It is a bracelet of rock crystal carved into individual steps. It is finished with a diamond encrusted button. It was made in 1935 by Cartier Paris. And, in the fearlessness of its design, its mastery of materials, and sheer imagination, maybe one of the most perfect jewels I have ever seen. I have never wanted anything more.

On December 11, it will go up for sale at Christie’s New York, and the estimate is $200,000-$300,000. I will be there to watch it go to a (very) good home. It is but one of an extraordinary collection of nearly 70 Art Deco pieces that will be a part of Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Sale (public previews open on December 6 at Rockefeller Center headquarters).

There is a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond sautoir (estimate $500,000-$700,000); an Art Deco Cartier multi-gem mystery clock ($300,000-$500,000); and a cuff of spiked rock crystal and hematite by Suzanne Belperron for Boivin, circa 1930, that will leave you breathless (you can hear my “oh my god” at the end of an Instagram video I made while trying it on during an early preview).

Christie’s sale of these Art Deco pieces will be one of the most watched of the jewelry auction season. What is it about this period between the wars that inspired so much bold creativity, and created pieces that continue to break records today?

They first called it Style Moderne; the term Art Deco was born after the World’s Fair in Paris, known as Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. The name stuck, as did the taste for the streamlined architectural jewelry presented there. “Art Deco jewels remain one of the strongest and most collectible sectors of the jewelry market,” said Frank Everett of Sotheby’s, after a 2019 record breaking sale of a Cartier Art Deco sapphire and diamond bracelet. “Season after season we see exceptional pieces from the 1920s and 1930s command top prices.”

Read more about the history of Art Deco and why the style sells so well at auction on the Town and Country website HERE

About the author