Cartier’s Million-Dollar Egyptian Art Deco Brooch

Louis Cartier, founder of the legendary house of Cartier, personally collected and studied Egyptian antiquities. He set the ancient artifact centering this beautiful brooch—the goddess Sekhmet (protector of the pharaohs), depicted as a lion—into a classically Art Deco design in 1923, just a year after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb kicked off an era of Egyptomania in ­jewelry design. Carol Elkins, senior vice president and specialist for Sotheby’s, which sold the brooch in its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York City in December, says Cartier fabricated only about 150 pieces using Egyptian artifacts, “so they don’t come up that often in auction.” Elkins adds that the fan-shape pin, which came in its original box, was probably shown at the Paris Exhibition in 1925, known as the launching point for the Art Deco style. “The piece looks forward and looks ­backward,” she says. “It’s a perfect marriage between new and old materials.” 

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