Sotheby’s Milan sold this rather stunning brooch last week for € 189,000 ($ 225,500) which once again confirms just how very popular these vintage ‘bijoux Hindou’ jewels by Cartier are. This example was very reminiscent of the famous Daisy Fellowes ‘Hindou’ necklace which now is the centrepiece of the Cartier Museum Collection.
Daisy Fellowes was the hugely rich heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine empire. Her prodigious spending reputedly kept Cartier and Schiaparelli in business throughout the 1930s. She bought her necklace,
the greatest of all Cartier's Indian inspired jewels, in 1936.
Today, it is much better known in its present form which was the result of a transformation in the 1960s and it is the clasp, as it now is, which is so similar to the design of this Milan brooch. Two huge carved sapphires joined by a multitude of multi-coloured gems make this a good example of the genre.
However, by comparison to the Fellowes necklace, the sapphires in this brooch appear to be of poor quality and colour. Is it possible a traveller came back from Indian in the 1930s with these two sapphires and asked Cartier to incorporate them into a piece of jewellery? They simply do not look good enough to be of Cartier quality.
Whilst the above is an issue, there were also questions raised over the condition of this piece. The reverse reveals a huge amount of repair work, poor repair work in actual fact, and it leads one to wonder what has happened to this brooch over its lifetime. Was it repaired using all the original stones or were some replaced? Was it, in fact, repaired to the original design?
The price suddenly looks a little high. Certainly, the buyer should try and ask Cartier to review the original design and comment. (However, they most probably will refuse as is their wont).
Regardless, the brooch should be properly repaired and returned to its former glory.
Whilst it has it’s faults, this is still a large and impressive example of Cartier’s ‘Hindou’ inspired jewellery and, as such, it warrants our attention.