Phillips auction house is partnering with Vivarium by Vivienne Becker to host “Woman to Woman,” an exhibition and non-auction sale of jewelry designed by women. The event, part of the Phillips Flawless series of private sales, was curated to showcase unique pieces from both contemporary and iconic female jewelry designers.
“Private sales are to auctions what bespoke is to ready-to-wear,” says Paul Redmayne, Phillips head of private jewelry sales. “They give collectors the opportunity to select and control the material, the budget and the timing.”
Vivarium, owned by jewelry guru Vivienne Becker, has three main strands: it represents and nurtures a small stable of leading contemporary jewelers, each of whom has a distinct visual voice; it offers advice to clients on the sourcing and sale of antique jewelry and rare gemstones; and it serves as a venue for Vivienne Becker to share her knowledge of jewelry through private events, talks and curated exhibitions. The website’s content is designed to show off the cultural richness of jewels and gems.
Woman to Woman, Phillips’ first collaborative series with Vivarium, includes 42 exceptional pieces by 15 designers. Contemporary stars include Nadia Morgenthaler, Feng J, and Silvia Furmanovich, exhibited alongside vintage pieces by icons such as Suzanne Belperron, Paloma Picasso and Marina Bulgari. Prices are well under $100,000, with most under $50,000 and several priced at less than $10,000.
The lead design is “Chocolate Squares,” a bracelet designed by Suzanne Belperron in 1929. The links are made of black onyx carved to resemble chocolate squares that are set with diamonds in 18k gold (price on request).
Belperron, who worked for the Boivin jewelry house in Paris, was one of the most original and influential jewelry designers of the 20th century. She archived her works, but never signed them. Upon the death of jeweler René Boivin in 1917, his firm was taken over by his wife, Jeanne Boivin, who hired Belperron. There is a also vintage Boivin design in the sale, a pair of earrings made in 1945 of 18-karat yellow gold set with aquamarine, chrysoberyl, peridot and citrine. $72,000.
A slightly more modern pair of earrings in the sale were designed by Marina B in 1978. Marina Bulgari is the granddaughter of Bulgari founder Sotirio Bulgari and cousin to Gianni, Paolo and Nicola. She became a jeweler to the jet set in the ’70s and ’80s, and her lavish style came to define 1980s jewelry. She retired in 1996, and designer Guy Bedarida (formerly of John Hardy and Van Cleef & Arpels) took over as creative director of the company. The earrings, designed as diamond chandeliers, are priced at $40,800.
Many of the Vivarium designers represented in the sale are known for their work with unusual materials. Solange Azagury-Partridge’s “Hot Pink Diamond Scribbles” ring, for example, combines neon pink lacquer with 18-karat white gold and rhodium. The lacquer shank holds a 2 carat diamond, surrounded by a “scribble” of smaller diamonds. It is priced at $78,000. Geneva jewelry designer Nadia Morgenthaler likewise specializes in pieces that fuse high-tech processes with traditional hand craftsmanship. The earrings she brings to the Woman to Woman sale combine agate, kunzite, natural pearl and diamond set in platinum (price upon request).
Feng J also combines traditional techniques with modern materials and processes with her Calla Lily Ring. The shank is made of 18-karat gold but the gold is hand painted. It is set with a 2.97 carat Zambian emerald and surrounded by yellow sapphires, tsavorites and rose cut diamond (price on request).
Other works include a pair of miniature painted “banana leaf” earrings set with citrine, yellow sapphire and diamonds by Silvia Furmanovich ($6,960); and the “Billowing Cloud” brooch by Cora Sheibani, set with fluorescent diamonds in 18-karat white gold ($15,170).
“At Phillips, we tap into our global network to source anything, anywhere,” says Redmayne. “If you are looking to buy or sell something outside the auction calendar or indeed if you prefer to do so discreetly in a one-to-one setting rather than in a public auction, private sales provides the perfect platform to do so.”
The Woman to Woman sale and exhibition is on through May 31st, and is supplemented by lectures and discussions highlighting how women have influenced and shaped the modern world of jewels.