You Need to See This Antique Jewelry Exhibit ASAP

Because “Deceptively Modern Jewelry: 1940s–1980” goes back in the vault on Nov. 15. Hosted by the esteemed antique and estate jewelry A La Vieille Russie (ALVR) in New York City, it’s a small gathering of treasures you can easily squeeze in on a lunch break or in between appointments in the Diamond District. Afterward, you’ll skip your way through the rest of the day, uplifted by what you’ve seen, even on the grayest of November days. (Magnify this feeling by a 1,000 if you actually buy something!)

The 70 designs are inspiring, wildly luxe, exceedingly rare, and perhaps most interesting of all, completely relevant in a modern-day context.

ALVR director Peter Schaffer curated the works and also included some couture fashion from the represented decades in collaboration with couture and vintage fashion dealer Katy Kane.

Featured jewelry designers include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Mauboussin, Verdura, Pierre Sterlé, Angela Cummings, David Thomas, and Andrew Grima, among others.

There are quite a few matching sets, most notably an engraved group of bracelets and earrings that is so perfectly 1970s glam (pictured below). It’s by master 20th-century jewelry artist Georges L’Enfant who produced pieces for some of the most famous jewelry houses in Europe including Van Cleef & Arpels, Hermès, and Cartier.

ALVR Georges Lenfant Bulgari
Tournesol demi-parure of two bracelets (first and second from left) and earrings (also on model) in 18k gold; Eventail bracelet in 18k gold (third from left), and Renaissance bracelet (far right) in 18k gold; all Georges L’Enfant, 1976

And this marvelous flexible gold necklace/bracelet duo from Cartier (below) is from 1940 but could easily be from 1980 or later. Who wouldn’t be happy to wear this today? Over a turtleneck, I’m thinking, because the 1990s are back, and how great would the bracelet look with a vintage watch and a stack of bangles?

ALVR Cartier necklace and bracelet
Gas Pipe necklace and bracelet composed of triangular elements in 18k gold, Cartier, Paris, both circa 1940

A few more highlights from the collection below.

ALVR Angela Cummings for Tiffany cuff
Steel and gold cuff (damascene technique), Angela Cummings for Tiffany & Co., circa 1975; price on request
ALVR aquamarine and diamond necklace
Aquamarine and diamond necklace in 18k white gold, c. 1950; price on request
ALVR David Thomas set
Sculptural citrine and 18k gold necklace with matching ring, David Thomas, London, circa 1950; price on request
ALVR Gold Gas Pipe bracelet
French Gas Pipe bracelet in 18k gold, circa 1940s; price on request
ALVR gold geometric link bracelet and necklace
French geometric link necklace and matching bracelet in 18k gold, circa 1960; price on request
ALVR Pierre Sterle brooch
Feather brooch with diamonds in 18k gold and platinum, Pierre Sterlé, circa 1950; price on request 


Top: Bracelets, from bottom left: baguette sapphire bracelet in 18k gold, Gübelin, circa 1950; citrine and diamond bracelet in 18k gold, Cartier, circa 1950; and black enamel and 18k gold bracelet, Cartier, circa 1975; all prices on request. All three designs appear in the “Deceptively Modern Jewelry” exhibition at A La Vieille Russie, 745 Fifth Ave. in New York City and are on view through Nov. 15.

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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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