER
THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR PANTHER BRACELET