The Classic Sale at Bukowskis Auction, Dec 2-5 Stockholm

 

The other day I was working away in the antique shop, when two ladies from the auction house Bukowskis came by.  Now, I can spot a Swedish accent from miles away and we were soon chatting away about the antique worlds in Sweden and London, which was such an unexpected treat!  The reason for their visit however, was an upcoming Bukowskis’ auction i December where – among many other glorious treasures – an extraordinary pair of pearl earrings will go on sale.  I of course took the chance to find out more about the sale and auction house:

Carl Larsson "I Montcourt" (in Monrcourt), Bukowskis Auction

A painting by our beloved Carl Larsson “I Montcourt” (in Montcourt).  You might remember the blog post A Nordic Style dream in London – chapter 1 where we learnt about the wonderful painter Carl Larsson?

Who are Bukowskis?

Bukowskis is the biggest auction house in the Nordics with a focus on fine art, design, crafts, oriental antiques and last but not least jewellery, where we are the market leading auction house by a wide margin.  Bukowskis was founded in 1870 and we have since conducted well guarded auctions with the involvement of royalty, as well as scandalous artists.  In 2014 Andy Warhols’ last work The Last Supper was sold at Bukowskis for 50 million Swedish crowns (ca. £4.3 million).

Alfred Wahlberg, Fog over Huskvarna Stream 1884, Bukowskis Auction

So lovely to see the works of some famous Swedish painters – here Alfred Wahlberg, ‘Fog over Huskvarna Stream’ 1884

What do your jewellery auctions look like?

At Bukowskis you can buy jewellery in three different ways.  On www.bukowskis.com you can place your online bids for diamonds and exciting jewellery around the clock.  At Fashion & Diamonds that takes place twice a year (autumn and spring) we combine designer clothing and designer costume jewellery with cool accessories – and real diamonds.  It is an unbelievably popular auction!  (The catalogue publication starts on 19th September).  Twice a year the most expensive jewellery is sold at Klassiska, in June and December.  The stunning pearl earrings will for example be on sale in December.

Oh yes, do tell us more about these sensational pearl earrings!

These are earrings for a real princess!  The design brings our thoughts to daughters of Renaissance rulers and you can almost hear the rustle of silk and elaborate lace collars.  The earrings feature some beautiful diamonds as well as six drop formed natural saltwater pearls in girandole style.  They are 6.5cm long and made out of 18 carat white gold.

Any other pieces of jewellery that have recently stood out  at your auctions?

We are experiencing a strong revival for pearls.  They must be real pearls and big in size!  In June this year we sold a remarkable brooch; the pearl was almost two centimeters wide and shaped like a banana (see photo below).  The setting was inventive and tasteful and it became the most expensive pearl that has ever been sold at an auction in Sweden: 3 million SEK (ca. £258,000)

Bukowskis Pearl brooch sold for 3 million kronor

Bukowskis Pearl brooch sold for 3 million kronor in June 2014

So do I need to add that we will be on pins and needles to see how much the earrings sell for at the December sale?!  I do of course promise to keep you guys updated, and I would love to hear how you would style them, if you had the chance to wear them one whole evening!  I think that I would go for hair up in a soft, loose bun and a floor length dress with a high neck, so that a necklace wouldn’t be required, to really highlight these beautiful earrings!  Ahh, a girl can always dream, right?  

Bukowskis ‘The Classic Sale’

Viewing: Nov 25 – Dec 1 2014, 11am – 6pm

Berzelii Park 1, Stockholm.

Auction: Dec 2 – 5 2014

Wahrendorffsgatan 8, Stockholm

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Jewellery Designer Bear Brooksbank

Aquamarine cuff designed by Bear Brooksbank

Bear shows us an aquamarine and rock crystal cuff that she designed for a client

Good morning dear!  I am so very pleased to bring you today’s post, where we are meeting with London-based jewellery designer Bear Brooksbank.  Not only does Bear bring us a beautifully designed jewellery collection, but she also provides a bespoke jewellery design service and has an stunning range of antique jewellery pieces that complement her own designs.

Ring designed by Bear Brooksbank

“Tourmalated”quartz ring by Bear Brooksbank

When you enter Bear’s office in East London you right away notice how light and spacious the rooms are, with tall, elegant windows and pure white walls – something that immediately appealed to my Scandinavian self!  This understated elegance is then further echoed in her jewellery designs, where clean lines highlight the fascinating gemstones that she has chosen to work with – and that is in fact how Bear starts designing each piece, by picking the perfect stone.

Ring designed by Bear Brooksbank

This beautiful quartz ring from another angle

What struck me about the designs was that natural inclusions of the gemstones hadn’t always been polished away; quite the opposite, as they were often the most striking features in Bear’s jewellery.  She explained to me that she loves to celebrate the natural look and feel of the materials, which in turn makes each piece unique.  Above you can see the perfect example of this, in a yellow gold ring with a tourmalated quartz centre stone.  Below is another great example, as on the right side of the aquamarine cuff you can see a big, natural inclusion in the rock crystal, that Bear worked into the design:

Aquamarine cuff designed by Bear Brooksbank

Aquamarine and Rock Crystal cuff designed by Bear Brooksbank

Bear is a qualified gemologist and she started her jewellery career at antique jeweller Humphrey Butler, an antique jewellery specialist here in London, who focuses both on estate jewellery and more contemporary luxury items, dating from the 18th century to the present day.  She began designing her own jewellery in February 2012.

Art Deco has long been a great source of inspiration for her, but lately she has found herself more and more inspired by the 1940s, as we can see in the beautiful Art Deco diamond dress ring below.  The ring is set with old round brilliant-cut diamonds, and I must say that there is just something so beautiful and romantic about old cut diamonds – do make sure that you take a closer look with a loop when you next run into one!

Antique 1930s Gold and Diamond Ring from Bear Brooksbank

Art Deco Gold and Diamond Ring from Bear Brooksbank

Bear doesn’t sell her jewellery via her website, instead her clients find her by word of mouth.  Part of the experience of having a pieces designed by Bear is working together with her; exploring the design, studying the metal and the gemstones, and bringing out a beautiful piece that is just your own.  Once you are happy with the design, her workshop will go ahead and create the piece for you.

Earrings by Bear Brooksbank

Earrings by Bear Brooksbank

Some of Bear’s designs are inspired by previous eras and some are of contemporary design.  When it comes to bespoke designs, she is able to remodel for example your granny’s brooch into a necklace, and she takes great care in preserving the sentiment of the heirloom, while creating a piece that you will love to wear today.  As mentioned before here on the blog, it is so easy to keep your favourite pieces hidden away safely as you don’t dare to wear them, but I thought that Bear summed it up perfectly when she said: 

“You mustn’t be too sentimental about jewellery – it should be worn!”

Bear Brooksbank - antique rings

A selection of rings from Bear’s collection

Bear also does bespoke engagement rings, where prices currently range from £1,900 up to £8,000, but if you would like to commission a piece on for example a £500 budget, then that can also be done.  In Bear’s own words: “Price shouldn’t limit you from getting the piece of jewellery that you want.”

Earrings by Bear Brooksbank

Earrings by Bear Brooksbank

So my dear, I would warmly recommend that you take a look on Bear’s website to see if you find inspiration or even a piece that you love – and then get in touch with her to create that perfect piece of jewellery for you!  And do remember so share a photo of it here on the blog, as we would love to see what you end up going for!

2 thoughts on “Jewellery Designer Bear Brooksbank

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The Rare and Stunning Yellow Diamond

Good evening my lovely, I had the opportunity to look closer at some of the yellow diamond rings in our shop the other day, and I wanted to show them to you here:

Yellow diamonds from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

Yellow diamond rings from Moira Fine Jewellery at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

Coloured diamonds are very rare, and naturally yellow diamonds are amongst the rarest, which is why they fetch such a high price.  The colour comes from the presence of nitrogen when the diamond is formed, and the most fabulously vivid yellow diamonds are found in South African mines. (1)  The clarity and the depth of the stone is looked at to determine the diamond’s value, and the presence of another colour can also affect what it will be priced at; orange colouring in a yellow diamond is more rare than brown for example, so an orangish yellow diamond will be more valuable than one with a brown tint.

Yellow diamond ring from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

I adore cushion cut diamonds and the above is a wonderful example, where you can see that the corners are so beautifully rounded off to create the cushion shape

I have written about the world’s most famous yellow diamond before here on the blog in the post A Tiffany & Co Love Story, but I really must mention it again!  It is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered and in rough it weighed 287.484 carats when it was discovered in South Africa’s Kimberley mine in 1878.  It was cut into a cushion shape of 128.54 carats, and in order to maximise its brilliance it was cut with 82 facets, which is 24 more than a traditional round brilliant cut diamond.  New York jeweller Charles Tiffany bought the stone and his gemologist George Frederick Kunz (at the mere age of 23!) spent a year studying the stone before cutting it. (2)

Yellow diamond ring from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

Another one of  Moira’s beautiful yellow diamond rings – you can view it at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade!

Yellow diamond ring from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

An oval yellow diamond surrounded by pavé set brilliant cut diamonds.  The tiny beads that you can see along the outer edge of the ring are called millegrain (a thousand grains) and they are one of my very favourite details in jewellery.  I will write a whole post on them soon!

Sources:

(1) Sciences – All About Yellow Diamonds  

(2) Wikipedia – Tiffany Yellow Diamond

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Catherine Southon – Auction coming up on 19th November 2014

You lovely readers often ask me about auctions and my response is always that you really must visit one (or a hundred) immediately, if not sooner!  It is such a fun experience and you can make the most amazing bargains!  The other day I had the pleasure of meeting auctioneer Catherine Southon – who has an auction coming up on Wed 19th November in Surrey – and I was able to get us some behind-the-scenes knowledge:

Catherine Southon Auction 19th November 2014

Just a few of the tempting pieces coming up in Catherine Southon’s auction sale on 19th November 2014

You might recognise Catherine from the BBC Antiques programmes Bargain Hunt, Flog it!, Antiques Road Trip, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and Trade Secrets, and before she got involved in all of these exciting TV shows, she spent nine years with Sotheby’s Auctions.  Initially Catherine thought that she would love to work with paintings, but she soon realised that she really liked the experience of being able to hold and examine objects – as opposed to just looking at a beautiful painting – and so she found her way to the collectors department, where we find non-traditional items like toys, dolls and rock&roll memorabilia!

Catherine Southon Auction November 2014 Pearl Bar Brooch

Catherine brought along a few of the beautiful pieces that will be up for sale at the 19th November auction, for example this Edwardian gold triple flower head bar brooch, set with seed pearls and diamonds. Estimate £200-£300!

After nine years at Sotheby’s, Catherine’s path lead to the TV-program Bargain Hunt.  In connection with the program she would give talks, and people would often came up and ask her where they could sell their pieces of jewellery.  At first she would refer them to various auction houses, but eventually she decided to set up on her own, and in November 2012 the doors to Catherine Southon Auctioneers and Valuers opened up!

Catherine’s auction house brings us jewellery, paintings, sculptures and furniture – and she describes auctions as being such fun, as “you can go to buy a diamond ring yet come home with a painting!”

Diamond and Sapphire Bracelet from Catherine Southon Auction

Diamond and Sapphire Bracelet from the sale on 19th Nov 2014 – Catherine Southon Auctioneers

I asked Catherine to talk us through an auction experience, and she started out by telling me about the catalogue, where you get a good idea of what items are up for sale.  Here you can also read the auction house’s opinions on the items (their estimation of colour and clarity of diamonds, what period various objects date from, what gemstones can be found in the pieces of jewellery etc.).  You can then visit the auction house a few days ahead of the actual auction date, take a closer look at all the pieces and ask the staff any questions that you might have.  The beauty of viewing the items like this is that there is no one there to hurry you, so you can take your time to investigate the pieces – touch and hold them, and really get a feel for the things that you are interested in.

The prices are also very reasonable compared to the high street, because you are buying more or less straight from the source, without any fees added on by various middle hands.  This week’s auction has something for everyone: vintage, Art Deco, Victorian brooches and costume jewellery, Georg Jensen… Now you all know that I love seeing the younger generation getting more involved in antique and vintage jewellery, and I can’t think of a better place for you to get started!

Diamond and Sapphire Ring from Catherine Southon Auction

I can never help but try on every piece of jewellery that comes in my way!  Here is quite a blurry photo of a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring from the Catherine Southon auction on 19th November 2014

Art Deco White Gold Diamond and Sapphire Ring at Catherine Southon

Art Deco White Gold Diamond and Sapphire Ring £400-£600 in the Catherine Southon auction sale on 19th November 2014

If you are unable to attend the auction on the day, you will be able to place your bids online and follow the auction live there – and you can also revert to the classic way of phone bidding.  As for selling your own pieces, everyone is welcome to bring them in for valuation and I know that some of us worry about having to pay a great deal of money to the auction house if the piece doesn’t sell, but Catherine told me that they only charge an administrative fee of £5-10 for unsold items, which is great news indeed!  For items that do sell their commission is 16.5%.

So have a good think about what you might need or want – for yourself or for your home – and instead of popping down to the high street, visit this auction house during their viewing hours (tomorrow Tuesday 18th November 9:30am-5pm and Wednesday 19th November 9am-11am).  The auction then starts on Wed 19 November at 11:30am and you can place bids for your favourite things and maybe come home with the most wonderful bargain!

And if you want to prepare some more before your visit, you can read the blog post Your guide to attending an auction, where we went through all the different things that happen during the day of the auction, and learn useful auction-related expressions!

 

Catherine Southon Auctioneers & Valuers

Farleigh Court

Old Farleigh Road

Selsdon

Surrey CR6 9PE

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Decades of Elegance November Holiday!

White travel jewellery box with compartments

White travel jewellery box with compartments

Hello my dearest, I am just packing my little travel jewellery box as I am off on holiday all of next week and will be back again on 17th November!  I am very much looking forward to seeing you after that, and until we meet again, remember to wear your most fabulous pieces of jewellery – even just for work or school, to give the day that lovely little gilt edge that you so well deserve!

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A Bakelite Cuff from the Roaring 20s

Good evening my lovely, I hope you have had a fabulous day in the sunshine!  Today’s post is about an amazing piece of history that I came across an antiques fair the other day:

1920s green bakelite cuff jewellery

1920s green bakelite cuff jewellery

It is a green Bakelite cuff, mostly likely from the American Roaring 20s!  The beautiful ladies of the time would probably have worn it with some matching earrings, a necklace and most likely also a flapper dress.

1920s green bakelite cuff jewellery

1920s green bakelite cuff 

Bakelite is a type of plastic that was popular in jewellery during the Art Deco period –  invented and patented by chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944) in 1907.  It was first used for industrial purposes, but eventually its versatility started shining through, when people realised that it could be moulded into various lovely designs and so it became a popular material in jewellery.  It was especially great during the Depression era, as its low cost or happy colours made it into a very popular choice of material.

1920s green bakelite cuff jewellery

The exquisite design of the hinge at the back of the cuff 

Today we can find antique bakelite items displayed in museums and they can fetch large sums when sold, partly because of their distinctive look but also because they represent an era when fashion items became affordable to all – as opposed to earlier times, when only the wealthy were able to indulge in fashion and consumer goods.

This little beauty is priced at £450 and if you are interested in it, please do send me an email to info@decadesofelegance.com – and I will put you in touch with the seller of the piece, the lovely Zena.

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An evening in 1930s Paris

Happy Monday my lovely one, I hope you had a fabulous weekend!  I sure did, as I went to an amazing 1930s Parisien style live music brasserie, that specialises in Gypsy swing – a style of music that stems from the 1930s Paris, and draws on nearly 2000 years of Gypsy culture.

1930s style hair and makeup, pearl necklace and polkadot dress

My take on 1930s style hair, makeup and outfit

I obviously took the opportunity to go all out, since I so rarely get the chance to dress up all 30s style – so I ended up looking a little something like this (which I think was more 40s style, but still, it was such fun!).  I did a bit of research online before I put on some red lipstick – for once in my lifetime managed to make the perfect eyeliner flicks!! and couple it all with a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, a polkadot dress – and a hairstyle that I twisted and messed around with until I decided to leave it as it was.

QuecumBar Gypsy Swing

QuecumBar - Peter Sheppard on guitar accompanied by an amazing gent on the accordion

The venue that we went to is called QuecumBar and it is widely regarded as the world premier venue of the music genre Gypsy swing.  They are dedicated to promoting the music of Django Reinhardt, the founder of Gypsy swing and they stage some of the world’s finest Gypsy swing musicians.  We had the pleasure of enjoying the performance of Pete ‘Tiger’ Sheppard on guitar and his amazing colleague (whose name I am unable to recall or find!!) on accordion.  Experiencing the music live in this atmosphere, in such a beautifully decorated restaurant immediately drew us all into 1930s Paris – just amazing.

Do take a look on their own website to get an idea of what Gypsy swing is all about, and they have some more amazing performances coming up this year, so make sure that you reserve a table, have dinner with your loved ones (I don’t have words to describe how delicious it all was – such a treat to have a fantastic French restaurant here in London!) and enjoy this amazing experience.  I can also warmly recommend that you get dressed up in the air of the 30s – even just a bit of red lipstick will get you in the right mindset – and get ready to be taken back in time!

I would also love to hear how you would dress up if you were given the dresscode 1930s style?

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Happy Halloween!

Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

Brompton Cemetery

Wishing all of you little pumpkins a fabulous Halloween!  Make sure that you have stacked up on sweets – or homemade, natural sugar-only treats ;) – for those teeny tiny Harry Potters, Grumpy Cats and ghosts that are bound to come knocking on your door.  And remember to incorporate some antique or vintage jewellery into your costumes – those witches didn’t wake up looking that fabulous, if you know that I am saying!?!!

Portobello Road Antique Snake Necklace with Diamonds Rubies and Sapphires

If you just want to give Halloween a little nudge, to show that you haven’t forgotten about it, you can always just a wear a piece of scary jewellery – like a snake necklace!

Happy Halloween!!!

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Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2014

LAPADA Fair in Berkeley Square, London

They do such a wonderful job setting up the LAPADA fair in Berkeley Square every year – making it so beautiful and inviting!

There was one stand at the LAPADA fair that I just had to stop at because of its pure beauty of colours and design:

Eddy Wertheim Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair in Berkeley Square

Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

I had reached the Japanese Gallery; traders since 1977, who bring us a wide selection of genuine Japanese art and artefacts, and showcase items like ceramics, Katana (traditionally made Japanese sword) and Ukiyo-e, that we are looking closer at below.

Beautiful porcelain cups and saucers from Japanese Gallery

Exquisite porcelain cups and saucers from Japanese Gallery

The Japanese word for describing porcelain and pottery is Yaki.  The history of porcelain-making in Japan is quite a brutal one, as a Japanese army invaded Korea in 1598, in the very beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868).  They kidnapped a few families that had learnt the art of pottery making from the Chinese, brought them back to Japan and set up their own porcelain production.  The continental influences remained in the art, even after Japanese artisans took to porcelain making and applied their artistic license many years later.

The famous tea ceremony culture gained ground in the late 16th century in Japan, which increased the porcelain production further.  Another increase in the demand of these exquisite pieces came with the baroque époque in Europe in the 17th century, when many people became wealthy and demanded oriental and unusual things.  (1)

This is a just a small extract of this fascinating history, and you can dig deeper into Japanese history on the Japanese Gallery website.

Japanese plate from the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Satsuma maple design plate 1868-1912 from the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Gallery Paintings at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Gallery art at the LAPADA fair

Ukiyo-e means “pictures of the floating world” and the world referred to in the name was one free from worries and concerns of life.  (1) and is a genre of woodblock prints and paintings that were popular in Japan from the 17th until the 19th century.  The artists would often paint beautiful women, sumo wrestlers, historic, landscape and travel scenes, as well as flora and fauna (2).

Japanese Kimono and Obi, the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Kimono and Obi, Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

There was also a lovely lady dressed in a traditional kimono among all these beautiful treasures.  I will be writing a blog post about vintage kimonos soon, so I was absolutely delighted to get a few photos of her!

 

Japanese Gallery

66D Kensington Church Street

London

W8 4BY

 

Sources:

(1) Japanese Gallery

(2) Wikipedia

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The Fascinating Fire Opal

The other day a fire opal and diamond ring made it into my hands for a few moments, and I obviously took the chance to photograph it for us here on the blog:

Fire Opal and Diamond Ring

Fire Opal and Diamond Ring

Our love for fire opals date back to ancient times, when it was the symbol of passionate love in India, the Persian kingdom, and in the Americas.  The Mayas and Aztecs called it Quetzalitzlipyollitli - ‘the stone of the bird of paradise’, as they believed that this kind of beauty could only ever have been created in the waters of paradise. (1)  The most significant fire opal deposits in the world can be found in Mexico, and it is Mexico’s national gemstone.

Fire opals reach a hardness of 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale (where a diamond is a 10 and sapphires are a 9) so it is quite a sensitive gemstone and must be worn with care.  The extraordinary colour in the stone comes from little traces of iron oxide, and some fire opals display the play of colours that we see in regular opals, however they are mostly known for their vivid body colour, as opposed to other opals, where the play of colours is what determines the value.

These beautiful gemstones bring us a feeling of warmth and well-being, and they are thought to bring courage, will-power and energy to their wearer.

 

Sources

(1) International Coloured Gemstone Association

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