A Collector's Eye for Jewelry

Jewelry can be an emotional purchase, bought to mark life's most important milestones. It is also of subjective appeal - some buyers are drawn to earrings, some prefer to wear rings on every finger. The owner of the extensive jewelry collection in our Important Summer Auction, however, applied an art collector's eye to her jewelry, resulting in an assortment of uncommon quality and balanced variety.

The collector of these pieces clearly had a strong knowledge of what to look for in fine jewelry in general, and in gold work in particular. Leland Little Jewelry Director Nancy Blount says that "a fine, heavy gold piece is impeccably finished, with no rough edges, and astounding detail." Blount notes that the large selection of gold jewelry in this collection all exhibits those qualities, and the collector clearly had the eye to recognize them. The metal is nicely cast, the ends are well-finished, the gold is generally marked as 18 carat.
18KT Gold Knot Bracelet, David Webb

This bracelet by renowned American jeweler David Webb is one of the finest examples of gold work in the collection. The David Webb brand prides itself on the continuity of its craftsmanship - founded in 1948, the company has been family-run ever since, and some of their jewelers have been in their workshop for almost forty years. The collection also includes the work of a David Webb protegé, Houston jeweler Katy Briscoe.

18KT Gold, Opal, and Diamond Ring, Katy Briscoe

This Briscoe ring demonstrates the collector's proclivity for neo-classical pieces, which is carried out through the designs of several different jewelers in the collection. David Webb's gold work was inspired by antiquity, the art of the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Mayans, Celts, and more. David Webb gold is often textured with chasing, hammering or stippling to evoke the feel of those cultures. The items in the collection by jeweler Elizabeth Locke also reference the past. Locke's designs are inspired by her lifelong interest in the classics and history, and have an aesthetic similarity to the Briscoe and Webb pieces.
18KT Gold, Venetian Glass, Mother-of-Pearl, and Dyed Green Chalcedony Brooch / Pendant, Elizabeth Locke

Another notable designer represented in the collection is mid-century jeweler Olga Tritt, who is best known for the work she did for the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. Tritt created a remarkable natural pearl, diamond and platinum pendant for the Duchess that was most recently sold by fashion-designer Calvin Klein at auction for $505,000. The stylized gold and diamond feathered earrings in our auction are a beautiful example of the designer's work as well as the aesthetic of her era.
14KT Gold and Diamond Earrings, Olga Tritt

Apart from the pieces by a cast of notable designers, Blount notes even that the unsigned jewelry in this collection is of the highest quality, again reflecting the collector's knowledge of how to identify good jewels. But this not purely an academic collection. As Blount says, "there is a boldness to this jewelry." The collector had as strong an eye for style as she did for quality.

Content produced by the Leland Little Editorial Team