COMMENTARY – Provenance boosts jewels at Bonhams London sale
By David Brough
December 2019 – Provenance linked to aristocracy, royals and a celebrated novelist boosted values of the top lots at Bonhams London Jewels sale on December 4.
Among standout items, a rock crystal, emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, 1912, which once belonged to aristocratic writer Vita Sackville-West, fetched a hammer price of 82,000 GBP, comfortably above its 50,000-70,000 GBP pre-sale estimate.
A historic emerald, rock crystal and diamond necklace, by Cartier, 1912
The nobility and celebrity of Sackville-West underpinned the competitive bidding for the piece, which was showcased a few days before the sale at the Bonhams annual jewellery lunch on New Bond Street.
Items with royal connections also attracted the fascination of collectors, such as an Art Deco nephrite and gold Grande Sonnerie desk clock, by Cartier, circa 1925, which had belonged to Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina, which garnered 86,000 GBP, exceeding its 50,000-80,000 GBP estimate.
A selection of jewels that had belonged to novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford, excelled in the sale, notably a pair of diamond chandelier earrings, by David Morris, which sold for a hammer price of 24,000 GBP, more than triple their estimate.
The highest value lot in the sale was an Art Deco rock crystal, gold, agate, enamel and diamond set “Mystery Clock” by Cartier, 1919, which achieved a hammer price of 490,000 GBP, soaring above its 150,000-250,000 GBP estimate.
Exquisite signed pieces often outperform in high-value jewellery auctions, with Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels again producing strong results at the Bonhams sale.
Signed pieces with the additional advantage of provenance did exceptionally well.
An Art Deco aquamarine and diamond necklace, by Cartier, circa 1940