Category Archives: Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Bling: Brooch Hair Combs

Jewelry by any other fitting shines as sweet.

A woman can buy almost any brooch or pendant and pin it on a bun, hat, or headband. We don’t have to follow jewelers. We have to follow our imaginations and order fittings. For example, here is how you could attach a pendant to a black velvet headband:

This modern pendant is made of translucent icy jadeite with diamonds set in white gold. Sotheby’s estimates its value at $10,000. It depicts the Guan Yin, who is revered by East Asian Buddhists. In Sanskrit, she is known as the bodhisattva, or enlightened existence. She is associated with compassion and mercy and was named after Empress Shen Wuhua of the Chen Dynasty (557-589), whose Buddhist-nun name was Guan Yin.

For a night, I would substitute this pendant for the diamond star on the black velvet headband and be honored to wear it.

Here are some other items I would buy:

The yellow-sectioned bakelite ornament is sewn into the black straw hat. Whoever put this Cartier diamond-and-onyx, chain-link brooch on top has an eye. The pear-shaped diamond at the bottom of the brooch is 3.46 carats, D in color, and internally flawless. c. 1915. Price estimate: $190,000.

This 18K-gold leaf brooch / hair ornament is a modern, signed piece by Tsai An Ho. The lady bugs have tourmaline cabachons with moonstone and tsavorite-garnet eyes. Price estimate: $9000.

This Art Deco ornament was made by the House of Mauboussin in Paris, c. 1930. Price estimate: $33,000. The company was awarded the Grand Prix at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in the 1920’s for its dedication to the Art Deco movement. Mauboussin organized a diamond exhibition in 1931, and this piece probably comes from that. It can be separated into two side clips for the hair because the company made multiple fittings. Mixing small baguettes and round diamonds of different sizes, the jeweler created depth and perfect balance.

If we went to the opera in our Mauboussin, which purse would we bring? I would choose this one. Van Cleef & Arpels made it in 1923 out of seed pearls, and ornamented it with diamonds and large pear-shaped pearls. The interior is white leather. I must gush. This is the most beautiful purse I have ever seen. Price estimate: $300,000.


It’s very difficult to do scholarly research when your tongue is hanging out, and you are trying to breathe while thinking, “I want everything NOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!” However, these books have been added to our Resource Library for your torment, oh — information. :-)

Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels: Tiara made for Princess Fwazia Pahlavi of Iran, 1939

Van Cleef and Arpels

Sotheby’s: Hair Comb from Scottish Jewelers A & J Smith

The Scottish penchant for austerity is present in both their silversmithing and jewelery making. Alex and John Smith worked in Aberdeen from 1880 to 1932. As Art Nouveau produced ever more nuanced and philosophical pieces in France, A&J Jewelers made and marked this comb: pronounced green-enamel shapes set in a simple wired gold frame with mother-of-pearl accents. The tiara is hinged to a tortoiseshell comb. Sotheby’s will start the bidding on December 14, 2011, at 3,000 GBP. We’ll take note of how much it fetches.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Reading the Past

Scottish Jewelry by Diana Scarisbrick

Silver: Made in Scotland

Sotheby’s Video: 500-Carat Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara

The tiara sold on May 17, 2011, for 11,282,500.00 Swiss Francs, or in today’s currency markets, $14,511,254.51. David Bennett, Sotheby’s Chairman of European and Middle Eastern Jewellery, details the provenance in a video. The emeralds were mined in 16th-Century Columbia and polished in Maharaja style. Contrasted with pale yellow diamonds, they are breathtaking.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The Belle Epoque of French Jewellery, 1850-1910: Jewellery Making in Paris, 1850-1910

Prices are rising for African combs

On September 15, 2009, a comb from the Ivory Coast made from Hippopotamus bone sold for $1200 at Sotheby’s. It featured a bird on top of a woman’s head, a symbol of fertility.

Last Friday, May 13, another comb of the same design and material sold for $4062.

Sotheby’s also tried to sell this comb with an estimated price in the thousands, however, it did not sell.

The Creative Museum has a similar comb in perfect condition.