Hello and welcome to our August edition of The Hancocks Journal.
This month we have a wonderful selection of our antique, vintage and contemporary jewels for you starting with this very special Art Deco ‘Un Cercle’ clip brooch by Van Cleef and Arpels.
Set throughout with both brilliant and baguette cut diamonds, it has an angular geometric cut out motif that adds to the contrast between curved and straight edges. Made in platinum with a hinged opening, the top right quarter folds forwards to allow the brooch to be clipped in place. Made circa 1931, this is an iconic VCA design that featured in adverts at the time and has since starred in exhibitions and books on the jewellery of this prestigious Maison.
We also have two very different jewels below that both use black onyx to striking effect. As does our Jewel of the Month which uses it as an accent gem alongside diamond and coral, a quintessential stone combination of Cartier Art Deco jewels. This month sees our Maker Spotlight fall on the glamorous and effervescent Fulco di Verdura who began his design career with Coco Chanel in the 1920s. If you haven’t read his autobiography ‘The Happy Summer Days’ then I highly recommend it, we might not be having the balmiest of summers here in London but this will transport you to a seemingly endless summer and help you forget the rain!
We hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and if you know someone who you think would find it interesting, do please forward it on. As ever, our full jewellery collection is available to view in our Burlington Arcade boutique and on our website whilst our Instagram page is regularly updated, all links are at the end of this newsletter.
Lapis and Onyx Bracelet
This bold and beautiful vintage bracelet was designed by Aldo Cipullo for Cartier circa 1970. Formed of six rings of carved and polished lapis lazuli, these are joined together via large oval 18ct yellow gold links each set to the top with a pyramid of black onyx. The lapis is a wonderfully rich blue colour flecked through with golden pyrite which the yellow gold setting helps to highlight. This is all contrasted with the black of the onyx creating an eye-catching colour combination to compliment the bold design. Lapis Lazuli is one of the oldest known gems having been traded for its decorative beauty for thousands of years. One of the earliest surviving examples of its use can be seen in the funeral mask of Tutankhamun.
Diamond and Onyx Ring
Our new diamond and onyx ring is set with a truly beautiful emerald-cut Type IIA diamond weighing 1.04ct and of D colour and IF clarity. We’ve positioned it horizontally across the finger within a surround of carved and polished black onyx for a bold monochrome finish. As its name suggests, the emerald cut was originally developed for emeralds which are brittle stones that can chip easily. This cut, with its characteristic chamfered corners, was created to help protect these most vulnerable parts of the stone. It would take hundreds of years before it was used on diamonds but during the first half of the 20th century, emerald cut diamonds began to appear and grow in popularity primarily due to their elegance and bold new geometric shape.
Jewel of the Month
A Superb Art Deco Diamond, Coral and Onyx Ring by Cartier
Our August Jewel of the Month is this fabulous Art Deco ring. It was made by Cartier around 1930 and the combination of onyx, coral and diamond was particularly popular at this time. It can be seen in many other Cartier jewels, including some of those exhibited at the prestigious 1925 L’ Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes.
This wonderful ring with its glamourous and vibrant Jazz Age feel is quintessential of Cartier jewels of this period. The Jazz Age saw plenty of interesting designs and bold colour combinations for jewellery as designers explored different ideas and cultural references, embodying them in jewels to reflect the fun and frivolous spirit of the era. However, the chunky central diamond predates this period entirely. It is an old mine brilliant cut diamond, a style of cut that developed during the 18th century and is characterised by either a square or rectangular outline with obviously rounded corners and sides.
Guy Burton, Managing Director, Hancocks London, comments: “This ring utilised an old diamond and set it in a strikingly contemporary new design. Something Hancocks knows all about! We are delighted to be able to offer this for sale.”
“Fulco’s references to nature, culture and religion keep his work classic. But without question he was a revolutionary, the one who changed everything. Fulco made it all modern.” This is what makes Fulco di Verdura’s jewellery so exceptional according to former Vogue editor Babs Simpson.
Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1898 into an aristocratic and somewhat eccentric family whose artistic sensibilities would later reveal themselves in his creative designs. His autobiography ‘The Happy Summer Days’ describes in wonderfully vivid detail the exuberance of his early years growing up in the extravagant surroundings of the family’s 18th century estate, Villa Niscemi. A love of art and nature was perhaps inevitable given his upbringing and they would become key inspirations in his work.
Fulco was introduced to Coco Chanel by his friends Cole and Linda Porter and their rapport was instant. By 1927 Fulco was in Paris working with Chanel, firstly as a textile designer and then as a jewellery designer. He also helped her rework much of her own personal jewellery, some of which was then copied to sell in the Rue Cambon atelier.
In 1934 he left Paris for New York where he worked for the jeweller Paul Flato before setting up his own boutique, with the backing of Cole Porter and Vincent Astor, at 712 Fifth Avenue in 1939. This new independence coupled with his lack of regard for the formal rules of design left him free to create pieces as original and exuberant as he was himself and success came quickly.
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