William Henry - Monarch Fable

My Favorite Things


Having been in the jewelry industry my entire career and in the auction world for more than 25 years, I have seen and handled a great deal of jewelry. The one thing I truly enjoy about the jewelry department at Heritage Auctions is the diversity of jewelry that comes through the saleroom. For me, the factors that remain consistent about favorite and memorable pieces are design, exceptional craftsmanship, and the use of quality gemstones and materials. Put these factors together and you have a great piece of jewelry.

Antique Egyptian Revival Enamel, Gold Necklace

One of my all-time favorite pieces was in our December 2016 auction: an Egyptian Revival Enamel and Gold Necklace. I have always loved Egyptian Revival jewelry and this piece dated from the late 19th century. The colors and fan-shaped palm frond motif are beautiful. And the way it’s constructed makes it move around the neck effortlessly. Plus, it was in exceptional condition. One of my clients pointed out there are few necklaces with this variety of color, making it exceptionally wearable and infinitely elegant. It realized $20,000.

Colombian Emerald, Diamond, Platinum Ring

In Heritage’s summer auction, we had a wonderful Emerald and Diamond Ring, where the combination of different-shaped stones and the three-dimensional quality of the ring exemplified the style of the late 1940s. These elements create a timelessly chic ring. It sold for $10,625 in June 2017.

Enamel, Gold, Amethyst, Carved Jade Earrings, David Webb

On the more modern side, we had a pair of Enamel, Gold, Amethyst and Carved Jade Earrings of orientalist design by David Webb. The color combination between the stones is perfectly balanced by the white enamel. And the detachable bottoms make them perfect for daytime or nighttime wear. The sold for $30,000 in December 2016.

Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Diamond, Platinum Bracelet, Tiffany& Co.

This “Cobblestone Bracelet” is a collection of collet set aquamarines, tourmalines and diamonds. The articulated bracelet looks as though the stones are scattered across the wrist in a random pattern when, in reality, it took a true artistic eye to understand shape, weight of color and balance to make something that looks effortless be so perfect. It realized $52,500 at our December 2016 auction.

Paraiba Tourmaline, Diamond, Platinum Ring, Tiffany & Co.

The last piece from the Tiffany collection that I absolutely loved was a 5.39-carat Paraiba Tourmaline ring. The color of the stone – an intense greenish-blue – takes your breath away. I knew this was probably one of 10 stones in existence of this quality, and the market agreed when a bidder paid a near world-record $50,000 per carat – for a total of $250,000. It’s a good thing I can’t afford everything I fall in love with, but it’s nice to be the guardian of them for a while until they find new homes and until the next great piece shows up for auction.

Peter Shemonsky

PETER SHEMONSKY works out of Heritage Auctions’ San Francisco office. He can be reached at PeterS@HA.com.

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