Sunday, February 2, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: 2008 Geneva Auction of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte's Jewellery

A year after the auction in Amsterdam, another few pieces of jewellery formerly owned by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte popped up at another auction, this time in Switzerland. In November 2008, Sotheby's held one of their famous "Magnificent Jewels" auctions in Geneva. As it was the case with the pieces sold in the Amsterdam auction, it is once again not clear who the seller of these jewels were though also once again they are likely to be found among the late Grand Duchess' children. The pieces were either described as "property of a gentleman" or as "property of a European collector".
Among the eight lots of former jewellery of the late Grand Duchess put up for auction were a diamond and sapphire bracelet and a pair of sapphire and diamond earclips. Made by Verger & Cie, the pieces had been a gift of Grand Duke Jean to his wife on the occasion of their 20th wedding anniversary in 1973. You can see Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wearing the bracelet which was designed as a series of flower head clusters set with a cushion-shaped diamond at the centre and surrounded by circular-cut sapphires, highlighted with brilliant-cut diamonds here. All of the stones are mounted in platinum. The two central diamonds used for the earclips had once been owned by the Count of Chambord. Sotheby's estimated the pieces to be worth 23,000 to 33,000 Swiss francs but the lot did not sell.
Another item put up for auction was a diamond bracelet made circa 1930. The bracelet is composed of three plaques set with circular- and single-cut diamonds set in open work geometric design interspersed with single-cut and baguette stone spacers all set in platinum. Originally estimated between 17,000 and 22,000 Swiss francs, the bracelet surpassed expectations and sold for 27,500 Swiss francs.
In fact, a whole array of diamond bracelet formerly belonging to Grand Duches Joséphine-Charlotte was put up for auction. This bracelet is composed of six open work geometric links set with baguette-, circular-, brilliant-, and single-cut diamonds, spaced by a stylised mesh of collet-set similar stones. All of the stones are mounted in platinum. Believed to have been made in 1930, the bracelet was estimated between 18,000 and 28,000 Swiss francs but did not sell.
Another one of the diamond bracelets on the other hand did sell. Originally estimated to be worth between 18,000 and 28,000 Swiss francs, the bracelet fetched 26,250 Swiss francs. The bracelet made out of circular-, single-cut and baguette diamonds set in an open work geometric design made out of platinum was worn by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte in this picture.
Number four of the diamond bracelet was estimated to be the most expensive of the lot though it did not sell in this auction. Made in the 1930's, Sotheby's estimated the bracelet to be worth between 28,000 and 38,000 Swiss francs. While the centre of open work design is set with circular-, single-cut and baguette diamonds, the articulated straps are set with circular-cut stones mounted in platinum.
The last three lots containing jewellery formerly owned by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte actually include jewellery we have talked about individually here on the blog before, her ruby set. Given to her by her father King Léopold III of the Belgians, this brooch was made by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1952. Designed as a flower, the petals are set with oval rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds. The stem is set with baguette stones and the leaves with brilliant-cut diamond, all of them mounted in platinum. Estimated between 18,000 and 28,000 Swiss francs, the brooch sold for 22,500 Swiss francs.
The earrings of the ruby set, also made out of rubies and diamonds set in a platinum flower design, was sold as well. Also a gift from King Léopold III to his only daughter by his first wife Queen Astrid, the earrings were made by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1952 as well. After having been estimated between 23,000 and 33,000 Swiss francs, the earrings fetched 33,750 Swiss francs. While all the above pieces were described to be the "property of a European collector", the earrings as well as the bracelet below were said to be the "property of a gentleman". Whether the "gentleman" and the "European collector" were two different persons or in fact the same one remains unclear.
Consisting of an articulated band composed of three lines of oval rubies spaced by collet-set brilliant-cut diamonds, highlighted with brilliant-cut and baguette diamond links, all mounted in platinum, the ruby bracelet was the eighth lot of jewellery once belonging to Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte put up at the "Magnificent Jewels" auction in November 2008 in Geneva. Also made by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1952 and yet another gift to the Grand Duchess from her father, the bracelet was estimated between 56,000 and 76,000 Swiss francs but did not find a buyer.

As you might recall from our recent post about the ruby set, this did not mean that the bracelet was saved from being sold off, a fate the bracelet shares with all the other items that did not sell in this auction. And so we will have a look at a third Sotheby's auction that included Grand Ducal jewellery in one of our future edititions of Luxarazzi 101.

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