Historic Jewels Spanning Centuries Sparkled At 2023 TEFAF Maastricht
Each year, among its 270 exhibitors, TEFAF Maastricht includes a small but influential group of jewelry artists, dealers and galleries. The pieces on display always attract crowds who admire these creations for their artistic beauty, fine craftsmanship and in some cases their historical provenance.
The recently concluded 2023 fair hosted nearly the same number of exhibitors that appeared in the 2019 fair, the last year before the Covid lockdown. It is also the first time the fair returned to its traditional March schedule since the global outbreak. The 11-day fair attracted more than 50,000, far short of the 70,000 buyers in pre-covid 2019, but that is to be expected as the world continues to return to normalcy following the pandemic.
Other than increased security measures due to a robbery during the prior year, the first two preview days on March 9 and 10 showed this return to normalcy for the venerable and celebrated art, antique and design fair.
A dozen or so dealers who either specialize in antique and period jewels or include them in their offerings, joined the handful of contemporary high jewelry artists each year. The historic pieces span hundreds of years and all artistic periods. The dealers are knowledgeable and well respected in their fields of expertise.
For example, there is no greater authority in the niche of jewels created by modern artists than Didier and Martine Haspeslagh, the founders of Didier in London. This year, the couple dedicated their exhibition space to Italian artists and the rise of Padua School, which specialized in goldsmith techniques in jewelry artistry. Perhaps the prize piece in the collection was an 18k gold “brutalist” cuff made by Nino Franchina, an Italian artist of note from Sicily. It was created with an acetylene torch, creating fissures of holes and bumps throughout the jagged piece. It was featured on the cover of Vogue in 1963. The couple recreated the image with model Catherine Hudson Baker and presented it at the show (top photo).
Simon Teakle, the Greenwich, Conn., gallery that specializes in fine jewelry and objects, featured an elaborate, colorful and realistic 18k gold and enamel “Cattleya” orchid brooch, circa 1890, by 19th and 20th century French jewelers, Le Turcq et Duval. The matte and translucent enamel petals are highlighted by pave set diamond stamen and stalk.
The jeweler also featured a number of emerald pieces. Among them, the Rosse emerald and diamond necklace. The antique necklace is designed as a series of 16 graduated rectangular cut Colombian emeralds and old mine cut diamond circular clusters with rectangular cut Colombian emerald and pear-shaped diamond drops, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1870. It was worn by the countess of Rosse at the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and at a ball hosted by the latter at Buckingham Palace in 1960.
Another emerald piece of note was the Bulgari Emerald and Diamond Trombino Ring, circa 1960, featuring a 10.94-carat Colombian emerald. It was originally designed in 1932 by Giorgio Bulgari as an engagement ring for his wife. The “Trombino,” meaning little trumpet, is one of Bulgari’s most recognized designs with a rectangular cut emerald within a pave set and baguette cut diamond platinum mount.
The celebrated London jeweler, Wartski, had a number of special pieces including a gold butterfly, circa 1850, by Jules-Jean-François Fossin (1808-1869), a distinguished jeweler who translated subjects drawn from the natural world. The colorful insect was set with gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and a pearl. Wartski says that given the dating and provenance of the jewel, it is likely to have been presented to Caroline Fraser, the consort of Prince Lucien Murat and nephew of Napoleon I.
Natural pearls are among the scarcest gems of all. Very rare prior to the creation of cultured pearls and almost non-existent today, particularly in large sizes. These gems, a true creation of nature, were limited to royalty, nobility and wealthy of the past centuries. Wartsiki presented an impressive three-strand necklace of these pearls.
Marjan Sterk featured a hard to miss 34-inch 18k yellow gold necklace by Francesco Pavan, 2015, made of 201 square links (each with a diameter 26.5 mm.) connected by four wires.
Among its offerings, Epoque Fine Jewels, presented an Art Nouveau dragonfly brooch by Frédéric Boucheron, the founder of the French high jewelry house that continues to bear his name, circa 1900. It is created with diamond, sapphire and chrysoberyl mounted in platinum and gold.
Among its offerings of manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Les Enluminures also presented a number of historic jewels, including a delicate, Renaissance-style necklace made of gold, diamond, enamel and chrysoberyl, circa 1895, by Carlo and Arthur Giuliano.
A La Vieille Russie, the New York antiques and jewelry firm with a specialty in Russian objects, presented, among its offerings of art, objects and jewels, an impressive diamond and ruby butterfly brooch.
London dealer, S.J. Phillips, presented a big, bold, colorful ruby and diamond necklace by French jeweler, Mauboussin, 1930.
Within its expansive displays, Dutch antique jewelry firm, A. Aardewerk, featured an 18k gold, diamond and turquoise turtle clip brooch, circa 1950s by Van Cleef and Arpels.
Van Cleef & Arpels, presented its collection of heritage jewels, including a large sapphire and diamond Trefles (clovers) platinum necklace, 1960, featuring 17 pear-shaped sapphires and more than 52 carats of diamonds. The necklace transforms into two bracelets.