A Beautiful Sapphire by Van Cleef & Arpels

On 14 April 2021, by Claire Papon

As this necklace mounted by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1950s-1960s attests, Burmese sapphires are highly prized by great jewelers.

Van Cleef & Arpels. Jointed platinum necklace, the links alternating with 38 small round sapphires, supporting a motif set with antique-cut diamonds holding a cushion-shaped sapphire (14.77 ct) surrounded by diamonds, l. 23 cm, weight 33.8 g (9.06 in, 1.19 oz).
Estimate: €100,000/150,000

The blue stone is remarkable not just for its weight but also its deep color, sparkle and lack of chemical treatment. The sapphire, a natural gem of the corundum mineral variety, often needs heating to lighten a stone that is too dark or darken one that is too light in order to attenuate inclusions or obtain a single color. Ours needed no such artifice. It was set with diamonds by the company formed in 1906 when Estelle Arpels and Alfred van Cleef got married. In Hebrew, sappir means "the most beautiful thing". The most famous piece of sapphire jewelry is surely Charlemagne’s good luck charm, a gold pendant shaped like a pilgrim’s ampulla set with precious stones and pearls. Found in Ceylon and weighing over 190 carats, it was the largest known sapphire until the 17th century. Although smaller and less famous, our gem is likely to spark a six-figure bidding war.

In addition, a jointed Art Deco ribbon bracelet with an openwork geometric motif, paved with pink and brilliant diamonds and four coral cabochons, is expected to fetch €15,000/20,000. Another, made of six four-toned gold plates, features a pearl-studded bas-relief of allegorical motifs on the theme of the arts. Jeweler and bronze dealer Alfred Daubrée (1817-1885) a native of Nancy and who owned a shop on rue Montmartre in Paris, made it c. 1870-1880. The second part of the sale featured miniatures, goldsmith’s work and charming objects, like a whimsical set of 12 Japanese melon knives from c. 1900 with vermeil blades and copper handles decorated in reliefs of plants, animals, dragons and demons (€200/300).

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