Jewelry: Star Power

At the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels

Modernes in Paris, artisans competed for awards that would proclaim their

creations the finest examples of their respective crafts. The fair’s most

prestigious honor, the Grand Prix award, went to Paris jewelry house Boucheron

for an exhibit that included a wide bracelet composed of five black enamel

plaques set with diamonds and cabochon rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.

Boucheron modeled the bracelet’s irregular geometric patterns on the fabric

designs of artist Paul Iribe; the smooth, domed, colored gems are set within

diamond pavé borders on a ground of diagonally positioned black enamel rods.

Boucheron crafted this piece with osmium, a dense blue-white element that

produces an extremely hard metal when alloyed with platinum.

“I have always

favored jewelry that goes beyond traditional forms and incorporates novel uses

of different materials,” says New York jewelry dealer Lee Siegelson, who

selected the $1.135 million bracelet (as well as a 1922 Egyptian Revival sautoir

by Cartier) to exemplify the height of Art Deco jewelry design in his book The

Collector, which showcases 18 museum-quality pieces collectively valued at more

than $17.5 million. The assemblage spans from a mid-19th-century rivière

necklace with a 32.37-carat diamond pendant to a 1938 ruby and amethyst starfish

brooch designed by Juliette Moutard for the house of Boivin to a contemporary

Siegelson ring appointed with an antique 2.01-carat fancy deep blue oval

cushion-cut diamond. (The ring is valued at $1.726 million.) The book also

includes an Art Nouveau handbag by René Lalique and a circa-1931 mystery clock

from American jewelry house Black, Starr & Frost Gorham. This compendium of

pieces, all available for purchase through Neiman Marcus, is intended to present

jewelry as an art form. Siegelson assembled the collection and published the

book to mark the 100th anniversary this October of Neiman Marcus, through which

his namesake company has sold its jewelry for more than 15 years.


who is 37, acquired the Boucheron bracelet, which he describes as a “Rembrandt

example of Deco,” two years ago. He points out that each of the bracelet’s five

arched sections has a different composition, indicating that Boucheron was not

concerned with how long it took to manufacture the piece or how difficult it

would be to reproduce it. “The only way for a house to win awards at these fairs

was to allow the artist complete freedom from marketing and manufacturing

limitations to solely focus on the creation itself,” Siegelson says, noting that

modern designs rarely display comparable levels of quality and originality. “We

have other Deco pieces from other houses, but this really was a tour de force in

Deco jewelry, and it was represented as such at the time,” he adds.

“Lee has

an extraordinary eye, and we trust him completely,” says Karen Katz, CEO of

Neiman Marcus, which will give The Collector to a few thousand of its premier

clients. The pieces will be exhibited this fall at the Dallas flagship and then

travel to selected Neiman Marcus stores. Siegelson will accompany the collection

and be available to discuss the pieces’ provenances with prospective buyers.

“This collection is the culmination of the very unique pieces offered by Neiman

Marcus over the past 100 years, and it represents the finest jewelry that the

world has to offer,” says Katz. “Lee knows the history and origins of every

piece, each of which has a story to tell.”

Siegelson, available at Neiman Marcus, 800.944.9888,

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