Published 8th January 2014
Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's Winter 2014 Fine Art Sale has an interesting and varied collection of jewellery to suit all tastes, from the decorative Victorian to gems set in simple but striking settings.
Georg Jensen (1866-1935), a native of Denmark, originally trained as a goldsmith before pursuing his true passion, which was sculpture.
After Jensen graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, he found it difficult to survive as a pure artist and so he turned to ceramics. After a private venture in this area proved unsuccessful, he turned back to metalwork and began to specialise as a silversmith where he found his true metier.
His work was strongly influenced by Art Nouveau and the subsequent work produced in his name still retains that feel, together with his strongly held principles of artistry in design and craftsmanship. Lot 183 in this sale is just a simple circular silver brooch produced in the late 1950s but the elegance of the design and the way it works so well in the material used shows Jensen's influence as strongly as ever.
Amber is a fascinating material: essentially, it is fossilised tree resin. The resin is produced by certain types of tree as a defence mechanism to repair and sterilise damage. In cases where this resin has fossilised over thousands of years, you have Amber. The quantities produced by trees can be quite large and appear quickly, hence the occasional plant or insect found encased in Amber. It is a material that has been recognised and appreciated over hundreds of years for its decorative value and even a simple bead necklace, such as lot 186, will attract bids of several hundred pounds.
Victorian jewellery has a unique charm and is very evocative of the period from which it comes. The slightly delicate and perhaps more romantic styling of these period pieces is very appealing and the different cuts of stones which were commonly used then mark them out as from another era. There are several examples in this sale including a mid 19th Century gold, diamond and turquoise enamel mounted bracelet (FS21/195). The way the gold mount is chased and engraved, together with the 'snake-like' linking of the bracelet, could be viewed as over-fussy on such a small piece and yet it is undeniably pretty and speaks of quality craftsmanship.
The principal precious gems are generally associated with one colour each, so for instance rubies are red, no? In fact the ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum, as is the sapphire. So the same mineral is referred to by a different name depending on how its colour has been affected by different elements that are included in its makeup. Therefore, sapphires are not always blue. A sapphire which is not a deep enough red to be classed as a ruby is called a pink sapphire and an example of this is found in the cushion shaped pink sapphire, single stone ring (FS21/211) in the fine jewellery auction
No other gem stone, however, has quite the status, mystique and fascination of the diamond. Its brilliance means a single stone in the simplest setting can outshine lesser gems in more complex ones. A good example in this sale is a diamond single stone ring with a circular, brilliant cut diamond, weighing 1.38 carats (FS21/232). It is estimated to fetch between £1,200 and £1,400.