Masterpiece London Cartier Corsage Auctioned Over $20 million
Beautiful, elegant, and typical of Cartier’s style during the Belle Epoque period, this brooch has a long history of wearers and buyers. Designed for Solomon Barnato Joel, an Englishman from humble roots and whose uncle, Barney Barnato, had left for South Africa during the diamond rush in the 1870s. Barney began selling cigars to diamond miners, but eventually worked hard enough to become the owner of several large mines. Solomon, his nephew, joined him in South Africa and took over the business in 1897, and eventually including gold mines into the enterprise.
Solomon made his fortune and returned to England where he enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. This included owning Drury Lane Theatre in London, several race horses, and had a strong reputation of being very generous through various philanthropic activities. In 1912, Solomon walked into Cartier with four of his best diamonds to be made into a luxurious brooch for the woman he loved. After he had passed away, this piece was passed down the family line and was sold by Christie’s Geneva twice.
Dating back to 1912, this devant-de-corsage brooch features a central pendant composed of a 34.08ct old-cut pear-shaped diamond, set above an oval-shaped diamond that weighs 23.55ct and a 6.51ct marquise-shaped diamond.
The pendant is suspended from two stylized palmette brooches that are set with circular cut diamonds. It is also surrounded by two articulated lines of diamond set lily of the valley motifs. The pendant is accompanied by four GIA reports that attest to the high quality of the diamonds.