Animal and Plant Motif Jewelry Appearing at Public Auctions

  • The main reason for the moderate showing of Gübelin's piece is the relatively cheap material used in the brooch, viz. pink precious coral, Corallium rubrum. White diamonds and emeralds are used only in the eyes of the owl. The entire body and head of the owl are covered with navette-shaped pink coral feathers.
    It is important to note that the moderate price of US$4,048 realized by this relatively cheap brooch, was undoubtedly due the prestigious name of Gübelin being associated with it.

  • At every public auction at least a few "Animal and Plant Motif Lots" are featured and make a reasonable showing. In keeping with this expectation, at Christie's Jewels at South Kensington Sale held in London, South Kensington on May 14, 2009, five Animal and Plant Motif Lots were featured. These lots are 12, 13, 18, 63, 104.


    Lot 12 - A Ruby, Diamond and Onyx Novelty Brooch - by Gazdar. Pre-sale estimate US$1,068 - $1,525. Price realized - US$1,321.
    Lot 13 - A Citrine and Synthetic Gem Brooch and Matching Earclips - Pre-sale estimate US$458 - $610. Price realized - US$661.
    Lot 18 - Two Gem Novelty Brooches - Pre-sale estimate - US$763 - $1,068. Price realized - US$944.
    Lot 63 - A Diamond and Enamel Brooch - Pre-sale estimate - US$763 - $1,068. Price realized - US$793.
    Lot 104 - Two Antique Ivory and Pearl Pendants and a Gold and Seed Pearl Galleon Brooch - Pre-sale estimate US$915 - $1,220. Price realized US$7,173


    Lot 12 - The novelty brooch designed by Gazdar, the Mumbai-based jewelers is modelled as a stylized wading bird; the body made of yellow-gold collet-set with circular-cut rubies; the long leg and feet also made of yellow-gold, and the feet set with calibre-cut rubies; the head and beak of the bird also made of yellow-gold, the eyes set with a circular-cut black onyx, with a circular-cut white diamond mounted in the center.


    Lot 13 - The unknown designer has designed the brooch as a stylized vase of flowers, with a rectangular cut-cornered citrine vase; the stem and leaves of the foliage made of yellow-gold and set with an emerald and varicolored synthetic gem accents, representing fruits.
    The matching pair of earclips are also designed as stylized vases of flowers, with oval-shaped citrine vases, the yellow-gold foliage similarly set with a circular-cut emerald and red and white circular-cut synthetic gem accents.


    Lot 18 - Out of the two novelty brooches, one is modelled as two birds perched on a branch; the stem, feathers and head of the bird made of yellow-gold; the head with ruby accents; the body made of cabochon beads; and the stem/branch mounted with two circular-cut blue sapphires and circular-cut diamond representing buds.
    The second novelty brooch is modelled as two cats sitting close to one another; an oval-cut turquoise with its long axis parallel to the vertical, represents the body of each cat; another oval-cut turquoise with its long axis parallel to the horizontal, represents the head of each cat; the whiskers, eyes, covering of the head and the tails made of yellow-gold; and the eyes set with rubies.


    Lot 63 - The unknown designer of the diamond and enamel brooch, has modelled the brooch as a stylized fox, wearing a pave-set diamond coat; a transluscent green enamel cloak; blue and green enamel trousers; and brown enamel shoes. The head, hands and tail are made of yellow gold; the eyes are represented by white enamel with a diamond in the center.


    Lot 104 - Only the images of the two antique ivory and pearl pendants are given in the Christie's lot finder. The image of the 19th-century gold and seed pearl galleon brooch is not given.
    One pendant made of a carved ivory dog, wearing a gold collar with the enamelled legend "Eidelta" and two seed pearl accents, is suspended by a pearl and belcher-link chain, from a late 19th-century pearl single stone dress pin, the two ends of the chain connected to the pin by an emerald and enamel panel spacer.
    The secondant pendant made up of a smaller carved ivory horse, is suspended by a single pearl and belcher-link from an enamel bird design suspension which in turn is suspended from another pearl single stone dress pin. The two dress pins are joined by a link chain. The antique ivory and pearl pendants are probably of early 18th-century origin.
    The 19th-century gold and seed pearl galleon brooch, is modelled as a galleon with seed pearl sails and white enamel hull, suspending a pearl drop fringe.

  • The animal and plant motif jewelry lots highlighted by gemlite are indeed exceptional, with unique design features, mostly created by unknown designers. However, three of the lots achieved only a price of less than a thousand US dollars, and one lot slightly above a thousand US dollars (USD1,321). One lot however - Lot 104, Two Antique Ivory and Pearl Pendants and a Gold and Seed Pearl Galleon Brooch - registered a relatively high price of US$7,173. What might have been the cause for the exceptional showing of this antique jewelry lot ?

  • The answer to your question Joan seems to be inherent in the wording of your question. The main reason for the exceptional showing of this lot appears to be its antique origin dating back to the early 18th-century. The use of ivory and natural pearls in the brooch, materials to which a premium value is attached is another reason for the exceptional performance of the lot, realizing over USD 7,000 when compared to the other four brooches which registered an average price of around USD 1,000.

  • Apart from Lot 38, titled A Pair of Gem Set Lion Brooches, by Van Cleef & Arpels that appeared at Christie's "Jewels : The London Sale" held on June 10, 2009 and highlighted by gemlite on August 26, 2014, seven other "Animal and Plant Motif Jewelry" lots featured at the same auction. These Lots are :- 8, 33, 51, 62, 79, 119 and 165.


    Lot 8 - A Diamond Bird Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels; Estimate - US$4,848 - $6,464; Price realized - US$16,350.
    Lot 33 - A Diamond and Ruby Elephant Brooch - Estimate - US$9,696 - $12,928; Price realized - US$12,263.
    Lot 51 - A Diamond-Set KIngfisher Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels. - Estimate - US$2,909 - $4,040; Price-realized - US$9,810.
    Lot 62- A Turquoise, Ruby and Diamond Bird Brooch by Cartier - Estimate - US$2,424 - $3,232; Price realized - US$8,584.
    Lot 79 - A Diamond and Gem-Set Elephant Brooch by Charlton - Estimate - US$8,080 - $12,928; Price realized -US$26,569.
    Lot 119 - An Antique Diamond Dragonfly Brooch - Estimate - US$19,392 - $24,240. Price realized - US$24,525.
    Lot 165 - A Pair of Art Deco Diamond Bird Brooches - Estimate - US$8,080 - $12,928 - Price realized - US$13,898.

  • A short description of the above brooches are given below :-


    Lot 8 - The Diamond Bird Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels is modelled as a pavé-set diamond bird, mounted on platinum; the eye collett-set on yellow-gold with a cabochon emerald; the beak and claws of the bird and the branch on which it is perched also made of yellow gold. Signed Van Cleef & Arpels.


    Lot 33 - The Diamond Elephant Brooch designed around 1930 by an unknown designer, is pavé-set throughout with rows of circular-cut diamonds, except for the eye set with a circular-cut ruby. Total weight of the diamonds not known as it is not possible to dismount the diamonds from the setting.


    Lot 51 - Modelled as two bird brooches of different sizes, the larger bird brooch 8.5cm in height and the smaller one 4.0 cm high. The larger bird perched on a branch made of yellow-gold, is pavé-set with brilliant-cut diamonds on the beak and neck. The body is covered with textured gold feathers and the eye is collett-set with a navette-shaped ruby.
    The smaller bird brooch also perched on a yellow-gold branch is covered with textured gold feathers. Only the head of the bird is pavé-set with diamonds and the eyes are collett-set with navette-shaped rubies. The larger brooch is signed as Van Cleef & Arpels.


    Lot 62 - The Cartier Turquoise, Ruby and Diamond Bird Brooch designed by Cartier London around 1960, is modelled as a kingfisher with cabochon turquoise body, with textured yellow-gold feathers, perched on a branch also made of yellow-gold. The eye is collett-set with a triangular-shaped ruby and the feathers on the head are set with white diamonds. The piece is signed Cartier London.


    Lot 79 - The Diamond and Gem-Set Elephant Brooch by Charlton designed in the 1950s, is pavé-set all over with circular-cut diamonds. The saddle is set with calibre-cut rectangular-shaped rubies, with an oval-cut blue sapphire weighing 4.32 carats set at the center. The eye is set with navette-shaped black onyx. The brooch is signed as Charlton.


    Lot 119 - The Antique Diamond Dragonfly Brooch designed around 1900 by an unknown French designer is undoubtedly a masterpiece of the Art Nouveau period, during which the use of plant and animal motif jewelry designs reached a climax. The head and body of the dragonfly is set with a series of graduated old and rose-cut diamonds. The extended wings are pavé-set with diamonds of various shapes and sizes, mounted in platinum and gold.


    Lot 165 - A Pair of Art Deco Diamond Bird Brooches was designed by an unknown designer in the 1930s. The brooches are designed as two pavé-set diamond exotic birds perched on a baguette-cut diamond branch with curled tail feathers and coloured diamond eye detail, one seated contentedly, and the other preparing for flight.

  • Thanks AnitaP for your post. Some significant facts emerge from your post. The 7 lots highlighted by you appeared at the same auctions and hence are suitable for a comparative analysis. An analysis of the prices achieved clearly reveal the following :-


    1) Signed pieces from reputed designers and jewelry houses performed exceptionally well at the auctions registering prices several folds above the upper estimate.
    Lot 8 designed by Van Cleef & Arpels sold for US$16,350 which was 3.4 times the lower estimate and 2.5 times the upper estimate.
    Lot 51, also designed by Van Cleef & Arpels sold for US$9,810, which was 3.4 times the lower estimate and 2.4 times the upper estimate.
    Lot 62, designed by Cartier sold for US$8,584, which was 3.5 times the lower estimate and 2.7 times the upper estimate.
    Lot 79 designed by Charlton sold for US$26,569, which was 3.3 times the lower estimate and 2.0 times the upper estimate.


    2) Antique pieces were not only assigned a higher pre-sale estimate but also registered a price either within this estimate or slightly higher than the upper estimate.
    Lot 33, designed around year 1930 during the Art Deco period, was not only assigned a higher estimate of US$9,696 - $12,928 but also registered a price within this estimate of US$12,263.
    Lot 119, an Art Nouveau dragonfly brooch was also assigned a higher estimate of US$19,392 - $24,240 and registered a price slightly higher than the upper estimate of US$24,525.
    Lot 165, a pair of Art Deco bird brooches was assigned a pre-sale estimate of US$8,080 - $12,928 and registered a price slightly higher than the upper estimate of US$13,898.


    3) Lots set predominantly with diamonds, lots 33, 119 and 165 were assigned a higher estimate as expected and also sold within the estimate or slightly above the upper estimate.


    4) The most significant escalation in price was seen in Lot 79, which sold for the highest price of US$26,569, a signed piece predominantly made up of diamonds and assigned a higher estimate of US$8,080 - $12,928. In this case it appears that factors 1 and 3 above had a bearing on the escalation of the estimated price, viz. the fact that the piece is a signed jewel by Charlton and the fact that the piece is predominantly set with diamonds.

  • Three animal motif lots appeared at Christie's Jewels : The Hong Kong Sale held on May 26, 2009. These lots are Lot 1505, Lot 1509, and Lot 1670.
    Lot 1505 was a signed piece by Van Cleef & Arpels and was characterized as a Multigem Clip Brooch. In fact the brooch was designed as a humming bird with various colored gemstones and diamonds mounted on different parts of its body, such as the wings, tail, body, neck and head. The wings were set with an upper row of marquise-cut, cabochon turquoise and a lower row of marquise-cut, cabochon sapphires. Likewise, the tail was set with an upper row of marquise-cut cabochon sapphires, a middle row of marquise-cut, cabochon turquoise, and a lower row of circular-cut white diamonds set in marquise-shaped motifs. The body is set with circular-cut rubies and the neck with brilliant-cut white diamonds. The head is set with circular-cut sapphires, the eye collet-set with a marquise-cut ruby and the beak made of yellow gold. The brooch designed around 1960 was made of platinum and yellow gold. Being a signed jewel by a reputed jewelry house the lot was assigned a higher pre-sale estimate of US $23,330 - $36,292 and sold within this estimate for US$32,404.


    Lot 1509 was another signed piece by Van Cleef & Arpels designed around the same period as lot 1505. The lot was titled A Chalcedony, Ruby and Diamond Clip Brooch and was designed as a textured 18k gold squirrel, with its body made up of a large green, oval-shaped, cabochon-cut, chrysoprase chalcedony. The eye of the squirrel is collet-set with a circular-cut ruby, further highlighted by five brilliant-cut diamonds. The lot was given a pre-sale estimate of US$3,111 - $4,536 and sold exactly at the upper estimated value of US$4,536.


    Lot 1670 titled A Colored Diamond Pendant Necklace was another unique piece, with a yellow-gold chain necklace suspending a teddy bear pendant made up of colored diamonds only. The head of the teddy bear is set with heart-shaped, fancy brownish-pink diamond weighing 1.46 carats; the body set with cushion-shaped, fancy brown-pink diamond weighing 0.84 carats; and the articulated arms and legs set with pear-shaped pink diamonds, mounted in 18k yellow and rose gold. The lot was accompanied by GIA reports certifying the 4Cs of the diamonds with a total weight of 3.69 carats. The lot sold for US$35,644 above the estimated range of US$20,738 - 32,403.




  • The four factors highlighted above for the Christie's "Jewels : The London Sale," held on June 10, 2009, that had a bearing on the prices achieved, also applies equally well for the lots highlighted by Peter that appeared at Christie's Jewels : The Hong Kong Sale held on May 26, 2009.


    Factor 1 - Signed pieces from reputed designers and jewelry houses - had a bearing on the price achieved by Lot 1505, a signed piece by Van Cleef & Arpels, assigned a higher pre-sale estimate of US $23,330 - $36,292 and selling within this estimate for US$32,404.


    Factor 3 - Lots set predominantly with diamonds - had a bearing on the price achieved by Lot 1670, the teddy bear pendant, set entirely with colored diamonds. The lot sold for US$35,644 above the estimated range of US$20,738 - 32,403.


    However, Lot 1509 - A Chalcedony, Ruby and Diamond Clip Brooch - even though a signed piece by Van Cleef & Arpels, was assigned a relatively low estimate of US$3,111 - $4,536 and was sold at the upper estimated value of US$4,536. The probable reasons for the lower estimate and the relatively low price achieved despite being a signed jewel by a reputed jewelry house are :-


    1) The piece being made mainly of textured 18k gold.
    2) The limited quantities of colored gemstones used on the piece, the main colored gemstone being a relatively cheap oval-shaped green chalcedony known as chrysoprase.
    3) The five brilliant-cut diamonds surrounding the eye are the most expensive gemstones used on the piece.

  • At least eight plant and animal motif jewelry lots appeared at Christie's Jewels : The Geneva Sale held on May 13, 2009. These lots are 4, 8, 24, 25, 107, 114, 117, 120.
    Lot 4 - A Turquoise, Diamond and Gold Tortoise Brooch, by Cartier. Price achieved - US$5,118. Estimated range - US$5,432 - $8,147.
    Lot 8- An Emerald and Diamond Flower Bracelet - Price achieved - US$18,198. Pre-sale estimate - US$13,579 - $18,106.
    Lot 24 - An Agate Cat Figure, by Faberge - Price realized - US$34,121. Pre-sale estimate - US$4,526 - $6,337.
    Lot 25 - A Nephrite, Enamel and Gold Parasol Handle - Price realized - US$3,640. Pre-sale estimate - US$2,263 - $3,621.
    Lot 107 - An Ebony, Sapphire And Diamond "Blackamoor" Brooch, by Codagnato - Price realized - US$18,198. Presale estimate -US$9,053 - $13,579.
    Lot 114 - A Pair of Exquisite Ruby and Diamond Ear Clips, by Van Cleef & Arpels - Price achieved - US$65,968. Pre-sale estimate - US$22,632 - $27,158.
    Lot 117 - An Elegant Mystery Set Sapphire And Diamond "Deux Feuilles" Brooch, by Van Cleef & Arpels. Price realized - US$111,918. Pre-sale estimate - US$45,264 - $72,422.
    Lot 120 - A Charming Mystery Set Ruby And Diamond Pavot Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels - Price achieved - US$133,756. Estimated range - US$81,475 - $108,633.

  • Thanks shah for taking all the trouble to fish out more interesting plant and animal motif jewelry from Christie's Geneva May 2009 auctions. The images you uploaded are fantastic and speak for the quality of the pieces highlighted !

  • As in the Christie's "Jewels : The London Sale" held on June 10, 2009 highlighted previously by AnitaP, signed pieces by reputed jewelry designers and jewelry houses, had also performed extremely well at the May 13, 2009 Christie's Jewels : The Geneva Sale, registering prices much above the upper estimate. This was clearly evident in the three lots 114, 117 and 120 highlighted by shah, all exceptional pieces designed by reputed jewelry house, Van Cleef & Arpels.


    Lot 114, sold for US$65,968 which was 2.9 times the lower estimate of US$22,632 and 2.4 times the upper estimate of US$27,158. Lot 117 sold for US$111,918 which was 2.5 times the lower estimate of US$45,264 and 1.5 times the upper estimate of US$72,422. Lot 120 sold for US$133,756 which was 1.6 times the lower estimate of US$81,475 and 1.2 times the upper estimate of US$108,633. Apart from the unique design features that contributed to the escalation of price realized, the other contributory factor appears to be the use of diamonds and expensive colored gemstones like rubies and sapphires in the settings.


    The other signed pieces that performed well at these auctions, are Lot 24 and Lot 107. Lot 24 was An Agate Cat Figure - by Faberge and Lot 107 - An Ebony, Sapphire And Diamond "Blackamoor" Brooch, by Codagnato. Antique pieces by Faberge always fetch premium prices at public auctions and Lot 24 was not an exception. The lot sold for US$34,121 which was 7.5 times the lower estimate of US$4,526 and 5.4 times the upper estimate of US$6,337. Hence in terms of escalation of estimated price Faberge's piece had out performed all other seven animal and plant motif lots at this auction.


    Lot 107 - An Ebony, Sapphire and Diamond "Blackamoor" Brooch by Codagnato sold for US$18,198 which was twice the lower estimate of US$9,053 and 1.3 times the upper estimate of US$13,579. The brooch was designed by Attilio Codagnato, a world renowned jewelry artisan from Venice, Italy, the current owner and 4th-generation heir of Casa Codagnato founded in 1866, by Attilio's great-grandfather, Simeone Codognato. Attilio's work continues with the family tradition of exquisite jewelry making using the finest materials. The prized Codognato blackamoor designs are inspired by the paintings of 15th century Venetian artist Vittore Carpaccio and 18th century painter Pietro Longhi.


    Codognato "Blackamoor" brooches are as popular and highly collectible as Nardi's blackamoor brooches, first designed and popularized by Nardi, the renowned Venetian jewelry designer based on the famous Venetian Icon, the Moretto depicting the head and shoulders of a turbaned Moor of Venice, with its gem-encrusted turban and tunic. Nardi's blackamoors became very popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

  • Lot 8 - An Emerald and Diamond Flower Bracelet - though not a signed piece, registered a reasonable impact at the auctions, assigned a moderately high pre-sale estimate of US$13,579 - $18,106 and selling slightly above the upper estimate for US$18,198. What are the possible reasons for its moderate showing despite the piece being unsigned ?

  • Factor 3 above - Lots set predominantly with diamonds - appears to be the main reason why the lot was assigned a higher estimate and as expected also sold slightly above the upper estimate, even though the piece was not a signed jewel. Besides this, the use of emerald-cut emeralds as the centerpiece of each flower and the design features of the flower bracelet, might also have had an impact on the final price achieved by Lot 8.

  • One of the Christie's auctions in which at least eleven Animal and Plant Motif Jewelry featured was the Christie's "New York Jewels" sale, held on June 11, 2009. It took quite some time for me to fish out these pieces of jewelry. An interesting observation about these lots, is that out of the 11 lots, seven lots were creations by Jean Schlumberger, Chief Jewelry Designer of Tiffany & Co.
    The 11 Animal and Plant Motif Jewelry lots are :- 10, 11, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 84, 114, 137 and 178.
    The 7 Lots by Jean Schlumberger are 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 137 and 178.


    Details of these lots are as follows :-


    Lot 10 - A CULTURED PEARL, DIAMOND AND GOLD OWL BROOCH, BY RUSER - Pre-sale estimate of US$2,000 - $3,000. Price realized - US$3,250.


    Lot 11 - A DIAMOND AND GOLD LION BROOCH, BY VAN CLEEF & ARPELS - Pre-sale estimate - US$3,000 - $5,000. Price realized - US$6,000.


    Lot 76 - A LAPIS LAZULI, COLORED DIAMOND AND GOLD "BIRD ON A ROCK" PENDANT NECKLACE, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. - Pre-ale estimate - US$7,000 - $10,000. Price realized - US$16,250.


    Lot 77 - A DIAMOND, RUBY AND GOLD "GAZELLE" BROOCH, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. - Pre-sale estimate US$6,000 - $8,000. Price realized - US$20,000.


    Lot 78 - A MULTI-GEM, ENAMEL AND GOLD ELEPHANT BROOCH, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. Pre-sale estimate US$25,000 - $35,000. Price realized - $43,750.


    Lot 80 - A MULTI-COLORED SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND BUTTERFLY BRACELET, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. Pre-sale estimate US$$15,000 - $20,000. Price realized - $37,500.


    Lot 82 - A GOLD, MULTI-GEM AND DIAMOND CAMEL BROOCH, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. Pre-sale estimate - US$4,000 - $6,000. Price realized - US$13,750


    Lot 84 - AN ANTIQUE EMERALD, DIAMOND AND GOLD SERPENT NECKLACE - Pre-sale estimate - US$15,000 - $20,000. Price realized - US$72,100


    Lot 114 - A GOLD AND EMERALD LION PENDANT NECKLACE - Pre-sale estimate - US$5,000 - $7,000. Price realized - US$8,125.


    Lot 137 - AN IVORY, TOURMALINE AND GOLD FLOWER BROOCH, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER - Pre-sale estimate US$$15,000 - $20,000. Price realized - US$22,500.


    Lot 178 - AN ENAMEL AND MULTI-GEM PARROT BROOCH, BY JEAN SCHLUMBERGER, TIFFANY & CO. Pre-sale estimate US$$5,000 - $7,000. Price realized - US$18,125.