One of New York’s most well-attended decorative arts and antiques fairs, TEFAF, opens this weekend in the city’s historic Park Avenue Armory, with its crenellated towers, barrel vaulted roof, and dimly lit Haunting of Hill House-esque entryway.
But there’s certainly nothing to fear while roaming the nooks and crannies of this storied space, especially if you have a passion for jewels of the highest order—particularly signed pieces from the Art Deco era. In this case, it’s smart to make Siegelson your first stop at the show. One of the most respected dealers of rare, museum-quality antique jewelry and objets here in New York and well-known throughout the world, the firm will have several important works on offer.
“Collectors have a strong appreciation and appetite for sculptural 20th-century designs that are beautiful, wearable, and have a strong history,” says third-generation company owner Lee Siegelson, who caters to consumer clients and retailers looking for the consummate examples of 20th–century jewelry design.
One such piece making its TEFAF debut is the necklace below by Suzanne Belperron. In fact, it’s the first time it has ever been available for sale (Siegelson acquired it from the original family estate).
Belperron is one of the most sought-after names in Siegelson’s inventory (JCK recently photographed one of the firm’s Belperron brooches for the magazine’s “Estate Jewelry Secrets” article, a sculptural beauty in rose quartz, ruby, and enamel).
Meanwhile, Alexander Calder jewelry is also a hot ticket, and at TEFAF, Siegelson will be presenting the artist’s Six Circles brooch.
Interest in Alexander Calder has been on the rise ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art staged an exhibit of the artist’s jewelry in 2008. Last fall’s exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art has further increased the artist’s name recognition among the uninitiated and perhaps heightened the appeal of acquiring one of his jewelry works among established Calder enthusiasts and collectors. Certainly, we have seen the influence of his work on contemporary jewelry designers, but there’s nothing quite like owning—and wearing—an original work crafted by the artist himself, is there?
“The way these masterpieces of jewelry interact with the body is unlike any other art form,” says Siegelson.
Although Calder is best known for his mobiles and kinetic sculpture, jewelry was a métier the artist held dear.
“He made jewelry as a child for for his sister’s dolls,” notes Siegelson. “He often made the pieces to give as gifts to close friends and collectors, so it was very meaningful to him and a way to turn the body into a part of the artwork, which is one of the most beautiful aspects of the jewelry I sell.”
Based on the pieces showcased here, this sentiment extends beyond Calder to other makers and artists in Siegelson’s collection, including the brooch below by Gérard Sandoz, an exemplar of the French Art Deco style who once said: “It’s possible to make very beautiful jewelry simply with gold and to make horrors with rivers of diamonds.”
Or this bracelet…
…or this incredible suite from the most influential Native American jeweler of the 20th century.
Top: Art Deco bracelet with coral, onyx beads, and diamonds in platinum, with a black enamel clasp, 1922; Cartier Paris
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