In just eight years, the Masterpiece art fair has established itself as a firm fixture in London’s summer scene, slotting itself between the Royal Ascot races and Wimbledon championships. The event – which runs from Thursday June 28 to Wednesday July 4 this year – is a hunting ground for pieces ranging from rare books to antique furniture and continues to go from strength to strength, having been acquired by Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group last year.
New names star in the line-up for 2018 – most notably five fine jewellers, including Bond Street’s Moussaieff, which has exchanged its Paris couture showing for Masterpiece. Its exquisite creations (prices on request) include long platinum earrings interspersed with 33.04ct of diamonds and unusual white and grey pearls, plus a striking diamond necklace enlivened with 77.06ct of cushion- and oval-shaped Burmese rubies. But it’s in exceptionally set, rare-coloured diamonds that Moussaieff shines, as exemplified by its flower rings in 5.7ct pink or 1.17ct green diamonds.
Fabio Salini, an Italian designer who cut his teeth at Bulgari and Cartier before going solo, also makes his debut at the show (prices for his collection here range from $15,000 to $500,000). Salini is a fan of unexpected materials, from shagreen – which forms the backdrop of a super-cool cuff set featuring diamonds and sapphires in a star motif – to carbon fibre, which makes its way into a pair of funky gold, diamond, sapphire and titanium earrings. A rock-crystal bracelet punctuated with pearls, diamonds and cabochon sapphires, meanwhile, makes for a strikingly modern design.
Taiwanese jeweller Cindy Chao, whose first-ever public exhibition in 2016 made quite the splash in Paris at the Biennale des Antiquaires, is another name of note. As for many jewellers, nature is a strong theme in her work, and Chao textures her flora and fauna with an abundant smattering of stones, permeated by an Asian sensibility. For Masterpiece, Chao is showing a titanium peony brooch, set with rubies and enamel, while a pair of Winter Leaves brooches evokes a frozen wonderland courtesy of diamonds of different sizes, set in titanium.
Not all the newcomers are presenting work by contemporary names. Antique jewellery dealer Simon Teakle will present around 150 17th- to 21st-century pieces from his Greenwich boutique in Connecticut. Top collectable names are his forte and include Cartier (an art deco diamond bracelet priced at £196,000, for example) and JAR, whose magnificent fibula brooch (£280,000) is crafted from five articulated crosses suspended from a bejewelled pin. The fabulous array of tourmalines, garnets, emeralds and diamonds reflects the trend for coloured stones, says Teakle, who will also showcase a pair of vibrant c1880 Renaissance-revival paste and diamond earrings.
Art nouveau and art deco jewels are having something of a moment, and representing this corner at Masterpiece is Epoque Fine Jewels (prices on request). The Belgium-based dealer and art fair veteran (TEFAF and Paris’ Biennale among them) has two classic art nouveau beauties to reveal – Philippe Wolfers’ surreal 1902 Nike pendant, a kaleidoscopic explosion of gold, enamel, rubies and sapphires, and a heavenly Lalique enamel, diamond and glass necklace topped with a fabulous citrine. There are also two pieces by Cartier – a Garland-style diamond collier de chien (c1906) and splendid sapphire, emerald and diamond bird brooch.
Maison Chopard, meanwhile, is sponsoring the fair’s Talks & Educational Programme. The Geneva jeweller is a longstanding partner of the Cannes Film Festival – it crafts the Palme d’Or trophy in fair-mined gold – and there will be a chance to peruse its latest Red Carpet collection (although the pieces will not be for sale at the event). Its tanzanite-bead necklace set with a fabulous floral web of pear-shaped chrysoberyls, multicolour sapphires and diamonds – a motif that continues in matching earrings – is a head-turner.