The daughter of one of the richest men in America, banker George Fisher Baker, she became one of the most celebrated and talked about socialites of her time, not least for a passionate and very public affair with the artist William Orpen.
St George bought her ‘collier de chien’ during one of her annual shopping trips to Paris, c.1910.
Lalique created a few other chokers in this trelliswork pattern between 1900-10 employing a variety of materials and motifs. This particular suite, made in the moulded glass that would become Lalique’s trademark punctuated by diamond highlights, was later converted to a bracelet, earrings and a brooch. The winning bid at the auction on October 22 was £21,000 (estimate £10,000-15,000).
It has been a common refrain that period pieces – bursting with style, quality and both design and social history – have drawn the most enthusiastic bidding in recent months. Antique and vintage jewellery outperformed the branded pieces and the large modern stones at this Select Jewellery and Watches sale at The Mall Galleries in London.
The results sheet was topped by an outstanding example of 19th century revivalism – a beautifully worked gold and enamel bracelet centrally set with a carnelian intaglio. It carried the maker’s mark GM for Neapolitan jeweller Giacinto Melillo (1846-1915). A gifted student of Etruscan, Roman, Greek and Byzantine art, Melillo trained under Alessandro Castellani and by the age of just 24 was running the Castellani workshop in Naples.
This bracelet, offered in a wooden maker’s case, dated from c.1880, by which time Melillo was a regular on the international exhibition circuit (between 1870-1900 he received five gold medals). Estimated at up to £15,000, it sold for £28,000.
Also in a case by Melillo, a pendant formed as two mermaids set around a citrine with pearl drops sold for £4600. The subject matter was particularly apt for the maker: the mermaid Parthenope, one of the Sirens of Greek mythology, is the symbol of Naples.