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A Killer Season of Jewelry Auctions Kicks Off With a Bonhams Sale


Watch this space—there are many, many jewels headed to auction this fall, and Monday’s California Jewels sale at Bonhams is a great way to start the party off right.

I am honestly feeling a little bit stalked by the opal necklace pictured up top, as alerts to the sale keep popping up in my Facebook feed (guess the algorithm really knows my number—wouldn’t be the first time) with this image front and center.  It’s a Louis Comfort Tiffany design, and while the 8 ct. opal centerpiece is divine, the details on the mounting and chain make it an exemplary art nouveau jewel from the period.

In a press release for the sale, Emily Waterfall, head of jewelry, Bonhams Los Angeles, noted that jewels by the famed former design director of Tiffany (and master of stained glass artwork) were often based on ancient cultures like Egypt’s, “as you can see in the scarab-like filigree on the opal necklace,” she noted. “He often paid as much attention to the chain and the clasp as to the central stone element. [Louis Comfort Tiffany] pieces are treasured, and when they come to the market they often exceed the estimates.”

Bonhams has done well with Louis Comfort Tiffany pieces in the past: In 2017, for instance, a black opal and sapphire necklace sold for $44,000. Pictured below are two more Louis Comfort Tiffany–designed jewels featured in the sale.

Louis Comfort Tiffany moonstone necklace
Lot 300: Circa 1900 necklace in 18k gold with moonstones, sapphires, and enamel, Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co.
Louis Comfort Tiffany moonstone bracelet
Lot 299: Circa 1910 bracelet in 18k gold and platinum with moonstones and sapphires, Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co

The sale also contains an assortment of Tiffany jewels from different periods in the 200-year-old company’s history, including a rare enamel floral brooch by Paulding Farnham, a set of hardstone necklaces by Angela Cummings, earrings by Elsa Peretti, and rings by Schlumberger.

Angela cummings beads
Lot 259: Set of three 18k gold and beaded necklaces of blue lace agate, red jasper, and black onyx, signed Tiffany & Co., attributed to Angela Cummings
Paulding Farnham brooch
Lot 298: Circa 1900 floral brooch in 18k gold with old mine–cut diamond and purple enamel petals, Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co.

But there are lots of no-name gold charm bracelets and diamond-set goodies in the sale as well. And a certain kind of collector is sure to go wild for an oddball menagerie of brooches by famed British jeweler Elizabeth Gage. Pictured below, each is a definite highlight of the sale, especially if you prefer newly minted Tiffany to the collector’s items or just delight in the whimsy of animal jewels (I mean, who doesn’t?).

Elizabeth Gage animal brooches
Lots 97–99: Clockwise, from bottom: Cat brooch in 18k gold and carved tourmaline; Lioness brooch in 18k gold with petrified palm wood and carnelian; Parrot brooch in 18k gold with carved tourmaline, rock crystal, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl; all Elizabeth Gage

Top: Lot 301: Circa 1900 necklace in 18k gold with opal, demantoid garnet, and enamel, Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co. Bonhams’ California Jewels sale starts Monday at 1 p.m. ET.

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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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