The auction, held live online, was led by an outstanding example of 19th century revivalism. This beautifully worked gold and enamel bracelet centrally set with a carnelian intaglio carried the maker’s mark GM for Neapolitan jeweller Giacinto Melillo (1846-1915).
Charlotte Peel GG , Head of Jewellery & Silver in London, said “We were pleased with the results for signed jewellery in last week’s sale, with wonderful examples of Lalique, Melillo, Cartier and John Donald demonstrating that the appetite for top quality designer’s jewellery remains strong, regardless of the economic climate.”
A gifted student of Etruscan, Roman, Greek and Byzantine art, Melillo trained under Alessandro Castellani and by the age of just 24 was running the Castellani workshop in Naples.
This bracelet, offered in a wooden maker's case, dated from c.1880 by which time Melillo was a regular on the international exhibition circuit (between 1870 and 1900 he received five gold medals). Estimated at up to £15,000, it sold for £35,000 including premium.
Also in a case by Melillo, a pendant formed as two mermaids - probably Parthenope, symbol of Naples - set around a citrine with pearl drops sold for £5,750 while an an archaeological revival beadwork and rope-twist gold bracelet set with a series of seven carnelian scarabs took £5,250.
A Lalique glass, enamel and diamond bracelet, brooch and earring suite was on the market for the first time since it was bought by the Edwardian heiress Mrs Florence Evelyn St George (1870- 1936).
The daughter of one of the richest men in America, banker George Fisher Baker, she became one of the most celebrated and talked about socialites of her time, not least for a passionate and very public affair with the artist William Orpen.
Florence Evelyn St George bought her 'collier de chien’ during one of her annual shopping trips to Paris c.1910. Fashionable jeweller, Rene Lalique, created a few other chokers in this trelliswork pattern between 1900-10 employing varying materials and motifs. This particular suite, made in the moulded glass that would become Lalique’s trademark, was later converted to a bracelet, earrings and and a brooch. The winning bid was £26,250 incl premium (estimate £10,000-15,000).
Two French pieces from the Art Deco period attracted plenty of competition. A diamond and gem-set brooch formed as a pair of openwork wings with millegrain-set diamonds, cabochon chrysoprase and borders of onyx sold for £9,062. It was made c.1925 at the height of the Egyptian revival, just a few years after the discovery of the magnificent jewellery of Tutankhamun.
A frosted rock crystal, onyx and diamond brooch, again from c.1925, represented another strand of the Deco aesthetic. Combining an octagonal frosted rock crystal frame, mounted with palmette motifs set with diamonds and onyx, it was possibly made by Chaumet. It took £6,000.
Nine lots of jewellery by post-war designer John Donald (b.1928-) all found buyers. Donald was part of the select group of British goldsmiths who revolutionised jewellery design in the early 1960s and is now very much back in fashion. He entered five pieces in the seminal International Exhibition oF Modern Jewellery 1890-1961, held at Goldsmiths' Hall in 1961 and by 1964 he could number Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother among his patrons.
Typical of his work, using textured gold and uncut semi-precious stones, was a rutilated quartz brooch with a surround of gold tubes. Carrying marks for 1970 it sold for £3,000 - the same sum realised by a lady’s 18ct gold and enamel wristwatch of 1965 with an openwork bracelet composed of abstract textured cubes.