By Åse Anderson
Ever since its launch in 2010, Masterpiece London has become synonymous with some of the world’s most coveted vintage jewellery, and this year is no different. The exclusive event, held on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, will be teeming with an array of retro and vintage jewellery, carefully curated by esteemed antiques dealers and world-renowned jewellery houses. We have picked out our top five jewels that span a variety of time periods, but which all display beautiful design and immaculate craftsmanship, rendering them timeless classics.
Like global treasure hunters, London-based Symbolic & Chase hunts down the finest jewels from the late 19th century to the present day, all selected for their beauty as well as historical significance. Their Masterpiece London display will include this Tahitian pearl and diamond bracelet from Cartier dating back to the 1950s. The French jewellery house was at the forefront of jewellery design in the mid 20th century, creating extravagant adornments for stylish ladies to wear to the social whirlwind of cocktail parties.
With a history as colourful as the pearls decorating it, this particular bracelet once belonged to Sita Devi, the Maharani of Baroda, who fled India after the country gained independence in 1947. With her jewels loaded into numerous trunks, she headed straight for Paris, where she became a familiar face on both the high society circuit and in the jewellery houses of Place Vendôme.
More Cartier pieces can be found among the eye-catching display from Siegelson, which is always an unmissable stop on our Masterpiece London itinerary. Designed in the mid 1920s, this magnificent Cartier bracelet boasts the symmetry and bold colour that defined the period’s Art Deco jewellery. In tapered black lacquer, the bracelet is set with diamonds and emeralds, with natural pearls at either end of the open closure.
Based in New York, Fred Leighton has a long history of helping connoisseurs add to their vintage jewellery collections with pieces from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Set with a rare 52ct oval aquamarine, this René Boivin gold cuff is typical of the retro jewellery created in the 1940s when World War II brought with it a scarcity of precious stones.
The Hancocks stand at Masterpiece London will also feature a fabulous set of retro jewellery from the 1940s: a citrine and gold necklace and bracelet designed by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin. The design partnership of Parisian jeweller Mauboussin and New York-based Trabert & Hoeffer was behind one of the most memorable jewellery collections of the era. Crafted from yellow gold and semi-precious coloured gemstones, the Reflections collection was inspired by the legendary 1931 Paris Exposition.
Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery will be on display at the London exhibition for the very first time, with a line-up that showcases the Maison’s rich heritage. The iconic Ludo Hexagone bracelet, which gets its name from founder Louis Arpels’ nickname, first appeared at Van Cleef & Arpels in 1935. With its signature gem-encrusted buckle clasp, the bracelet was an instant hit and remained in production until the early 1950s. The Ludo Hexagone bracelet was available with different coloured gemstones, including this yellow gold version with rubies in the Maison’s patented Mystery Setting, which creates the illusion of a seamless surface.