Podcast: All About Innovation – Retro Jewelry

May 2, 2022   |  Vanina Pikholc

Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry specialist and director Marie-Cécile Cisamolo shares her passion for pieces from the period, highlighting some of its icons.

Gemologist and art historian Marie-Cécile Cisamolo, who started her career at Christie’s London, says reading Melissa Gabardi’s history of 1940s European jewels inspired her to fall in love with Retro jewelry.

In this new episode of the Jewelry Connoisseur Podcast, the jewelry director at Sotheby’s Geneva explains the special significance of the Retro period. She puts the jewelry created in this era in its political and economic context, as events from the mid-1930s to the ’50s pushed jewelers to be as innovative as possible. “What we see happening is a completely different way of treating jewelry,” she explains.

Boucheron Retro bangle in platinum and gold set with calibré-cut sapphires and circular-cut diamonds, circa 1937, sold at Christie's Geneva, May 2018. Photo: Christie's.
Boucheron Retro bangle in platinum and gold set with calibré-cut sapphires and circular-cut diamonds, circa 1937, sold at Christie’s Geneva, May 2018. Photo: Christie’s.

Cisamolo points out how yellow gold flourished during the Retro years, when “creators who wanted to do something extraordinary had to go and play with the gold. It was all about the material, and they created magic with it,” she says. When World War II made precious gemstones unavailable, even the most important jewelry houses resorted to using synthetic stones. This strategy did not affect the intrinsic value of the pieces, Cisamolo notes. “If you see any cocktail watch or cocktail ring from the ’40s, 80% chance is they’re synthetic. It doesn’t make them less appealing,” she says.

Suzanne Belperron gold, emerald and diamond brooch, circa 1950, sold at Sotheby's Geneva, May 2022. Photo: Sotheby's.
Suzanne Belperron gold, emerald and diamond brooch, circa 1950, sold at Sotheby’s Geneva, May 2022. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The jewelry specialist singles out some of the key creations of the 1940s, which include Cartier’s bird brooches, Van Cleef & Arpels Hawaii collection, and the tubogas style, named for the gas tube it resembles. Regarding the performance of Retro jewels at auction, Cisamolo regrets that they are not as popular as she’d expect, making them a good investment for early collectors. One example of iconic Retro jewelry coming up at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on May 10 is a “Belperron brooch from 1950 that is literally a yellow gold curl with a line of emerald, and the yellow gold is textured. It is check, check, check, Retro, which excites me,” she shares.

To listen to the Jewelry Connoisseur Podcast, click below.

Main image: Marie-Cécile Cisamolo; Van Cleef & Arpels Passe Partout-Hawaii necklace and ring in 18-karat gold with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, circa 1940, sold at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York, April 2014.

 image

JEWELRY CONNOISSEUR NEWSLETTER

Sign up

Get the latest jewelry insights directly to your inbox

Share

Podcast: All About Innovation – Retro Jewelry

Share with others

Search

Date
Clear all search filters