One of the most respected names of mid-20th-century jewellery design was Mitchel Maer, who worked for Christian Dior from 1952 to 1956. His exuberant pieces adorned many of Dior’s catwalk creations but in 1956 he went bankrupt and took his company into voluntary liquidation; a year later Dior died, Yves St Laurent brought a new style to the house and Maer’s work slid into obscurity. A renewed focus by Dior on the house’s heritage, however, means an auction of Maer’s pieces held by Catherine Southon in Surrey on February 22 is likely to draw costume jewellery collectors like moths to a flame.
There are 100 items in the flamboyantly 1950s collection, some grouped together to make suites in the same style, others in duplicates with different coloured stones. There is a lively mix of coloured and clear crystal, pearls and semi-precious stones such as citrines and peridots, and many of the pieces have an exotic air, as well as ornate and feminine qualities, in line with Christian Dior’s design philosophy.
Star lots include two necklaces and matching bracelets fringed with turquoise glass drops, pink stones and pearls (estimate £300-£400); six delicate bracelets with a mix of clear and pink crystal floral motifs set in white metal coil chain (estimate £100-£200); and two swagged gold dolphin necklaces and a bracelet with faux red stones and pearls among other things (estimate £300-£400).
Many of the items have had their engraved Dior tags sheared off, because they were initially bought after Maer’s bankruptcy, but all have been authenticated by jewellery experts. Estimates run from £50 to £1,000, but interest and prices are likely to be much higher.