Jewelry and Wearable Art Sold at Auction
April 2018
By Ettagale Blauer

A Bouquet of Violets

Multi-stone and diamond bouquet brooch by Carvin French, $10,626
Heritage Auctions, Dallas
March 26, 2018
April 2018

A Bouquet of Violets

Multi-stone and diamond bouquet brooch by Carvin French, $10,626
Heritage Auctions, Dallas
March 26, 2018

Most flowers are ephemeral, but the violet blossoms in this brooch by Carvin French still look fresh and appealing, many years after they were beautifully set in place. Modeled after a live bunch of violets, one of the many delights of this brooch is the use of demantoid (green) garnets and yellow sapphires, sprinkled within the amethysts, emulating the real flowers. Green garnets, weighing a total of 3.51 carats, and the 2.01 carats of yellow sapphires, bring brightness to the quiet purple of the carved amethysts. The artfully shaped amethysts capture the look of violets to a remarkable degree.

Full-cut white diamonds, weighing 55 points, or just over one-half carat, form an elegant ribbon on the stems, appearing to hold the bouquet together. The stems and the brooch are made of 18k gold, with the diamonds set in platinum. Each flower is placed among its floral mates, curving up and out on its stem. All of this detail is contained in a piece that measures just 3 3/16 inches by two inches, making it very wearable on contemporary fashions. Made over a period of 20 years, being fitted in among the many orders in the workshop, the amethyst violets offer a glimpse into the perfection attained in all of their work.

Carvin French is a New York firm, founded in 1953 by Andre Chervin and Serge Carponcy. The two men received their classical jewelry training in France and apprenticed there. They met in New York after emigrating to the United States and shortly thereafter, formed Carvin French.

Exquisite attention to detail, the finest materials and superb craftsmanship went into every jewel they designed and created. The firm made work for the finest retailers including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston, among others, earning it the nickname, the “jeweler’s jeweler.” Those pieces were signed with the retailers’ names. Following Serge Carponcy’s retirement in 1983, Andre Chervin carried on with the business, moving it to an upstairs salon at 515 Madison Avenue, where it remains today. Mr. Chervin’s nephew, Sylvain Chervin, who trained as a lapidary in France joined the firm in 1984 and under the continued guidance of Andre Chervin, continues the firm’s operations. Carole Chervin also works with her father in the family business.

According to Andre Chervin who is still very active in the firm, “My heart is in every piece that I have made from the smallest to the largest. I remember working side by side with the lapidary discussing every little petal and leaf.”

Heritage Auctions
Doyle.com

Starry, Starry Night

Sapphire and diamond pendant earrings, $5000

Doyle Auction House

February 23, 2018

Working in the round is a challenge both for the jeweler and the gemsetter, as is exemplified by this pair of sapphire and diamond pendant earrings. The drops are fashioned from myriad small round diamonds, weighing a total of 1.75 carats, and numerous round sapphires, in varied tones of blue, weighing a total of 5.25 carats. The earrings are so beautifully proportioned, the drops have a liquid feel to them. White diamonds are sprinkled amongst the sapphires, adding brightness and glitter to the more muted blues. The ombre or shaded tones of the sapphires enable the jeweler to create a subtle visual effect, somewhat like the waves of the ocean.  

The jeweler, working with the gem supplier, lays out the various tones of sapphires, mixing them to achieve the ultimate look. Then each stone is pavé set. In this technique, the gemsetter raises up tiny white gold beads from the mounting, just enough to hold each stone in place.  Upon close inspection, one can see at least six beads touching the side of each stone. The stones are aligned in lengthwise rows, as well as in diagonal rows, adding ever more visual appeal and demonstrating the superb technical skills of the maker.

Doyle Auction House
Fortuna Inc.

Tempting Eve

Enamel and gold snake bracelet, $5,500

Fortuna Auctioneers

February 22, 2018

This flexible enamel and gold snake bracelet, with diamond and emerald accents, is a superb example of jewelry making. The bracelet is worn by gently expanding the coils to fit around the wrist. The blue and green enamel ‘scales’ overlap along the length of the bracelet, flexing but not breaking. Enamel is a difficult and delicate process that combines glassmaking skills as well as metalsmithing, all of it beginning with the artistry of the design. This bracelet posed many challenges to the anonymous maker. 

Each scale was fitted into overlapping rows, with alternating sections of blue enamel nestling within the majority green body of the piece.  Each section is striated, to simulate the skin of a snake.  The rows are then fitted together in circular sections and hinged to allow them to flex, while staying firmly attached. The bracelet expands from an inner circumference of five inches to approximately 6 ½ inches. The head of the snake, all blue enamel, is accented by 23 round diamonds, weighing about 0.55 carat total, along with two round emeralds for the eyes.  A tiny gold tongue pokes out from the front of the head. This is a tour-de-force of jewelry making.

Fortuna Inc.
Skinner Inc.

A Rose is a Rose

Gold, enamel and diamond brooch by René Kern, $3,075

Skinner Inc., Boston

March 20, 2018

The soft petals of a pink rose were captured in naturalistic detail in a gold, enamel and diamond brooch made by German jeweler René Kern. The piece, measuring 4 ½ inches in length, depicts a fully opened blossom, with a smaller bud that is about to open. The enamel petals are edged in full cut and single-cut diamonds as is the innermost part of the main flower. The diamonds suggest dew drops on the petals and nestle within gold settings. One enamel leaf, artfully merging yellow and green tones along the 18k gold stem, gives even more life to the piece. Working enamel on rounded surfaces is the ultimate achievement of this demanding technique. Here, colors are muted and shaded for the ultimate realism. Each petal was modeled individually, and then affixed to the blossoms. The fully opened flower as well as the bud rest delicately, but firmly, on the 18k gold stems. The piece was hallmarked and signed, and offered in a fitted box.

Rene Kern opened his business in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1950, ultimately growing into an international firm with royal clients. Over time, the company was sold and merged becoming part of the Garrard Group and finally Bucherer.

Skinner Inc.
About the Author

Ettagale Blauer

Ettagale Blauer is an author and authority on all aspects of jewelry design, wristwatches, as well as diamonds and gold, and is the author of Contemporary American Jewelry Design, the seminal book on the subject. She has also written extensively about Africa, including a series of books for Grolier Publishing. Most recently, she published Woodstock 1969, The Lasting Impact of the Counter Culture, with photography by Jason Lauré, available now through Skyhorse Publishing.