Three Art Deco emerald and diamond pieces by legendary British designer Hennell sold for $2.7 million (GBP 1.9 million) at Bonhams in London following a bidding war.
Hennell closed its doors for good in 2001, and was one of Britain’s oldest and most venerated jewelers and by the 20th century was rightly regarded as the British jeweller. Their clients, the crème de la crème of society, included members of the British aristocracy and landed gentry, Indian maharajas, American billionaires and European royalty. During the Art Deco period Hennell was known for offering its discerning clientele jewels of superlative quality, rivalling the offerings of the best French houses.
The three Hennell jewels hail from the private collection of Louise Stephens, wife of Michael Stephens, scion of the Stephens Ink family. In 1832, Michael’s grandfather, Dr Henry Stephens, invented an indelible “blue-black writing fluid” which was to become famous as Stephens’ Ink and revolutionize office life. The family firm manufactured the ink, building a factory in London, and transformed it into a successful worldwide enterprise and secured their fortune in the process.
The collection’s top-seller was an early-20th-century, double-sided-cabochon, 12.13-carat emerald and diamond pendant necklace (pictured), which went for $1.8 million (GBP 1.3 million), far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $206,723 to $275,631 (GBP 150,000 to GBP 200,000).
A polished-sugarloaf-cabochon, 9.28-carat emerald and diamond ring fetched $508,194 (GBP 368,750), beating its estimate of $206,723 to $344,538 (GBP 150,000 to GBP 250,000).
The third item, a clip brooch featuring approximately 40.15 carats of diamonds surrounding a pear-shaped, 7.49-carat diamond, garnered $318,009 (GBP 230,750), surpassing its estimate of $137,816 to $206,723 (GBP 100,000 to GBP 150,000).
The pieces came from the private collection of Louise Stephens, a member of the Stephens Ink family.
“The jewels are simply magnificent,” said Emily Barber, UK director of jewelry for Bonhams. “Superb emerald specimens like this do not come to market very often. The crescent-shaped emerald is no doubt an historic Indian gem, cut to maximize its ‘green fire,’ and the sugarloaf-cabochon emerald, a cut favored by early-20th-century Art Deco jewelers, is one of the finest examples we have seen.”
Other items that yielded high sales included an Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace and bracelet set that earned $1.5 million (GBP 1.1 million), more than four times its pre-sale estimate of $206,723 to $344,538 (GBP 150,000 to GBP 250,000). In addition, a Cartier Art Deco emerald and diamond bracelet made $425,505 (GBP 308,750), against a pre-sale estimate of $110,252 to $165,378 (GBP 80,000 to GBP 120,000).
The auction achieved a total of $10.8 million (GBP 7.8 million), with 91% of lots sold by value.