Nice Ice: Highlights From the 2016 Biennale des Antiquaires

The 28th edition of the prestige art and antiques fair takes place Sept. 10–18 at Paris’ Grand Palais

If you follow the international jewelry and art press on social media, expect this week to see feeds dominated by what I like to think of as the Olympics of high jewelry, the 2016 Biennale des Antiquaires, a prestigious gathering of art and antiques dealers that opened at the Grand Palais in Paris on Sept. 10.

Traditionally home to powerhouse jewelry maisons such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Bulgari—which create special collections for the biannual affair replete with one-of-a-kind jewels dripping with diamonds and precious gems—the event will feel a little different this year.

That’s because, due to a squabble over the size of their stands, 11 out of the 14 jewelry houses that showed in 2014 have not returned, including the prestige makers named above. In May, writer Rachel Garrahan covered the brouhaha in The New York Times.

Despite the controversy, there will still be lots of breathtaking baubles to admire at the Grand Palais this week. Here are some of my faves.

Bernard Bouisset


Based in Béziers, France, this antique jewelry gallery is showing an exceptional pair of ear pendants in platinum, circa 1930, each set with 6.7 ct. diamonds and accented with round and baguette stones (photo courtesy of Bernard Bouisset).



Geneva-based Boghossian is exhibiting this ring featuring a 26.26 ct. Ceylon cushion-shape sapphire inlaid in chalcedony (photo courtesy of Boghossian).

De Grisogono


Founded by black diamond pioneer Fawaz Gruosi, Geneva-based de Grisogono is showing this high jewelry white gold ring featuring a 10.15 ct. round diamond accented with 1.2 cts. emeralds and 8.97 cts. t.w. white diamonds (photo courtesy of de Grisogono).

Epoque Fine Jewels


A period and antique jewelry dealer based in Kortrijk, Belgium, Epoque Fine Jewels is showing this important sapphire, emerald, and diamond bird of paradise brooch by Cartier, mounted in platinum and gold. Signed “Cartier Paris” and numbered, the piece was made in Paris, circa 1950. The sapphire weight totals 20 cts. and the diamond weight totals 11.2 cts. (photo courtesy of Epoque Fine Jewels).

Martin du Daffoy


A Biennale participant since 1984, Martin du Daffoy maintains a salon in Paris’ legendary Place Vendôme. Among the treasures on display at his stand this week is this Art Deco diamond-set pendant and chain set in platinum (photo © Carole Goizet).

Nirav Modi


Nirav Modi grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, in a family of diamantaires. Having recently opened a boutique on the tony stretch of Madison Avenue in New York City, he now creates opulent diamond-set jewels, including this 18k white gold Ainra bracelet featuring more than 47 cts. of fancy champagne pink marquise diamonds and brilliant-cut white diamonds set within an all-diamond Ainra-cut diamond link framework (photo courtesy of Nirav Modi).


Modi is also exhibiting this one-of-a-kind Emerald Maharani necklace, which channels the spirit of India’s maharajas. The necklace combines more than 870 cts. of graduated, perfectly matched, vivid green emerald beads with more than 146 cts. of oval- and pear-shape diamonds (photo courtesy of Nirav Modi).

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