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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inside The Haute Joaillerie Section Of TEFAF Maastricht

Wallace Chan introduces a group tour at TEFAF to his dreamlike world

From the dreamlike world of Wallace Chan to the precise jewelry art of Hemmerle, the high jewelry area of TEFAF Maastricht, though small, contained a wealth of variety. And from the moment the show started, the jewelry lovers who came to the small out-of-the-way city of Maastricht, Netherlands, to attend The European Fine Arts Fair (more commonly known as TEFAF) started buying.

The bamboo framed exhibition space of Hemmerle

On the March 9 preview day, moments after the doors opened at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) for the VIP buyers, I was inside the bamboo framed Hemmerle exhibition space when a woman came in, tried on a pair of one-of-a-kind gold earrings made with a wax process that created gold strands in a basket-like weave. She walked back and forth briefly looking in the mirror and bought them on the spot. I took a picture before they were whisked away.

Hemmerle earrings that sold within minutes after TEFAF opened. Old mine cut diamonds appear to be floating inside gold strands that looked as if they were weaved

“The fair is our first public presentation each year and we are glad to report strong consistent sales from the first 10 minutes of day 1,” said Christian Hemmerle at the close of the 10-day fair.

These earrings from Wallace Chan have everything: wood and titanium; emeralds, sapphires and diamonds; shadows and light 

Before I had a chance to enter Wallace Chan’s booth, the famed Hong Kong jewelry artist sold one of his elaborate titanium and colored-gem brooches. Chan, who always is in a good frame of mind, was particularly happy at this year’s show, saying he loves seeing old friends here.

Belperron diamond and ruby necklace. the center stone is a
rare star ruby

Meanwhile, Ward and Nico Landrigan, the father and son team that own the mid-20th Century brands, Verdura and Belperron, also were in good spirits after selling a circa 1960 yellow gold and diamond Verdura brooch. 

A Verdura bird clutching a natural pearl with diamond and emerald wings.

I was trying to have lunch with the public relations representative of Hancocks of London and couple of other jewelry writers (I said trying because the restaurant was so full they stopped serving food, giving an idea of how crowded it was), when the PR rep looked at her phone and suddenly said, “I have to go the tiara’s been sold.” The “tiara” is the Spencer family Edwardian diamond tiara. It was given to Lady Delia Spencer, great aunt to Princess Diana, by her father the 6th Earl Spencer, on her wedding day in 1914. Set with more than 800 old cut diamonds, estimated to weigh a total of 48 carats, the tiara can be transformed into a choker necklace and bracelet.

The Spencer Tiara sold by Hancocks of London

Very few of the prices of these sales were revealed but these are not typical impulse purchases. These are items that sell from tens of thousands of dollars to the stratosphere. One price that was revealed was the “Nef” necklace, from German high jeweler Otto Jakob that sold for €142,000 ($153,580).

An emerald ring by Reza

I had to cancel an appointment with Olivier Reza, the head of the Parisian jewelry brand, Reza, because the jeweler’s booth was too crowded with customers. 

Van Cleef & Arpels transformable necklace and earrings, 1959, made of emeralds, yellow and blue sapphires, and diamonds

Van Cleef & Arpels and Chopard, the two largest brands in the high jewelry section, brought combinations of vintage and new jewels. 

Chopard L.U.C. XPS made with Fairmined gold

Opening day, March 10, was more manageable but still very crowded. I spoke to one woman lived about an hour away in Germany who said it was the first time she attended an art fair. She came to see Wallace Chan’s exhibit and was so amazed and astounded by what he presented that she returned to the booth seven times. She purchased Chan’s book “Dream Light Water” and had the artist sign it. 

Honcocks of London's booth

Final numbers released by TEFAF show that the fair was very active with more than 71,000 visitors, from more than 60 nations visiting the 275 dealers during the 10-day fair. This includes approximately 200 museums. 

The bust Verdura and Belperron booth

High jewelry amounts to one of nine art categories that TEFAF offers. The others are Antiques, Classical Antiquities, Curated, Design, Modern, Paintings, Paper, and Showcase. Trade fair officials were touting some of the larger sales. Among them:

* Antiquariat Bibermuehle AG Heribert Tenschert sold a 12-volume series of books, Historia naturalis, originally created for Emperor Rudolph II of Habsburg, 1596-1610, to a private collector. The series came to market for the first time in 25 year and was sold for a seven-figure sum. 

* Tomasso Brothers Fine Art sold an important work by the Renaissance master Giambologna (1529-1608). It is the earliest recorded work by the artist and the only surviving sculpture that he carved in wood. The carving was acquired by a new client, described as an important European private collector, and was priced at about €1.5million ($1.62 million). 

* Antiques dealer Les Enluminures sold the 1,000-year-old Gospel Book of Liesborn Abbey in Westphalia to the German government for more than $3 million. 

* Ben Janssens Oriental Art Ltd said he sold more than 70 items by the mid-point of the fair, including a set of four iron paintings, Tiehua, China, Qing dynasty, 18th Century, which had an asking price of €50,000 ($54,000). 

Rossi & Rossi sold a colorful Tibetan cloth painting, “Sabzang Pakpa Zhonnu Lodro” (1358-1412/24) for approximately $400,000. 

The artwork at the entrance of TEFAF Maastricht

* Emanuel von Baeyer sold 12 works to private collectors with further works on reserve with museums. A key work that sold was The Signboard of the Gersaint Gallery, 1732, the very rare engraving after Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). 

* James Butterwick sold more than €180,000 worth of works, including Still Life with Carafe and Glass on a Mirror, 1915 by Alexander Bogomazov (1880-1930) to a private Swiss collector.

* Landau Fine Art, Inc. had one of the biggest sales of the Fair, selling the monumental work “Henri Michaux acteur Japonais,” 1946 by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), which had an asking price of $6.5 million, to a private collector. 

* Bernard de Grunne sold 11 Sepik works from Papua New Guinea to one private collector. The pieces ranged from €80,000 to €250,000 ($86,500 to $270,000). 

* Classical antiquities sold at Charles Ede included a statuette of the “Apis bull, Late Dynastic Period,” 26th Dynasty, circa 664-525 BC, which had an asking price of £65,000 ($81,100), as well as a Graeco-Roman large footed basin, circa 2nd-century BC, with an asking price of £160,000 ($199,650).  

The talk prior to the fair was that art and jewelry sales are down. This is either an exception or the beginning of a new dawn for both the art and jewelry markets. 

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