Chain lovers, in its October 21 sale, Aguttes offers a selection of magnificent antique and vintage chains, long necklaces with elaborate links and watches with mesh bracelets. Simply sublime.
By Sandrine Merle.
Looking at the sale through the prism of the chain, it soon becomes apparent that “very few jewels can exist without this succession of links”, as Philippine Dupré la Tour, associate director and expert at Aguttes, explains. And it is precisely on such links that the beauty, the balance and the power of this stroke of light are partly based – the shape, thickness, specific metal and texture, the proportions and especially the way each link is joined to others. Every detail is of vital importance and everything can be modified, which makes the repertoire of chains infinite.
The oldest chains
Two models date from the 19th century. Thin and round like a rope, short and very supple, the chain of the “drapery” necklace (lot no. 2) falls perfectly on the neck – a refined series of diamond and pearl pendants to grace any decolleté. The other (lot 10), is very long (about 150 cm), and is punctuated with filigree links reminiscent of embroidery. The 19th century, and especially the Second Empire, was one of the most creative periods in terms of chains: thousands were invented and give names such as Eugénie, Mathilde, Clotilde, etc. The most beautiful ones came out of the Parisian workshop of Auguste Lion, but there is no evidence that this is the case for these two models.
Georges Lenfant’s chains
The Chaumet bracelet (lot no. 95) and Fred’s bracelet and necklace (lot 101) are in “Paillette” gold, i.e. the links are characterized by a shiny granulated gold. These three pieces of jewelry are among the most sought-after models because they bear the prestigious hallmark of Georges Lenfant’s Parisian workshop. This chain specialist with a passion for technical innovation is also the originator of “Paillette” gold, which he developed in the 1960s and 1970s for all the major jewelers. Collectors all over the world have been snatching them up.
The links can take the form of a spiro tube, a stylized palm tree or an oat grain (lot 122), while the chain’s flexibility can also evoke the body of an animal. The one known as the snake, as on the ladies’ watch of the 1950s (lot 92), is one of the best known, and also one of the most beautiful. Its movement recalls the reptile’s undulating body. For the “Panthère” watch – launched in the 1980s (lot 153) and today one of the world’s most popular – Cartier created an arrangement of links cut like briquettes that moves just as gracefully as the cat itself.
Thousands of little links that slide against each other, into each other, between each other… The result is a ribbon or a precious fabric. The lovely evening bag (lot 104) seems to be cut from gold silk, the watch strap (lot 91) from lamé tweed. The strap of the Piaget watch from the 1970s looks as if it has been knitted with smooth, twisted gold threads. As for the Neiman & Marcus cuff watch (lot 93), one of the finest pieces in the sale, its links have been brushed on top. Like a sumptuous gold threaded shantung.
Discover the Aguttes sale Octobre 21
Accclaim for unsigned jewelry in the Aguttes sale