Goodbye, Fabulous Antique Jewels! Later this week, a sale of jewelry from the collection of Sir Elton John will begin at Christie’s in New York. The sale includes a whole range of pieces, but today, we’re taking a look at some of the excellent brooches being offered in the auction.
Sir Elton John has been known for decades for his flamboyant performance style, including lots of sequins, feathers, and sparkle. But he’s also an enthusiastic jewelry wearer in his day-to-day life off the stage. Artists like Sir Elton have been pioneers in blurring the traditional masculine/feminine lines in the jewelry world, embracing glittering earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and brooches as part of their attire, both for day and evening occasions.
Delightfully, more and more men have begun embracing jewels like brooches as gala accessories, and seeing male celebrities wear both modern and antique jewels on their lapels as they walk red carpets is an increasingly common occurrence. Even Grammy Awards host Trevor Noah opened the show on Sunday wearing a Tiffany Bird on a Rock Brooch pinned to his jacket! (Remember Michael B. Jordan doing the same last year?) And when Sir Elton arrives for his annual Oscars viewing party in Hollywood each year, he’s almost always sporting a fantastic brooch, as well as a glittering earring and sometimes a fabulous bracelet, too.
Sir Elton being Sir Elton, though, he hasn’t needed a red carpet as an excuse to pull out a fabulous piece of jewelry. Here’s a snap of him wearing a beautiful Art Deco brooch on a football pitch during his tenure as chairman of Watford FC in the 1980s!
If you’re a fan of some of the brooches that Sir Elton has worn over the years, you’re in luck: this week you have the chance to bid on one during a special auction at Christie’s. The auction house is selling some of the contents of the condominium on Peachtree Road in Atlanta owned by Sir Elton and his husband, David Furnish. They’re leaving the property behind after more than three decades, and Christie’s is offering an auction of art, clothing, photographs, jewelry, and more, some of which was commissioned specifically for the residence.
The press release from Christie’s notes, “We take immense pride in presenting this multi-category sale, featuring a refined assortment of photographs, artworks, fashion, and costumes — a testament to a man’s eclectic vision, artistry, and impeccable taste.” You can see the contents of all of the different connected auctions, including the dedicated jewelry sale, at the Christie’s website. Today, though, I thought I’d showcase a few of my favorite brooches being sold, from antique pieces to modern jewels.
The pieces being offered in the jewelry sale showcase the breadth and depth of Sir Elton’s taste, ranging from traditional antique pieces to playful and even irreverent designs. This first brooch is sort of a combination of the two: a yellow gold brooch from Cartier London, designed in the shape of a brick. The jewel, made in 1974, is a reference to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, his iconic, signature double album. Christie’s has set an auction estimate of $6,000-8,000 USD for the brooch.
The sale also includes another eye-catching Cartier piece. The diamond, ruby, and white gold brooch comes from the firm’s “Le Baiser du Dragon” collection, made about two decades ago. This jewel is expected to fetch between $3,000-5,000 USD.
Queen Camilla would surely approve of this Van Cleef & Arpels dragonfly brooch—it’s similar to a pair in her own jewelry box. Sir Elton’s version is made of mother-of-pearl and diamonds set in white gold. It’s also expected to bring between $3,000 and 5,000 USD.
Queen Camilla’s jewelry box also includes a lovely pair of jeweled pansy brooches. Sir Elton is selling a similar one at Christie’s, made by Oscar Heyman & Brothers, a wholesale jewelry firm that makes pieces for the retail market. They’ve produced similar pansy brooches for Tiffany & Co., but the notes from Christie’s are silent on that possible connection. The notes do clarify that the brooch is made of yellow gold and platinum and set with diamonds, rubies, peridots, and citrines. They estimate that it will bring between $6,000-8,000 USD.
The jewelry auction also includes this unique modern jewelry piece from a Los Angeles brand, Chrome Hearts. Founded in the ’90s in Hollywood, the brand is led by designer and motorcycle enthusiast Richard Stark, and I think you can see that biker aesthetic influence on this piece. The heavy silver brooch, which is set with diamonds and a central ruby, was made in 1997. Its auction estimate is set at between $1,000-1,500 USD.
While many of the jewelry pieces in the auction are modern, there are some fantastic antique jewels included as well. Among them is this diamond and sapphire ribbon brooch, made in France around 1935. It’s a signed piece from Marcus & Co., a jewelry firm founded in Manhattan by a German artist who had worked for the King of Saxony’s court jeweler before emigrating. The Art Deco brooch is expected to bring between $6,000-8,000 USD.
Here’s another antique brooch from the sale. The description of this one is a little vague: there’s no estimate of its age (aside from “antique”) and the red gemstones in the piece are simply described as “red gemstones” without any elaboration. I think this one could be nineteenth century, but even that’s just a guess on my part. The auction estimate is set between $2,000-3,000 USD.
But because I’m me, and you all know my taste pretty well, you won’t be surprised that this is the brooch that I liked most from the selection offered. It’s a classic nineteenth-century diamond cluster brooch with a smoky brown citrine as its centerpiece. (It reminds me a lot of this similar royal example.) The lot notes estimate that it was made around 1860, and the citrine measures north of 33 carats in size. The estimate for the brooch is set between $3,000-5,000 USD.
Like I said before, this is just scratching the surface of the numerous jewelry pieces included in the jewelry-only sale, and there are even more jewels included in other auctions from the collective sale. (This Art Deco diamond bracelet is another personal favorite.) Bidding on these jewels begins online on February 9th, if you’re interested in owning a piece of jewelry with a rock and roll pedigree!