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  • Harry Fane

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As always, the weeks leading up to Christmas are jammed with auctions…whilst I cannot review every sale or lot, I thought I would mention a few pieces that have done particularly well. There was not a single mind-blowing piece of splendour, but the sales were peppered with good pieces and the prices were strong.

Before we look, I would like to comment on how resilient the vintage Cartier market is. Never in forty years have prices gone down and nor has anyone ever left an auction saying ‘Oh, I bought that great piece of Cartier cheap’. Maybe they got it for less than they were expecting but Cartier for many, many years has been and remains the gold standard for vintage jewellery. We all know the fascinating story of the firm (thank you, Francesca Brickell), and the key to their ever-green success was their strict adherence to their ethos of making first-rate jewellery.

I am talking about ‘making’…. designing is another whole story, but I am talking about the quality of execution: The choice of stones, the fine cutting, the intricacies of the setting and the exquisite mechanical cleverness of clasps and fittings generally. This is what set Cartier apart from, and far above all their competitors and this is what fuels the desirability of vintage Cartier jewellery. This is also what underpins the relentlessly higher and higher prices that are being paid for these same vintage Cartier pieces.

This is where the whole adventure gels…

”Oh, what a beautiful bracelet”….or “what a stunning necklace you are wearing”.. Or “I love your earrings”. These are familiar cries which often go ignored….But when the answer is ‘yes, this bracelet was made by Cartier, Paris in 1927; or ‘my necklace was made by Cartier, London in 1935’ or, “I love my earrings too. They are by Cartier Paris in 1950 and Princess Grace of Monaco had a similar pair’, that is when interest is piqued and eyes sparkle with responses of ‘Really? How amazing.. how very, very lucky you are”.

Strangely, three very similar rings were sold this week. One, the turquoise & diamond model, which had questionable authenticity but sold, regardless, for US $ 44,000. The beautiful emerald & diamond model fetched US $ 32,500 while the sophisticated, ruby and sapphire version made US $ 52,500. The Duchess of Windsor also owned a similar ruby & sapphire ring.

The large and very flexible diamond feather brooch was a good example of what I was discussing above. Amazing 'make'. This fetched US $ 240,000.

The charming giraffe brooch fetched $ 164,000.

The extremely extravagant and elegant lady's handbag made US $ 131,000. The panther, of course, made a strong US $ 325,000. This brooch is a good example of an iconic Cartier creation.

These panthers, created under the inspiration of Madame Toussaint (whose nickname was The Panther), were made famous by The Duchess of Windsor.

And last and not least, this elegant single strand 'grain de cafe' necklace made a strong $ 80,000.

This price includes a pair of single 'grain de cafe' earrings to match. This necklace is the same model as worn by Princess Grace of Monaco when she sat for her portrait which was to be seen on Monaco postage stamps

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