My agenda

03 March 2021

Acclaim for unsigned jewelry in the Aguttes sale

With jewelry, a signature isn’t everything! Anonymous pieces, often one-of-a-kind, can provide some splendid surprises, like the ones featuring in the next Aguttes sale.

By Sandrine Merle.



“On jewelry items, engraving by Cartier, Van Cleef or René Lalique is the stamp of a style and the guarantee of remarkable execution. But it doesn’t imply that they alone have these qualities,” says Philippine Dupré La Tour, associate director and expert with Aguttes. A word to the bold: trust your feelings and look for the piece that no one else will have – one with atypical beauty, or typifying an era. And don’t eschew imperfections that can make for incredible charm. I have selected ten or so I particularly like in the next Aguttes sale.


Bow brooch

The craftsmanship is superb, and the work on volume with the blackened silver ties (oxidized with time) gives the piece graceful movement. The delicate loops that unfold in the space seem about to come undone. With a 19th century piece like this one, it is pointless to search for a signature: jewelers did not start marking their names until the early 20th century.


Sword pin, 19th century

Set off by diamonds is neither a sapphire nor a ruby, but probably glass mounted on foil. It doesn’t matter to collectors (many are wild about this type of piece) because this sword motif is not often found. “It’s like a sentimental piece full of family history harking back to the Middle Ages,” says Philippine Dupré La Tour.


Gold and pearl bracelet

A charming anachronism: the 19th century gold frame is decorated with cultured pearls, which did not exist at that period. They may have replaced the antique coins much in vogue at the time. When and why? Mystery and uncertainty add to the beauty of this genuine conversation piece.


Woman’s head pin

The motif, a woman’s head wearing a tiara with one wayward curling lock, is typically Art Nouveau. The finely executed details merit close inspection. The quality is certified by the Plisson & Hartz workshop’s master stamp.


Art Deco diamond ring

The pale-colored central diamond is transcended by the magnificent layout of the surrounding stones, where the gaze is lost in the scintillating light of antique, baguette and brilliant cut diamonds. On each side, a half cylinder softens the silhouette. The master hallmark is difficult to make out: is it a hammer, or the T from the Jean Bondt workshop, which worked for Lacloche and Boucheron? This calls for an investigation of the jeweler’s archives!


Pair of Art Deco diamond clips

These clips totally embody Art Deco,  and are extremely sought-after at auction. Their value lies in the meticulous work of material and setting, and the arrangement of the multi-cut diamonds. Their uniform color shows that the stones were selected with the sole aim of making this piece. The back is as beautiful as the front: the ultimate sign of high jewelry.


Two belt bracelets 

The iconic 1950s belt bracelet is hugely popular today. Its gracefulness lies in the balance between full and empty, the goldwork imitating netting and the chevron, held in place by a diamond bar or a bouquet buckle.


Sapphire and diamond bracelet

The way the calibrated sapphires are held, with no visible metal, immediately evokes the “Mysterious” setting technique patented by Van Cleef & Arpels. And its fluidity, too… “This bracelet, probably made in the 1980s, is an affordable piece of haute joaillerie,” says Philippine Dupré La Tour. Its price is the final asset of this unsigned piece.


Aguttes sale on 11 March 2021


Related articles:

The hallmark in question

Mucha’s Art Nouveau jewelry

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