At its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on Dec. 9, Sotheby’s will offer a smattering of important fancy colored diamonds and signed pieces from the usual suspects: Cartier, Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels. Impressive, coveted and valuable, these jewels also verge, in the high-stakes auction world, on run-of-the-mill.
A ruby-and-diamond bib necklace in the sale, however, is anything but typical. A masterpiece of 1940s design by the celebrated 20th-century French jeweler Suzanne Belperron, the piece, named the “Plastron” necklace, is composed of bezel-set and ovoid-shaped ruby cabochons sprinkled with old-cut diamonds. It is estimated at $500,000 to $750,000.
The necklace’s historic provenance is part of its appeal. Featured in the December 1947 issue of French Vogue, the piece caught the eye of the industrialist Henri Piggozi, director of the French automaker Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile (SIMCA), who bought it for his wife, Loisette. The necklace remained in the family for years, until it was acquired by the current owner. A testament to its importance: It appeared on the front cover of the Suzanne Belperron monograph by Sylvie Raulet and Olivier Baroin.
“I had to choose an iconic piece that reflected the oeuvre of its creator in all her splendor,” Baroin wrote in a catalog note accompanying the lot. “This necklace was that piece.”
For all its grandeur, the Belperron is not the sale’s star lot. That honor belongs to a ring set with a 5.03-ct. fancy vivid pink diamond flanked by two triangular fancy intense blue diamonds, estimated at $9 million to $12 million.
Collectors will also want to keep an eye out for pieces from the private collections of Cecile Zilkha and Marylou Whitney. An extraordinary 1930s diamond rivière by Bulgari owned by the former and a rare necklace composed of 32 natural pearls from the latter’s impressive collection are each expected to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000.