Revival Jewels

Couturier Visionaire - Pierre Sterlé

RVJOComment

One of the most important masters in modern jewellery design, Pierre Sterlé was an originative designer and a true visionary. He broke new ground with his unique and elegant designs, earning himself the title of 'couturier of jewellery'. Although he could not sketch, he conveyed his ideas to a team of designers such as Jacques Desnoues and Yves Poussielgues, who faithfully brought them to life. He was inspired by nature -  flowers, birds, leaves, feathers, arrows and bows featured predominantly in his work. His clientele included Parisian literati, high society and royalty.

Photo of Pierre Sterlé. Courtesy of Peter Edwards Jewels

 

Sterlé was born in 1905 into a banking family. His father died in the First World War and Sterlé was sent to live with his uncle Maynier-Pincon, a jeweller in Paris who owned a shop on rue de Castiglione. It was there that he was introduced to the jewellery profession, learning his skills in his uncle’s workshop.

Sterlé demonstrated a prodigious talent. In 1934,  at the age of 29, he opened his first salon on rue Sainte Anne in Paris. He also designed and manufactured jewellery for many distinguished jewellery houses such as Chaumet, Boucheron, Ostertag and Puiforcat. Nobel laureate, the writer Colette, became one of his first clients.

He was the inventor of a jewellery technique known as fil d’ange or ‘angel wire’, a gold plaiting technique where he crafted gold wire into fine ropes. This allowed him to create fringes of fox-tail chains that became a signature of his style and which he used to great effect, particularly on his bird brooches. He was sometimes playfully nicknamed ‘the torturer of wire’ as he formed metals into previously unseen forms. The rope or chain mail-like effect created a delicate sense of fluidity and movement and which was so unique at that time; made his designs come to life and imbued them with a sense of energy and vitality.

The chain was often used to represent the feathers on his bird brooches, fins on fish and stamens of flowers or anywhere he wanted to create a sense of movement in his pieces. Sterlé also enjoyed juxtaposing several textures and shades of gold to create a multi-dimensional piece. Grandiose and asymmetrical forms were also typical of his style. His daring combinations of colour together with precious and semi precious stones were considered unusual and some of Sterlé’s most iconic pieces are his birds with bodies of pearl, coral or other colourful stones. 

A Multi-Gem Diamond and Gold Bird Brooch, by Sterlé
Price Realised USD $40,291 (estimate 20,225 - 30,338) Christie's 15th November, 2016, Geneva

 

The designs of Sterlé soon travelled far and wide and as his reputation grew he began to accept more individual commissions and by 1939 he was exclusively creating jewellery for private clients. In 1945 he opened a third floor show room on avenue de l’Opera. Here he could better accommodate his clientele, which included prominent collectors of the time such as King Farouk of Egypt who commissioned a remodelling of the crown jewels for his wife; the Maharani of Baroda, and President Vargas of Brazil. His makers mark has the facade of the Opera on it.

Sterlé’s success carried on into the 1950s where his designs captured the luxurious spirit of the era. Jewellery in particular of this era had a sense of movement and lightness and often centred around nature inspired themes. Gold was worked into cloth-like patterns by twisting and weaving. Parures - matching sets of three or more jewellery items, came back into fashion and he created the most beautiful parures and demi-parures. 

A Citrine, Diamond and Gold Demi-Parure, Pierre Sterlé. Comprising a necklace and bracelet, the graduated necklace designed as a wreath of leaves set with pear-shaped citrines, the spines set with single-cut and round diamonds, the bracelet of similar design enhanced by a gold link tassel accented by round diamonds at the terminals; mounted in 18 karat yellow gold, with French assay marks.

A Suite of 18K Gold and Diamond Jewellery, Sterlé (Available at www.revivaljewels.com)

His diamond pieces are supremely elegant and graceful. He favoured using the sparkle of brilliant cut diamonds together with clean baguette cuts in the same piece to create contrast. Even in pieces with no movement the designs shows a sense of fluidity. He won the DeBeers Diamond Award three years in a row from 1953-1955.

A Bangle-Bracelet, by Pierre Sterlé, circa 1950

 

Unfortunately due to a series of misfortunes, and an unsuccessful attempt to diversify into perfume, Sterlé was forced to sell many of his designs to Chaumet and Montreaux (New York). He managed to recover and exhibited a successful display at the 1966 Paris Biennale where his jewellery caused a sensation. Previously Sterlé had been against opening a retail store but inspired by the success of the Paris show, he did open a boutique in 1969 on rue Saint-Honore. The demands and cost the store proved too heavy and in 1976, he declared bankruptcy. Sterlé became a technical advisor for Chaumet and they bought his remaining unsold stock. Some of his jewellery from this period is also signed by Chaumet but still have Sterlé’s distinct style and design. Sterlé worked for Chaumet until his death in 1978.

We've moved!

Brenda KangComment

We are in the midst of moving, and our new showroom will be ready to receive you from the 8th of December onwards. 

Our new address is at: 

501 Orchard Road #04-05B
Wheelock Place
Singapore 238880
Tel: +65 6635 1735

Hope to see you soon!

In Retro - The Glamorous 40's

RVJOComment

"Retro" jewellery as we know today, was a term coined by Francois Curiel, head of the jewellery department at Christie's New York in the 1970's to distinguish jewellery produced in the late 1930's to 1950's from contemporary jewellery. As the world felt the ravages and changes brought about by World War II, jewellery designers in Europe and America responded by creating jewellery that was bolder, brighter and more exuberant. To complement the austerity of wartime fashions and to assuage the sombre mood felt during the war, jewellery designs became more curvilinear and featured motifs that were feminine and lighthearted; a striking difference from the Art Deco style.

Late 1930's fashion. Women wore long sleek suits with feminine adornments such as bows and ribbons.
Image source: http://www.missmoss.co.za/2010/08/05/1930s-fashion/

1940's utility fashion during the war. Hemlines were shortened for ease of movement; due in part to the rationing of fabric.
Image source: http://glamourdaze.com/2009/08/1940s-fashion-womens-dress-code.html

Hollywood star, Joan Crawford in the 1940's. Coordinating skirt and jacket suits, large shoulders, and cinched waists were the order of the day.
Image source: http://www.instyle.co.uk/fashion/trends/1940s-fashion-a-decade-in-style-icons

 

Platinum was scarce and gold became the metal of choice. Materials for new jewellery were hard to come by and many people sent their old jewellery to be refashioned. Jewellers came up with ingenious ways to create a "bigger look for less" and commonly used highly polished low karat gold alloys, in yellow, rose and green; setting them with large colourful gemstones such as amethysts, aquamarines, citrines and topazes. As designers looked both to the past and future for inspiration, bow and ribbon brooches made a huge resurgence, albeit in sculptural and larger forms. Sunburst and floral motifs of the Victorian era were boldly reinvented, often applied to large clip-on earrings. Modern tank treads and assembly lines were translated into chunky bracelets that were ahead of their time. Whimsical charm bracelets, as well as cocktail rings in bombe and boule style were all the rage. Gold was manipulated in a multitude of ways; tubogas, woven, braided and coiled. The convertible jewellery trend - necklaces, bracelets and double clips remained highly popular well into the 1960's.

 

From L - R: An 18K Yellow Gold and Diamond "Moineau" Clip Brooch, by Rene Boivin, 1945 (Available at www.revivaljewels.com); A Retro Yellow Gold Necklace, by Fred, circa 1940's (Available at www.revivaljewels.com); Retro Amethyst and Gold Earrings; A Retro Diamond and Pink Gold Bow Brooch, by Tiffany & Co., 1940's (www.revivaljewels.com); An 18K Retro Yellow Gold "Tank Track" Bracelet, circa 1940's (www.revivaljewels.com)

 

Cartier, with Jean Toussaint at its helm, started moving away from Art Deco and began creating figurative work in the late 1930's. Always at the forefront of fashion, she was one of the first to bring yellow gold back in fashion. Toussaint felt that jewellery needed to be based on joy, and created a series of whimsical birds that Cartier became known for. Flamingoes and parrots were her favourite. In 1940, the house introduced a caged bird, a symbol of resistance against the Nazi occupation. Days after the liberation of Paris, a version with a bird poised for flight, with the cage door open, appeared in Cartier's windows. While touring in Africa, Toussaint came across panther and was inspired to create the first "Panthere" brooch for the Duchess of Windsor.

From L to R: The Duchess of Windsor wears her Flamingo Brooch, by Cartier; Bird in a Cage Brooch, by Cartier; A Gem Set and Diamond Brooch, by Cartier, 1940's; An 18K Gold Clip and Bangle-Bracelet Combination, Cartier, Paris, circa 1940; An Aquamarine, Diamond and Rose Gold Bracelet, by Cartier, 1940's; A Gold Panther Brooch, 1940's; A Gem Set Bird Brooch, by Cartier

 

Van Cleef & Arpels invented the mystery setting in 1933, and went on to introduce the iconic Ludo Hexagone - an articulated ribbon of small hexagones, in 1935. The design was mostly applied to bracelets and watches, and matching double clips and earrings. An incredible success, it was produced until the 1950's. Equally emblematic Van Cleef & Arpels pieces included the Pivoine Clip - a double clip in the mystery setting, the revolutionary Zip Necklace - first commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor as a tribute to the newly invented zipper; the Passe-Partout Necklace, and the Ballerina and Fairy collection of clips. The Hawaii Collections, a series of small clips and rings, with the patriotic colours of red, blue and white proved to be popular during and after the war.

From L to R: A Gold and Ruby Ludo-Hexagone Bracelet, by Van Cleef & Arpels and The Pivoine Clip; Spirit of Beauty Fairy Clip in Platinum Set with Rubies, Emeralds and Diamonds, circa 1944; The Passe-Partout Necklace in Sapphire, Ruby and Gold, which can be detached to be worn as bracelet, belt and clips; A Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond "Hawaii" Brooch, by Van Cleef & Arpels, 1940's; A Cadenas Watch, by Van Cleef & Arpels, 1935Ballerina Clip, by Van Cleef & Arpels, 1943A Drawing and Gold Zip Necklace, by Van Cleef & Arpels. The necklace is detachable into a bracelet, 1951.

 

Hollywood glamour was at its peak and actors and actresses were setting the trends and fashion for the masses, instead of European royalty as before. Jewels from American jewellers such as Paul Flato, Trabert & Hoeffer - Mauboussin, Verdura and Tiffany & Co. were worn by celebrities both on and off screen. To escape the war, many European jewellers had emigrated to America, setting up their businesses amidst the booming economy. The import of European jewellery making techniques helped American jewellers take their creations to a higher level.

From L to R: Joan Benett, wearing her collection of Flato clips; Doris Day, in a striped t-shirt, blazer over shoulders, wearing chunky necklace and a brooch,  Merle Oberon, wearing a necklace resembling the Passe-Partout by Van Cleef & Arpels; Joan Crawford, making a statement with a floral dress, wearing a large pendant and chunky bracelet; A Pink Topaz Flora and Fauna Motif Clip Brooch, Verdura; A Diamond and Platinum Double Clip Brooch, by Trabert & Hoeffer - Mauboussin, circa 1940; A Citrine and Gold Necklace, by Fulco di Verdura; A Suite of Jewellery, by Tiffany & Co., 1940's

 

Once the war had ended, jewellery reverted to a more understated and traditional look. Platinum was widely available again and the marketing work by De Beers and Harry Winston saw an increased demand for diamond and platinum jewellery. Jewellers continued developing their pre-war designs, and 1950's jewellery featured more spirals, textures and flourishes. By the swinging 60's, Retro jewels went entirely out of style. Today, Retro jewellery is still very much loved and collectible as they represent a unique and exceptionally creative period in history; and their versatility and timelessness lend an interesting twist to contemporary dress. 

 

Marianne Ostier and Ostier, Inc. - Rare and Collectible

RVJOComment

Between the late 1930s to 1960s, Ostier, Inc. competed amongst the greatest jewellery houses in Manhattan and produced some of the finest examples of fashionable mid-century jewellery that have become classic references for today's designs. The firm was founded by a husband and wife team - design virtuoso, Marianne Ostier (1902-1976) and Oliver Ostier, a third-generation court jeweller from Austria. 

The artist-turned-jeweller received her education at the Vienna Academy of Arts and Crafts. A painter and sculptor, she began to work in the field of jewellery after marrying her husband, Otto Oesterreicher. Following the Nazi annexation of Austria, Marianne and Oliver moved to the United States and started a firm under their new name, Ostier. Marianne displayed an extraordinary talent for jewellery design, and her creations, known for their organic textures and intricate random mountings, bore the influence of her artistic training. 

For her work, Marianne Ostier has been presented with many prestigious diamond design awards. She was the first life-time member elected to the Diamonds-International Academy, as well as the winner of the Diamond U.S.A Award for three consecutive years, and also received the Diamond International Award for design excellence. She represented the United States at the Art in Precious Jewellery Exhibition at the Finch College Museum of Art in 1966, which featured the work of the foremost designers of ten countries and included Georges Braques and Salvador Dali. The famed skin pin, pincushion clip, abstract and free-form jewellery have all been attributed to her. 

After the death of Oliver in 1969, Marianne Ostier felt the increased burden of running the business and chose to close the company. "With the passing of my husband, I have had to devote more and more of my efforts to administrative duties. These demands of my time can no longer be met without artistic compromise which to me is unacceptable." The entire inventory of the firm was auctioned by the Park-Bernet Galleries in 1969.

A Platinum and Diamond Tiara, designed by Marianne Ostier for Oesterreicher, Wien


Depicting the Albanian royal crest of the 'Ram of Skanderberg' atop a graduated floral vine, set with old European and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 28.05 carats, accented by baguette diamonds weighing approximately 4.80 carats; circa 1938. With signed and fitted royal presentation box.
Sold for $225,000 USD (estimate $30,000 - 50,000) at Sotheby's NY April 19th, 2016.

Platinum and Diamond "Galaxy Brooch", by Marianne Ostier, circa 1955


The swirled, celestial design centering one round diamond weighing 5.26 carats, accented by additional round diamonds weighing approximately 35.00 carats, with marker's mark, circa 1955. With signed box.
Sold for $250,000 (estimate $45,000 - 55,000) at Sotheby's NY April 19th, 2016.

A Pair of Diamond and Cultured Pearl Earclips with Interchangeable Centers, by Marianne Ostier, circa 1950 


The angular openwork stars set with 90 baguette, whistle-cut, square-cut and triangular-cut diamonds weighing approximately 8.00 carats, centering clusters of round diamonds and cultured pearls measuring 7.2 to 6.0 mm., or a pair of diamond clusters set with 38 round diamonds weighing approximately 5.35 carats, mounted in platinum, signed MO for Marianne Ostier.
 

A Pair of Diamond Earclips, by Marianne Ostier (Available at www.revivaljewels.com)


Designed as stylised flowers accented by 157 circular-cut pave diamonds and mounted in platinum, circa 1960.

 

An 18K Gold, Platinum, Emerald and Diamond "Voodoo" Necklace, by Marianne Ostier

 

Designed as a textured chased fringe highlighted by seventeen cabochon emeralds and diamond-melee-set branches, approx. total diamond wt. 6.22 cts., lg. 15 1/4 in., signed Marianne Ostier.

 

A Pearl and Diamond "Torsade" Bracelet, by Marianne Ostier, circa 1955

 

Centering an elegant platinum and 18K white gold domed clasp featuring six parallel rows of circular-cut and straight baguette-cut diamonds within flared diamond borders (approximately 8 carats total weight), strung with 11 strands of 3-4mm black cultured pearls, hallmarked for Marianne Ostier, measuring 8 1/2 inches flat, twisting down to 7 1/2 inches on the wrist, recently restrung, American, circa 1955. The domed center segment hinges up and down to attach and release the domed center segment on one side.

 

Signature of Marianne Ostier (M. Ostier) stamped on a bracelet. Sometimes, they are also marked MO.

Mogok - The Valley of Rubies

RVJOComment

"Long before the Buddha walked the earth, the northern part of Burma was said to be inhabited only by wild animals and birds of prey. One day the biggest and oldest eagle in creation flew over a valley. On a hillside shone an enormous morsel of fresh meat, bright red in color. The eagle attempted to pick it up, but its claws could not penetrate the blood-red substance. Try as he may, he could not grasp it. After many attempts, at last he understood. It was not a piece of meat, but a sacred and peerless stone, made from the fire and blood of the earth itself. The stone was the first ruby on earth and the valley was Mogok".

Burma has long been associated with the most desirable rubies in the world. Within Burma (Myanmar), the most famed region is the Mogok Valley, or Mogok Stone Tract, in the Pyin Oo Lwin district, north-east of Mandalay: a small area of a dozen square miles, of which only a portion is gem-bearing. Meanwhile, there are a few more small deposits to the North of Mogok, such as Namya, that produce rubies with similar characteristics. Although it is uncertain when mining first began, accounts indicate that rubies have been sourced in the Mogok area for well over a thousand years. 

An Oriental miniature dated 1582, representing the Valley of Serpents, guarded by snakes. Eagles carry in their beaks pieces of meat in which gems are embedded, illustrating an Indian legend that appears in the tale of Sinbad the Sailor in the Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Illustration courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Source: http://www.lotusgemology.com/index.php/library/articles/286-pigeon-s-blood-a-pilgrimage-to-mogok-valley-of-rubies

The earliest surviving records of mining activity began in 1597, when the King of Burma took over the mines. Burmese rubies, especially the ones from Mogok, have since sustained the longest renown. 

Mogok-type rubies typically possess a red body colour and red UV-fluorescence. In addition, they may contain tiny amounts of light scattering rutile silk and a swirl-like growth pattern. It is this combination of features which give these rubies their characteristic appearance.

Rutile silk in a Burmese ruby. Photo: R.W Hughes. 

Rutile silk in a Burmese ruby. Photo: R.W Hughes. 

Silk and fluorescence - a winning combination. Photo: Wimon Manorotkul

Silk and fluorescence - a winning combination. Photo: Wimon Manorotkul

The ruby can command the highest prices of any coloured gemstone. Per carat prices of top-quality rubies have been rising, and broken numerous auction results. When appraising rubies, four factors come into play - Colour, Clarity, Cut, Size and Weight. 

Colour is of utmost importance in determining a ruby's value. A saturated, pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red colour is always desired. Orangey or purplish hues would rank lower on the quality scale. With certain stones that have a lighter pinkish hue, the stone would be called a pink sapphire instead. "Pigeon's Blood" is a term conferred on stones that display the finest examples of colour (slightly purplish to pinkish red, with a soft, glowing red fluorescence). 

A natural, untreated ruby will almost always have some form of inclusion. Overtly conspicuous inclusions that lower a ruby's transparency, brightness or durability will always have a detrimental effect on its value. Intersecting rutile silk can sometimes cause asterism, a star effect on the surface of the ruby when it is cut into a cabochon, lending a unique beauty and increased value to the stone, when the star is of perfect symmetry, with good length (reaching the edge of the gem) and a sharp visible lines for each star.

Rubies are commonly fashioned into ovals and cushions, as these are most suitable to its natural crystal shape. Other shapes such as round, triangular, emerald-cut, pear and marquise rubies can also be found, though these would be hard to come by in larger sizes and higher qualities. The appearance of red to purplish red in one crystal direction and orangey red in the other is called Pleochroism and would be one of the considerations made during the cutting process. The cutter would always try to minimise the orangey colour by orienting the table facet to achieve a more even reddish purplish tone, but rarely at the expense of stone weight loss. 

Fine rubies larger than one carat are very rare, and the price per carat increases exponentially for large size stones. Due to the higher density of rubies, a 1 carat ruby will always look smaller than a 1 carat diamond.

 

 

A Superb Ruby and Diamond Ring, by Etcetera (Price realised USD 3,3457,042) - Sold by Christie's 29th May 2012, Hong Kong (Source: www.christies.com)

Designed as a flowerhead, centering on an oval-shaped ruby weighing approximately 6.04 carats, within a cushion-shaped diamond petal surround, mounted in 18K white gold, ring size 6

With maker's mark for Etcetera 
Accompanied by report no. 59356 dated 3 May 2011 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the 6.04 carat ruby is of Burma (Myanmar) origin, with no indications of heating; also accompanied by an appendix stating that the ruby possesses extraordinary characteristics and merits special mention and appreciation. The ruby exhibits a well-saturated colour combined with an outstanding purity. The few inclusions found by microscopic inspection represent the hallmarks of the classical ruby mines in the Mogok valley in Burma (Myanmar). Its vivid and saturated red colour, poetically referred to "pigeon's blood", is due to a combination of well-balanced trace elements in the stone. A natural ruby from Burma of this quality represents a great rarity and the described gemstone with its combination of outstanding characteristics is a very exceptional treasure

Also accompanied by report no. 11050003 dated 5 May 2011 from the Gübelin Gemmological Laboratory stating that the 6.04 carat ruby is of Burma (Myanmar) origin, with no indications of heating and this colour variety may also be called "pigeon's blood red" in the trade; also accompanied by an appendix and note stating that Burma has long been recognized as the locality associated with the most desirable rubies in the world. Within Burma (now Myanmar), the most famed region is the Mogok Valley, or Mogok Stone Tract, in the Katha district, North East of Mandalay. These Mogok-type rubies typically possess a red body colour and red UV-fluorescence. In addition, they may contain tiny amounts of light-scattering rutile silk and a swirl-like growth pattern. It is this combination of features which gives these rubies their characteristic appearance. The natural ruby of 6.04 carats described in the above mentioned Gübelin Gem Lab Report possesses a richly saturated and homogenous colour, combined with a high degree of transparency. In addition, this gemstone has been spared of thermal treatment. Such a combination of characteristics is rare in natural Burmese rubies of this size

Six reports dated 8 November 2011 from the Gemological Institute of America stating that the six cushion-shaped diamonds weighing from 1.24 to 0.91 carats range from D to F colour, VVS2 to SI2 clarity

A Ruby and Diamond Ring (Price realised 245,000 USD) - Sold by Christie's 10th December 2015, New York (Source: www.christies.com)

Set with an oval-cut ruby, weighing approximately 4.76 carats, flanked on either side by a triangular-shaped diamond, ring size 5 1/2, mounted in platinum. Accompanied by report no. CS 71242 dated 29 October 2015 from the AGL American Gemological Laboratories stating that it is the opinion of the Laboratory that the origin of the ruby, weighing 4.76 carats, is Burma (Myanmar), with no heat enhancement

A Ruby and Diamond Ring (Price realised USD 127,564) - Sold by Christie's, 18th May 2016, Geneva. (Source: www.christies.com)

Set with an oval-cut ruby, weighing approximately 2.08 carats, between baguette-cut diamond shoulders, within a circular-cut diamond surround, ring size 6 ¾, mounted in platinum
Accompanied by report no. 80426 dated 4 June 2015 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute
stating that the origin of the ruby is Burma (Myanmar), with no indications of heating, and that the colour may also be called 'pigeon blood red'.

A Belle Epoque Style Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring (Available at www.revivaljewels.com)

Centering upon an oval-cut ruby of circa 2.57 carats within a surround of millegrain set circular-cut diamonds and baguette-cut rubies, mounted in platinum, size 54 (14).

With report no. 16050134 dated 24/05/2016 from the Gübelin Gemlab, stating that the ruby is from Burma (Myanmar) origin and that no indication of heating has been detected.

 

Sources:

Information Face Sheet on Mogok Ruby, Gubelin
https://www.gia.edu/ruby-quality-factor
http://www.lotusgemology.com/index.php/library/articles/286-pigeon-s-blood-a-pilgrimage-to-mogok-valley-of-rubies
www.christies.com