Antique Jewelry & Gemology
Photos courtesy Joseph DuMouchelle
Joseph DuMouchelle’s fine jewels and timepieces auction was held on August 16 in Birmingham, Michigan, with around 105 lots on offer for jewelry enthusiasts and dealers. When I spoke with Melinda “Lindy” Adducci, G.G., vice president of Joseph DuMouchelle, on the phone after the sale, I noted that the relatively small sale “packed a punch,” and she responded, “That’s what we do in August.”
The top lot of the Joseph DuMouchelle sale was this Edwardian platinum, carved natural emerald, and diamond sautoir-style necklace that came from a Detroit family. The center drop section is approximately 3 1/8" long x 1 1/8" wide, and the necklace top is approximately 16" long. The central carved emerald measures approximately 22.0 mm x 14.3 mm. “What’s cool about the emerald is that those carved emeralds usually had a life before—they came out of India, the Maharaja—the carved emeralds are just really special.” She said, and many interested parties agreed, that the necklace is of the quality of “one of the big houses, like Cartier—but there are no numbers, and it’s not signed.” She explained that in the workshops of that time, the artisans “didn’t always sign everything. Sometimes they worked on different projects for different companies.” The strong result gave a nod to that sentiment. The necklace sold for $168,750 (est. $75,000/150,000).
These vintage David Webb 18k white gold, turquoise, and diamond drop design earrings, 2¾" long overall, were shown being worn by a model on the Joseph Dumouchelle Instagram page (www.instagram.com/josephdumouchelle) and the Joseph DuMouchelle Estate Jewelry and Auction Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Joseph-DuMouchelle-Estate-Jewelry-and-Auction). She is also wearing the Buccellati bracelet, seen below. The earrings brought $43,750 (est. $20,000/30,000).
Adducci wasn’t sure of the age of this Buccellati 18k yellow gold, amethyst, and ruby hinged-style cuff bracelet, but she said it is “not older than thirty years.” It falls into the category of big gold bracelets that are selling well. With a central oval faceted amethyst measuring approximately 16.9 mm long x 1.5 mm wide x 1.5 mm deep, it sold for $23,750 (est. $6000/9000).
The top-selling lot was an Edwardian platinum, carved natural emerald, and diamond sautoir-style necklace that sold with buyer’s premium for $168,750 (est. $75,000/150,000). A photo of Lindy Adducci and Joseph DuMouchelle’s daughter wearing it was posted on the Joseph Dumouchelle Instagram site (www.instagram/josephdumouchelle). It was refreshing to see this exquisitely made necklace, made over 100 years ago, worn by a person in contemporary clothing. We’ve included that image along with the catalog photo and descriptive caption in this column.
This circa 1939 Tiffany & Co. 18k yellow gold, ruby, and diamond hinged cuff bracelet, set with six carved rubies measuring approximately 7.50 x 5.50 mm, accented by 18 European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.01 to 0.02 carat each, sold for $6250 (est. $5000/8000).
This French antique 6" long gold, emerald, and diamond bracelet with 95 rose-cut and 145 old-European-cut diamonds weighing a total of approximately 5.00 carats, surrounding five emerald-cut emeralds (the central emerald measuring approximately 8.44 mm x 7.58 mm x 5.84 mm), brought $3125 (est. $2000/4000).
This antique gold and diamond 12¼" long necklace, in the original labeled “A La Vieille Russie” box, was one of Adducci’s favorites in the sale. “This is a real antique necklace with the big diamonds—all old-European-cut. It’s not a replica, and it’s just heartening…. There are so many replicas of them, and there are some that are not as nice.” With a total diamond weight of approximately 17.17 carats, it sold for $15,000 (est. $10,000/20,000).
Other antiques that fared well include a circa 1900 Tiffany & Co. platinum, 18k yellow gold, .80-carat unheated natural Burma ruby, and diamond heart-shape ring, accompanied by an AGL report, that sold for $6250 (est. $5000/8000); a French antique gold, emerald, and diamond bracelet that brought $3125 (est. $2000/4000); and an antique gold and diamond necklace with a total diamond weight of approximately 17.17 carats, in the original marked “A La Vieille Russie” box, that sold for $15,000 (est. $10,000/20,000).
Who Has a Sale in August?
When I first started writing this column many years ago, I learned that there is not much auction activity in the summer and that an August sale of fine jewelry was virtually nonexistent.
Joseph DuMouchelle is a family business, and they work on a schedule, or add to it, as it makes sense to them, and cater to the needs of their consignors—often pushing conventional boundaries. Adducci told me stories of past auctions that illustrate the company’s rationale for doing business the way it does.
“Two years ago we had a big diamond that we sold in August,” referring to the Art Deco 13.88-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond and emerald ring that sold for $1,328,125 (est. $400,000/600,000) in August 2016. “We only had nineteen items in the auction—that was it…. The staff in New York were saying, ‘August? Are you sure you can get anybody in here?’ And I said, ‘You watch. It’s not about that. They’ll come. If you have the right items, they’ll come.’ We had diamond dealers flying in from Miami, from Tel Aviv, we had people from L.A.—we had 120 to 130 dealers only. They were just diamond guys! It was hilarious.” Seventeen of the 19 lots sold.
This 18k yellow gold, emerald, and diamond ring, with a central emerald weighing approximately 5.03 carats, was accompanied by an AGL report stating that the natural green emerald has an origin of Colombia, had minor enhancement, and is a mixed type. Adducci said it was a “traditional style, so it’s tough to say exactly” the age. She estimated that it was made in the last 20 to 30 years. The ring sold for $36,250 (est. $25,000/35,000).
This retro 14k yellow gold, aquamarine, and ruby ring, the aquamarine weighing approximately 6.80 carats, accented by six round faceted rubies, sold for $1562.50 (est. $1500/2500).
This pair of retro 14k rose gold, green gold, aquamarine, and ruby fan-shape earrings, each approximately 1¼" long, with aquamarines weighing approximately 8.70 carats total, each earring accented by four round faceted rubies, sold for $1562.50 (est. $1500/2500).
This Art Deco platinum, sapphire, and diamond bracelet, 7 3/8" long x 5/8" wide, was among the top lots in the DuMouchelle sale, and Adducci said it was “fabulous.” With triangular links set with 42 step-cut natural blue sapphires measuring approximately 3.5 mm x 2.7 mm to 4.0 mm x 3.0 mm, surrounded by 84 baguette-cut diamonds measuring approximately 2.4 mm x 1.5 mm to 3.4 mm x 1.5 mm, and 294 old-European-cut diamonds measuring approximately 1.5 mm to 2.7 mm, it sold for $75,000 (est. $30,000/50,000).
“It’s just because we’re an auction family, and we just do different things. We don’t follow the trends; we don’t follow what everybody else is doing. We do whatever we want to do! One year we had two auctions in December. We had a big estate come in for a Dodge family the Monday after our auction on a Thursday.” After receiving a call from an estate representative who said that the jewelry from the estate had to be sold by the end of the year, the DuMouchelle team sprang into action. “We said, ‘OK, we’ll do another one.’ We threw together another auction and previewed again in New York and Michigan and had a phenomenal second auction in December. We just move quick and fast, and we know how to do it.”
Joseph DuMouchelle holds more auctions now than it did in the past. “We used to do them twice a year, back in the ’90s—huge, sit-down auctions—three times a year, maybe.” The company has been using the auction platform Invaluable.com since 2007 (when it was still Artfact.com). “We started running online auctions then, running them at odd times, and I think we’ve been doing August for about five years. I like August, and I like January,” when there are fewer auctions. With so many sales happening online as well as live, “there is no traditional season.” Adducci is not a fan of December auctions and said the company tries to hold a November auction instead. “People are overwhelmed by e-mails, the Internet, social media, shopping online—stimulation beyond stimulation.”
This contemporary platinum 17.18-carat sapphire and diamond ring is “not older than thirty years,” according to Adducci. It came with a GIA report stating that the origin of the sapphire is Sri Lanka, and that it had been heat treated. Accented by 12 round brilliant-cut diamonds, it brought $37,500 (est. $30,000/50,000).
Adducci said this Art Deco platinum and diamond ring was “adorable. Everybody loves these little antique rings.” With an approximately 1-carat old-European-cut diamond accented by 13 round-cut diamonds set within fine millegrain borders, it brought $4375 (est. $2000/4000).
A plan for an auction at the end of November 2017, including a large estate collection of older Tiffany, was thwarted. “We wanted to do it the last weekend in November because we knew it would be better—we wouldn’t have to compete with everybody else. But the court did not sign off on it soon enough. We were one week later than our schedule, so we had to do it in early December. We had a great auction, but collectors and dealers told me, ‘I’m so overwhelmed. I would’ve bid a lot more, but there were so many auctions, I couldn’tgo preview.’”
What’s Hot and What’s Not
We like to keep abreast of what people are buying, and we asked Adducci, who has her finger on the pulse of the trends, for her opinion. “Watches are selling, of course, like crazy. Fancy colored diamonds are going through the roof, obviously, and what else? Signed pieces. And some of the bigger gold bracelets—people love big, heavy gold bracelets, like the David Webb, the vintage ’70s—is definitely selling.”
This Raymond Yard Art Deco platinum and diamond bracelet from the 1920s or 1930s, 7½" long x ¾" wide, was among the top lots, selling for $93,750 (est. $50,000/75,000).
Examples in the auction included a Buccellati 18k yellow gold, amethyst, and ruby hinged-style cuff bracelet, which falls into the category of big gold bracelets and also signed pieces. It brought $23,750 (est. $6000/9000) and is pictured in this column. A circa 1970 David Webb platinum, 18k yellow gold, and diamond hinged-cuff bracelet (not pictured) sold for $18,750 (est. $5000/8000). Adducci said, “All of the 1970s items are trending right now.”
She added, “Cultured pearls are coming back. I don’t think they’re bringing the big money yet—but they are back. I mean, they were dead in the water for a while. Untreated stones are still so good. I think for consumers in the U.S., if you have something that is the best, it will sell. If it’s average, in the middle, that market is struggling.”
Check out upcoming fine jewels and timepieces auctions at (www.josephdumouchelle.com). Joseph DuMouchelle’s main gallery is in Birmingham, Michigan, and the company has offices in New York City and in Palm Beach and Naples, Florida.
One of Adducci’s favorite lots in the sale was this circa 1900 Tiffany & Co. platinum, 18k yellow gold, natural ruby, and diamond heart-shape ring. “It’s an antique ring from the turn of the century—a really adorable little Burma unheated ruby. It’s not like it was big, it was just special—you just don’t see that.” The ruby is surrounded by 25 old-European-cut diamonds ranging from approximately 0.01 carat to 0.10 carat each. Accompanied by an AGL report stating that the approximately .80-carat ruby has an origin of Burma and no gemological evidence of heat, it sold for $6250 (est. $5000/8000).
This Verdura 2 1/8" x 1 3/4" platinum, 18k yellow gold, ruby, and diamond heart brooch “is a modern (circa 2015) version of the first Verdura Wrapped Heart, made back in 1941. The Wrapped Heart design was commissioned by Hollywood legend Tyrone Power, who asked the Duke [Duke Fulco di Verdura] to ‘gift wrap’ his heart to give his wife Annabella on Christmas 1941. This Wrapped Heart brooch design celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and endures as one of the most iconic pieces of Verdura’s collection,” wrote Adducci in the catalog. It sold for $53,125 (est. $40,000/60,000).
Adducci said the 10.09-carat Burma sapphire in this platinum, sapphire, and diamond ring “is unheated, so it is old mine material from the 1940s or earlier. The ring is recent in the last twenty to thirty years.” Accompanied by an AGL report backing up this information (origin of the sapphire is Burma, and there is no gemological evidence of heat), it realized $81,250 (est. $60,000/80,000).
Originally published in the November 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest