New Jewelry Books on Bulgari & Cartier

From left to right: Cover for Bulgari Magnifica: The Power Women Hold published by © Rizzoli. Cover for Sixieme Sens Par Cartier: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by François Chaille, © Flammarion, 2022.

For those of us who love reading about jewelry and looking at the wonderful images showcased in the pages of luxurious coffee table books, it is truly a treat when a new tome on the subject is published. Rizzoli and Flammarion have both recently published beautiful new books on two jewelry houses, one focusing on Bulgari the other on Cartier.

Bulgari Magnifica: The Power Women Hold

Bulgari Magnifica: The Power Women Hold is an ode to women. The new Magnicifa high-jewelry collection “pays tribute to the pioneering vision of indomitable women who blazed their own paths, broke boundaries or shattered cultural norms.” When stylist Tina Leung was approached to curate this book about the Magnifica collection, she knew it would be about magnificent jewelry, but as she writes in the book’s introduction, it is “A magnificent book about women for women by women.” 

The women who are Bulgari’s muses have also been instrumental in shaping a new perception of women based on their courage, resilience and talent. Although they come from many different backgrounds, the commonality between these women is that they have an innate ability to think outside the box and reimagine the future. 

There are three chapters in the book: The Head, The Heart and The Hands. Inside the pages, Bulgari creative director, Lucia Silvestri takes readers behind the scenes for a look at the inspiration and design surrounding the Magnifica collection. There are also poems throughout the tome written by DJ Mia Moretti for each chapter. Other women have also written essays in the book about being a woman and what that means and how society views women. Ultimately, of course, throughout the 208-page book there are pages and pages of fabulous color renderings of the pieces in the collection along with full color photos of the jewels once they were made.

Edited by Tina Leung, a fashion stylist known for her eclectic sense of style and work with luxury brands, the text is by Amanda Nguyen, Lucia Silvestri, Mia Moretti and Noor Tagouri. Jewelry photography by  © Bulgari and additional images by © Laura Sciacovelli

Sixieme Sens Par Cartier: High Jewelry and Precious Objects

In Sixieme Sens Par Cartier: High Jewelry and Precious Objects, author François Chaille explores a new collection of high jewelry and precious objects from the design house and how these pieces touch our senses and our hearts. The author suggests that as we view the jewelry it will be appreciated with our five senses and then one step beyond with our “sixth sense”.  The 256-page book, published by Flammarion and packed with 200 color images, showcases a number of historic pieces. It is divided into six chapters: The Beauty of Mystery, Dizzying Senses, Luxuriance, Beyond Compare, Optical Games, Animal Instinct and Alter Egos.

The jewelry is considered for how it speaks to our senses. Textured jewelry appeals to our sense of touch, while perfectly cut gemstones attract our sense of sight, for example. The book takes an in-depth look at Cartier’s best-known collections including Tutti-Frutti and Panthère.

The chapter “Dizzying Senses” discusses Tutti-Frutti jewels, pieces created from rubies, emeralds and sapphires carved as florals and leaves, accented with diamonds,  as the embodiment of texture and color. It details how the cacophony of colors and textures appeals to the senses with some people even “hearing sound” from the artfully jumbled array of colored gemstones. The look was inspired by the Mughal Maharajahs and their brightly hued carved gems. When Tutti-Frutti debuted in Europe it was a modern look for modern women, freed from the rules of earlier decades. There are some wonderful images of vintage Cartier Tutti-Frutti jewels included in this chapter.

The chapter “Animal Instinct” takes a deep dive into the renowned Panthère collection. It investigates the way panthers, and other Cartier jeweled animals appeal to our sixth sense, the knowing of the unknown. The cats were created to be anatomically correct in the way their muscles move, their facial expressions and even the way they pose. The cat theme was also referenced by gemstones used to replicate fur. Panthers are perhaps one of the best-known motifs from Cartier and this book showcases a satisfying menagerie of jewels — beyond panthers — and the inspiration behind them.

Author François Chaille has written 15 books about the history of art, fashion, horology and jewelry including Cartier: Creative Writing and Coloratura: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by Cartier.

Authored by Amber Michelle

Are Signed Jewelry Pieces More Valuable?

Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond and Platinum Snowflake Bracelet, Photo Courtesy: J. & S.S. DeYoung

When it comes to rare and exquisite vintage jewelry, signed pieces can be among the most sought after and hard to come by jewels. Those highly coveted pieces of signed jewelry are very desirable to collectors as well as to people who want an assurance that they are getting top quality gems, impeccable fabrication and stellar design. The right signature on the right jewel can also add a premium to the price of the piece.

“Signatures can add tremendous value,” comments Miami-based Steven Neckman of the eponymous firm. “If it’s a recognized signature it shows the quality of a piece. When a jewel is signed Tiffany & Co., Cartier, or Van Cleef & Arpels, you know it is well made and that they use quality stones. Generally, with signed jewelry it’s a given that the quality is excellent with strong design.”

New York-based dealer, Richard Buonomo, principle of the firm bearing his name, agrees that a signed piece of jewelry carries a guarantee of quality, prestige and value, but he notes that there are some caveats to a signature’s worth. “A piece is more rare if it is signed, it is scarcity that drives prices up,” says Buonomo. “Still a signature does not always mean much. Some pieces are so generic or have so little design that it doesn’t change the price much.”

The Status of a Signature

Beyond the precious metals, fabulous gemstones and intrinsic design value, people also want signatures to elevate their own status. “People have a desire to be associated with something that lifts them up in society and enhances their status. It’s a basic human instinct,” observes Janet Levy of J. & S.S. DeYoung, in New York City. “A piece of jewelry with a signature denotes both quality and status.”

But what if two pieces are comparable, essentially the same in terms of quality and styling, yet one is unsigned. How do you decide which piece to purchase? According to Neckman, a signed piece of jewelry is more marketable, but that can also vary depending upon how hot a name is in the current market, something which changes over time.

Certain signatures are always top of the list for those seeking signed pieces – Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co. and Harry Winston. But Levy has noticed that over the past ten or 15-years name recognition has increased for many other design firms and that has opened up the market significantly. “There is a much wider appreciation of special designers — Sterlé, Mellerio, Boivin. There were a lot of very refined French design houses and a circle of designers who were more art houses. That world has opened up a lot because people have found out about them online. Now people know names that they didn’t know 20-years ago.”

Vintage Versus Modern

According to Levy, the market for signed jewelry can be divided into two areas — modern and vintage. “If there is a quality signed vintage piece it will be more valuable because these pieces are no longer made and they are very collectable. There are more collectors now, so those pieces are harder to find and more valuable,” explains Levy. “With modern pieces the signature is tied to market demand or quality. The pieces are not as rare because they are in production. The value is influenced by how available and how much demand there is for a particular name.”

Neckman considers signed jewelry to be collectable art and notes that some artists are more valuable than others and cites Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulagri and Cartier as three current top sellers.  

“It’s not just a signature that adds value,” concludes Buonomo. “Some pieces of  jewelry are imbued with a certain character of design that is associated with that name. The jewelry will have all the characteristics of design, quality of materials and manufacturing. That’s when you have a perfect storm for everything to add value to the piece and that’s when you can charge more for the jewel.”

Authored by Amber Michelle