AUCTION – The Art of Jewelry heads to Bonhams Los Angeles


Bonhams presents its second Artist Jewelry sale on November 10 in Los Angeles. Following the success of last year, the forthcoming Artist Jewelry sale features over 300 lots and will present one-of-a-kind creations by leading artists and designers from across the globe, including sculptural, contemporary, and architectural designers all dating to the turn of the century, highlighting functional, abstract, and intelligent designs.


Emily Waterfall, Director of Jewelry Department, Los Angeles, said: “Artist Jewelry highlights the most striking pieces from leading designers, showcasing names from the post-world era where jewelry design became a phenomenon creating works of art that could be worn, creating a unique and lasting connection between jewelry, modern art and sculpture.” 

Leading the sale is a series of work of French artists including multiple lots from Jean Després (1889-1980), the dynamic French silversmith and jeweler most recognised for his intricate Art Moderne Jewelry made from semi-precious stones, machine parts and enamel. His aesthetics were inspired by avant-garde artists of the time including Cubist Braque, Picasso, and Modigliani who Després mingled with in Paris. One of the lots being offered is an exceptional silver, 14K gold and jade ring of cylindrical, geometric design, circa 1930s. Offered with an estimate of US$6,000 – 9,000.   

A striking enamel and 18k gold ‘Abstraction’ pendant, circa 1975, by French female artist, Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) will also be featured in the sale. Known for her use of vibrant colours and abstract design, the pendant showcases a geometric motif accented by green, blue, red, and white enamel. The pendant is offered with an estimate of US$2,500 – 3,500. 

The sale also features designers currently working today, including interior designer Hervé Van Der Straeten (b.1965). As a graduate of the École des Beaux Arts, Van Der Straeten is known for his playful conceptional designs with a focus on floral and figural imagery. The brass necklace pendant on offer for US$1,000 – 1,500, shows a lovers embrace suspended from foliate motifs reminiscent of Matisse leaves, discreetly secured by a toggle clasp.

The sale also includes a selection of Scandinavian designers, recognized for their sculptural and brutalist compositions. Danish designers Georg Jensen and Hans Hansen (1884-1940) as well as Swedish designer Rey Urban (1929 – 2015) are among the few to be featured. 

Key highlights include Finnish designers Björn Weckström (b. 1935) an architectural 14K gold textured pendant necklace with two square-cut Lucite delicately suspended from a bar link chain, circa 1970. The pendant is accompanied by matching rectangular gold earrings. Offered with an estimate of US$1,000 – 2,000.  Also architectural in design is a Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985) ‘Hopeakuu’ pendant featuring graduating layers of circles which oscillate with the movement of the body. The silver pendant is circa 1973 and offered with an estimate of US$ 1,800 – 2,200.

American designers feature prominently in the sale, names include New York designer, Ed Wiener (1918-1991) who exemplified the studio jewelry artist of the late 1940s and 1950s. Heading to auction is a spectacular 14K white gold hinged bangle with an angular wave motive. The sculptural piece is offered with an estimate of US$ 1,000- 1,500. Other highlights include Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) an experimental artist known for her large-scale abstract metal and glass sculptures including the gates at the Peggy Guggenheim Venice Palazzo. Falkenstein’s jewelry is increasingly as important as her sculptures to collect and on offer is an exceptional copper frame necklace with blue and orange fused glass. The piece of art is offered with an estimate of US$ 1,200 – 1,500.

Other highlights include:

  • A silver, copper and brass Atomic Bomb cuff and necklace suite, circa 1945 by American designer Hubert Harman. Featuring copper domes and studs with a silver torc with mixed metal sputniks and spiraling silver wire. Trained in Paris and having worked for leading designers of the time including Schiaparelli and Jean Patou, his makers mark featured on the piece is a pair of feet with wings. Offered with an estimate of US$ 4,000 – 6,000.
  • Modernist jeweler and sculptor, Peter Macchiarini (1909-2001) mixed metal pendant. The avant-garde round disc design features dimensional layers of mixed metals complete with a triangular-cut agate. Offered with an estimate of US$ 600-800.
  • Macchiarini mixed metal pendant
  • Macchiarini mixed metal pendant
  • Silver designer William Spratling (1900-1967), a silver and copper conceptual floral brooch. Offered with an estimate of US$ 1,500 – 2,500.