A precious asset

Parisian late Art Deco clip brooch set with ruby and diamonds, 1940s

With its abstractly draped form, warmly shimmering yellow gold, and diamond and ruby trim, this brooch speaks the formal language of the first half of the 1940s. So it may at first seem surprising that its hallmarks identify it as a Parisian piece of the period: After all, Paris was under German occupation at the time, and not only was there a general shortage of money due to the war, but the supply of precious stones mined in distant lands was extremely irregular. Unlike in most European jewellery centres, the great Parisian jewellers had not ceased work during that period. However, because of the scarcity of materials, they had to make do on this point: Thus, whoever commissioned a gold piece had to contribute the gold himself and cede a fifth of it to the state. The stones, in turn, were either made from old pieces or came from stocks purchased before the war. This may explain why two of the six diamonds are cut differently than the other four, which does not affect the aesthetics of the brooch when examined with the naked eye. In its materiality, this brooch is a piece of exquisite preciousness. Its solid gold body feels heavy in the hand, even the back clip pins are made of gold, and it is set with eleven rubies in addition to the diamonds, which shine like a cluster of red berries. The fact that such a piece was created precisely at that time, however, has to do precisely with this preciousness; for the brooch is not only an extremely decorative piece of jewellery, but moreover an investment of value which, unlike paper money, has retained and continues to retain great permanence even in turbulent times. As a valuable investment, the brooch survived the turmoil of war in very good condition. Even today, the clip on the back with two pins ensures that the precious item cannot come loose from the coat, blazer or sweater. On jewellery production in Paris during the first half of the 1940s, see David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, Woodbridge 2010, p. 356. Numerous comparative pieces can be found in ibid, p. 368ff.

One of the most beautiful and typical pieces of Art Deco jewellery is the clip. Extravagant, precious examples, mostly set with diamonds, were produced by Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef and Arpels in Paris from the late 1920s onwards and were soon followed by goldsmiths all over the world. The special thing about this new type of brooch was that it could no longer be worn only on the lapel, but everywhere on the dress, on the belt, on the bag and even in the hair. Often as a pair, but also individually, surprising accents could be set, which had not been possible before. At the time of their introduction, the shape of the clips was initially flat, the surfaces richly set with diamonds. In the course of the 1930s, more voluminous, geometric shapes came into fashion. Yellow gold also replaced the previously favoured white gold, in line with the general Art Deco trend. A final innovation before the upheaval of the Great War was the redesign of the back holder towards the end of the 1930s. Whereas previously there had been a single large plate with a spring mechanism, now two interconnected pins were used. On the history of the clip, see David Bennett/Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, Woodbridge 2010, pp. 322-325, with numerous illustrations.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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