Diamond and aquamarine tiara-necklace by Cartier London c.1935 – €475,000 (£424,000) at Dorotheum.

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Using around 70 carats of the pale-blue beryl in a range of shapes and cuts, it dates from c.1935 when, in the challenging post-Depression era, Maison Cartier was pushing aquamarines and topaz to the forefront of jewellery design.

At the time the London branch, still enjoying the patronage of the court and Indian maharajas, was Cartier’s flagship operation, employing talent such as Frederick Mew (responsible for many of the firm’s later Art Deco geometric designs) and Pierre Lamarchand (designer of the famous ‘bird in a cage’ brooch made during the occupation of Paris and the panther jewels for the Duchess of Windsor).

Famously, the Bond Street store received 27 requests for aquamarine and diamond tiaras in 1937 alone – many worn to the coronation of George VI that same year.

As fashions changed, many of these large diamond and aquamarine pieces from the immediate pre-war period were subsequently broken up.

Those survivors that have appeared on the market in recent years have done so with great aplomb including a similar necklace-tiara sold by Christie’s New York for a ten-times-estimate $650,000 in December 2018.

Dorotheum’s jewel, offered on June 10 (in a sale rescheduled from April 20) and estimated at up to €70,000, met a similarly enthusiastic response selling to a phone at €475,000 (£424,000).

The sale at Doyle New York (25% buyer’s premium) on June 24 included a similar Cartier London brooch of the same period.


Cartier London brooch – $55,000 (£42,300) at Doyle New York.

Of stylised buckle motif, it was centred by a baby-blue stone of around 29 carats set with old European, old-mine and single-cut diamonds.

One of 40 lots in the sale catalogued as the ‘property of an elegant lady’, it improved on its $15,000-20,000 guide to bring $55,000 (£42,300).