The Art We Wear - The Winter Quarterly Auction, December 2016

Of all the art that we consign at Leland Little, jewelry is the most personal. Throughout time, jewelry has celebrated events in our lives: an engagement, marriage, the birth of a child, graduation, and at times, mourning. Jewelry has been said to be the most artistic expression of our selves.

“The strength of the jewelry offered in The Winter Auction is in its variety,” Blount says. She has curated a collection that features the whimsical, the extravagant, the refined, the prestigious, and, of course, the classic.

Blount has a special fondness for Art Deco-era jewelry, perhaps one of the most enduring and popular designs of our times. Its powerful subtlety and harmonious geometric coherences are “controlled in the balance of the design,” she says, “perfectly suited to the light-dark and colorful contrast with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and onyx, generally set in platinum.” The J.E. Caldwell platinum, diamond, and obsidian bracelet offered in The Winter Auction is a fine example of this contrast.

Art Deco’s layered but clean stacks and zig-zagging lines, its far-reaching inventiveness reined in by a sense of elegant restraint, and its marriage of Asiatic elements to European jewelry traditions, are an important part of the joyous contrasts of the era—which, Blount notes, peaked in the twenties with a freewheeling and sportive postwar flourish: high-living, Jazz Age energy set off against machine-age orderliness. The barely-contained exuberance and unabashed stylishness of Deco jewelry captures this vivacious tension. Blount points to the double strand of Akoya pearls being offered in The Winter Auction, whose introduction in 1905 closely coincided with the advent of Deco. These Akoya pearls culminate with a platinum, diamond, pearl and jade clasp: the essence of Art Deco jewelry.

“We are delighted to offer an array of eye-grabbing jewelry in The Winter Auction,” Blount continues, “such as a Retro-era 13-karat aquamarine necklace from Brazil, and a whimsical 18-karat gold ring with bezel-set diamonds in black lava, from the legendary Lotus Arts de Vivre in Bangkok.”
If our relationship to jewelry has a special intimacy, so does our relationship to its origins: “The closer you can get to the designer, the better,” Blount says. She notes the complete Georg Jensen of Denmark suite offered in The Winter Auction. Complete suites are fairly rare; here is one in the “dove in wreath” motif, an iconic design.