Peek Inside One of the Finest Private Jewelry Collections to Ever Come to Auction

Featuring more than 250 pieces from the world’s most renowned jewelry houses, the upcoming auction includes the most extensive array of René Boivin jewels ever presented.

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Sotheby’s upcoming auction, “Iconic Jewels: Her Sense of Style,” presents a narrative so rich it could only be the life’s work of a passionate connoisseur. This May, a staggering collection of over 250 pieces, meticulously curated over five decades by a dedicated European female collector, will be unveiled to the public, offering a unique window into the evolution and artistry of twentieth-century jewelry design.

Valued between $5.4M – $8.3M, this extraordinary compilation is set to be dispersed across two distinct sales. The “Magnificent Jewels” sale, taking place on May 14 during Sotheby’s Luxury Sales in Geneva, will feature 46 of the most breathtaking items from the collection. Simultaneously, an expansive online sale titled “Iconic Jewels: Her Sense of Style” will offer over 200 additional pieces from May 2 until bidding closes on May 16. This dual approach highlights the breadth and depth of the collection and makes it accessible to a wider audience of jewelry aficionados and collectors worldwide.

Marie-Cécile Cisamolo, Jewellery Specialist at Sotheby’s Geneva, remarks, “When you come across a jewelry collection as consistently stunning and substantial as “Iconic Jewels: Her Sense of Style,” it’s a heart-stopping moment – the kind you know you’ll never forget. This collection, with its many dazzling signed jewels from the most beloved and sought-after design periods in jewelry history, is truly one of a kind and one of the most important private jewelry collections I’ve ever seen. It is an incredibly powerful and sophisticated love letter to jewelry from an enlightened private collector, which I know will inspire other collectors and connoisseurs all around the world.”

Cartier, ‘Leopard’ bangle

Cartier, Devant-de-corsage

Bulgari, A ‘Serpenti’ bracelet-watch, aka ‘Theodorus’

The collection is a veritable encyclopedia of twentieth-century jewelry design, encompassing iconic creations from the most revered houses such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Boucheron, Mauboussin, David Webb, and many more. Each piece, whether a daring Bulgari earring set adorned with Fancy Intense Yellow diamonds or a historic Cartier Panthère bangle, represents a pivotal moment in the history of jewelry, capturing the essence of the era in which it was conceived.

A particular highlight of the collection is its emphasis on the works of René Boivin, a house renowned for its imaginative designs and vibrant, colorful creations. This collector’s affinity for Boivin has resulted in the assembly of the world’s most extensive collection of the French jeweler’s works, marking this auction as a historic event in its own right. Among these, the unique natural diamond and emerald brooch, as well as the sapphire and natural diamond ‘Feuilles’ demi-parure, stand out as testaments to the house’s legendary craftsmanship and avant-garde aesthetic.

René Boivin, Diamond and emerald brooch

Mauboussin, Pendent-necklace

Cartier, ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet

Other work leading the parade of exceptional pieces is a pair of Bulgari earrings, each cradling a Fancy Intense Yellow diamond shy of 10 carats—a treasure once gracing the American socialite Baroness di Portanova’s collection. These dazzling jewels have an estimated value between $450,000 and $680,000. Accompanying them is the Bulgari Serpenti bracelet watch “Theodorus,” a piece so rare it’s accompanied by its original design sketch from 1968, hinting at a storied past and valued between $226,000 and $453,000. 

Several masterpieces by Cartier are equally captivating, including an iconic 1969 Panthère bangle, estimated to be worth $283,000 to $396,000. Not to be overlooked is the Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet, a kaleidoscope of color and craftsmanship considered a ‘holy grail’ piece for many fine jewelry collectors. Lastly, Van Cleef & Arpels offers a glimpse into the versatile elegance of the 1940s with its transformable Passe-Partout set, a marvel of design comprising a necklace, three brooches, and a pair of ear clips. 

Bulgari, Brooch and earring set

Van Cleef & Arpels, ‘Mystery set’ earrings

Yet, what sets “Iconic Jewels: Her Sense of Style” apart is not just the caliber of its pieces but the narrative thread that ties them together. The collector, whose discerning eye and unerring judgment are evident in every choice, has not merely assembled a collection but has woven together a tapestry of jewelry’s most pivotal moments. From Art Nouveau to Modernism, each piece reflects a chapter in the story of jewelry design, told with an appreciation for boldness, color, and unparalleled craftsmanship.

As we anticipate the unveiling of this remarkable collection, it’s clear that “Iconic Jewels: Her Sense of Style” is more than an auction; it’s a celebration of the art of jewelry, a tribute to the visionaries who have shaped its history, and a testament to the timeless beauty that transcends eras. For collectors and enthusiasts alike, this event is not just an opportunity to own a piece of jewelry history but to be part of a legacy that continues to inspire and enchant.