Masterpiece is one of the most important events on the art calendar in London and attracts collectors from around the world. The show is held at the same location as the celebrated Chelsea Flower Show, the historic South Grounds of The Royal Hospital and takes place from June 27 to July 3.
It’s considered a badge of honor to be able to show at Masterpiece London, and the jewelry brands and houses who do so position themselves among the world’s most important dealers of Antiques, Fine, Folk and Modern Art. A few of the impressive vintage jewelry purveyors who present are Véronique Bamps, Simon Teakle and Wartski. The rest of the group are jewelry houses showing new creations. Styles run the gamut from conceptual designs to freshly minted jewels from historical archives.
Read on for my selection of highlights from the new group of jewels.
If you happen to be attending the fair with a guest who needs convincing that jewelry is as expressive of an art form as any other medium, introduce them to Cindy Chao The Art Jewel post haste. In the case of both the brand and the museum-calibre designs—her Royal Butterfly Brooch was inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in 2010—the clue is in the full name of the label.
Add to this background the fact that Cindy Chao won the Highlight Masterpiece London award for the best jewelry creation this year with her 2016 ‘Winter Leaves’ Black Label Masterpiece IX necklace. Expect to fight your way through more than just the crowd of jewelry connoisseurs to glimpse this year’s astonishing 2019 Black Label Masterpieces II, III & V: the ‘Marguerite Brooch’ and the ‘Royal Feather Brooch. My personal favorite is the ‘Scultura di Giglio’ bangle.
If you happen to be the kind of treasure hunter who appreciates an intellectual use of materials, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you see Fabio Salini’s latest designs in real life. As an artist whose medium is jewelry, Fabio twists perception with perfectly polished gold, colored titanium and gemstone slices.
According to the brands literature, “Mirrored surfaces reflect the colors of stones, conjuring up volumes where in reality there are only luminous flat surfaces. The magic of the mirror creates volume where there is none, a play of voids and unreal solids.” In short, think neon gemstones on display in a house of mirrors atop a post-futuristic structure.
Grima needs no introduction in London, but if you are not familiar with his name in the United States, Andrew Grima was a master jeweler during the 1960s and 1970s who made artistic pieces with textured gold and avant garde shapes. The jewels first caused a sensation back in the day when Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were among the clients. Today, the label is experiencing a full blown renaissance. Dive into the Grima stall at Masterpiece, where there is a carefully curated selection of archival jewels and recent creations from his daughter Francesca Grima.
“This is our fifth year exhibiting at Masterpiece, and it’s the only fair that we do. It’s the only place in the world you can see us – other than by appointment at our boutique,” Francesca explained to me. The stars of the show in the new collection are the ‘Rope’ earrings with Yowah Nut opal drops, an open ring with green tourmaline and baguette diamonds, and a ring with a pair of cashmere quartz totaling 34.28-carats surrounded by diamonds, all in yellow gold.
A name which adds gravitas to Masterpiece London’s credentials as a fine jewelry destination is Van Cleef & Arpels. The creations on display this year exemplify the codes of the house perfectly; inducting even a novice to the iconic Zip Necklace and Ballerina Brooches, interpreted in the ‘Antique Orient’ style with voluptuous turquoise accents on diamonds and pearls. The ‘Saphir Rose’ collection is an altogether different affair – a modern ode to pink sapphires and the delicate beauty of their shade variations.
You’ll find the canonical Verdura and Herz-Belperron under one roof (or rather cozied up in one booth) at Masterpiece London 2019. Verdura continues to create jewels from Duke Fulco di Verdura’s archive of nearly 10,000 designs, and his creations are as covetable as any conceived today – such as the ‘Flower Bud’ open bracelet – punctuated with enormous Kunzites.
Widely recognized as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, Suzanne Belperron’s legacy is a similarly extensive archive of over 9,200 designs. The ‘Corne’ diamond earclips are modern ear climbers by most accounts, except that their inception preceded this trend by at least half a century. Get to know Belperron as she was an innovator decades ahead of her time.