Ask gem enthusiasts to name the defining French designers of art nouveau and René Lalique and Georges Fouquet will undoubtedly top the list. Both feature in an upcoming jewellery auction held by Christie’s in Geneva – part of the Beyond Boundaries sale of some 180 artworks, design and jewellery hailing from a single private European collection, and expected to fetch around $30m in total.
The jewellery sale features 45 pieces by master glassmaker René Lalique; his glass roots shine through in jewels such as a pendant depicting a pair of enamel and diamond peacocks punctuated with green peridot ($35,000-$55,000). The jeweller also famously designed for the stage and an 1898-99 suspended-pearl brooch ($80,000-$100,000) of a woman’s head carved in chrysoprase and flanked by two enamelled poppies, has a theatrical if not surreal quality – as does a pendant-brooch ($60,000-$80,000) of five enamel and diamond wasps.
Swirling, feminine and boundary-pushing art gems by Georges Fouquet, whose star began to soar after he opened a boutique at 6 Rue Royale in Paris in 1900, appear in the sale as a magnificent green enamel, shield-shaped pendant necklace ($18,000-$22,000) spun with gold scrolls and dappled with a purple enamel thistle and pearls.
Fouquet, who died in 1957, was also instrumental in the emergence of art deco jewellery, and the sale includes some fine examples of the style – from both him and other designers. Monochrome chic stands out in both Fouquet’s geometric diamond and onyx c1927 ring ($18,000-$25,000) and Raymond Templier’s diamond and lacquer brooch ($45,000-$65,000). Templier’s work was clearly much loved by the couple behind this collection, and another standout is a c1925 octagonal, step-cut sapphire ring ($25,000-$35,000).
Bejewelled objets include art deco clocks set in precious stones, a breathtaking 1927 Van Cleef & Arpels mother-of-pearl, coral-inlay and black enamel vanity case ($45,000-$65,000) with jade and diamond accents, and a darling c1900 ox-horn, pearl and gold-hair comb ($4,500-$6,500) by Lucien Gaillard.