Internationally esteemed London dealer S.J. Phillips Ltd
is once again showing an exceptional array of breathtaking antique jewels, together with a superlative collection of exquisite gold boxes, as well as other unique and rare objets de vertu at the forthcoming prestigious art and antiques fair Masterpiece London.
One of the Fairs founder members S.J. Phillips has exhibited at every Masterpiece since it first opened its doors in 2010.
This year S.J. Phillips stand is as magnificent as ever. Among the recent acquisitions on display is a remarkable, bejewelled 18th century chatelaine, complete with pocket watch and breloques (charms). Attributed to George Michael Moser and made in London in around 1780, the quality of craftsmanship and the lavish use of diamonds and enamel indicate that it would have been commissioned by a person of considerable wealth and standing, most likely a member of the Russian Royal family. Nicolas Norton, Director of S.J. Phillips said: This chatelaine is an incredibly rare piece and is amazing to have survived in such outstanding condition. Jewels of this nature and stature are extremely hard to come by. The asking price is in the region of £250,000.
Other notable show-stoppers include an exceedingly important diamond necklace, which was given as a wedding present to the American heiress and socialite Helen Hay on the occasion of her marriage to Payne Whitney, son of politician and financier William C. Whitney in 1902, (asking price in the region of £5,000,000) and a pair of earrings set with impressive natural Burmese rubies (asking price in the region of £1,000,000).
Also taking pride of place is S.J. Phillips outstanding collection of fabulous 18th century Portuguese jewellery. Portuguese jewellery of this period has its own strong identity and is remarkable for its originality of design and prolific use of stones such as topaz and chrysolberyl. The latter is a clear, hard stone, not dissimilar to diamond, but with a slightly yellow tinge. These exotic, colourful gems were mined in the Portuguese colonies of South America and brought back to Lisbon where they used to great effect in the burgeoning jewellery industry. It was not just affluent women who draped themselves in flamboyant jewels, men too also wore gem-set orders and decorations, or at very least their coats were adorned with precious buttons.
Another important feature of S.J. Phillips stand at Masterpiece is the eminently distinguished collection of European gold boxes. Tristan Atkins of S.J. Phillips explains: The gold box market is very niche, extremely exclusive and dominated by some extremely rich international collectors. The majority was originally made as snuff boxes, but due to their grandeur and the superb quality of craftsmanship they were never used as such. Instead they were prized as objects of great beauty to be displayed and admired.
Among the highlights is a gold and vari-coloured hardstone mounted box by one of the most sought-after box makers Johann-Christian Neuber of Dresden, 1790. This exceptional piece is inlaid with no less than 48 rectangular specimens of semi-translucent and opaque Saxon hardstones, including a variety of agates, cornelian, jasper and amethyst (asking price in the region of £1,000,000).
Also in this category is a mesmerizingly beautiful George II gold mounted Bristol blue glass nécessaire dating from circa 1750 and charmingly decorated in gilt with classically inspired scenes of rural landscapes dotted with a variety of buildings. A single diamond opens the lid to reveal an interior, which contains four miniature facetted blue glass scent bottles, which neatly fit around a central compartment complete with its original mirror. The compartment would have been used to keep patches, an important 18th century make-up accessory (asking price in the region of £130,000).
Other boxes are set with precious stones or decorated with scenes painstakingly created out of the exacting technique of micro-mosaic. An unusual example takes the shape of a small tortoise complete with its shell, ruby eyes and its enameled feet set with tiny diamonds. The underside of the tortoise opens into a central cavity (asking price in the region of £80,000). The more ornate and complex, the more highly prized the boxes tend to be explains Tristan Atkins.
Additional highlights presented by S.J. Phillips at Masterpiece include:
Early 20th century diamond and sapphire pendant, French c.1910, formerly belonging to Cornelia, Countess of Craven. Asking price in the region of £100,000
Gold and diamond bracelet by Mauboussin, Paris c.1945, Asking price in the region of £20,000
Antique enamel, ruby and pearl blackamoor jewel with brooch pin fitting, Italian c.1680. Asking price in the region of £70,000
Pair of antique Etruscan style "Campana" sun-chariot crescent gold earrings by Castellani, Rome c.1860. Asking price in the region of £300,000
Antique gold fringe necklace by Castellani, Italian c.1860 inspired by the "Melos" necklace c. 330-300BC now in the British Museum. Asking price in the region of £200,000