Door Kimberly Klosterman
The One That Got Away… And Found a Better Home
I have currently “gone fishing” after packing up the show, Simply Brilliant, Artist Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s. The show of my personal collection, at last, at home, in the bank vault – having travelled to DIVA in Antwerp (Belgium),The Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim (Germany) and lastly to the Cincinnati Art Museum, where it originated. It was a good run and well received, although COVID did put a damper on the European venues. And sadly, I could not even attend. But I hope it helped spread the word about some of these great artist-jewelers from the period who not only worked independently and sold to the jet set, but helped inform or even stock major houses during this wild and crazy environment of free thinking and innovation in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s been a pleasure to learn more about Andrew Grima, Gilbert Albert, Jean Vendôme, Arthur King and others. Also to meet and kindle relationships with so many people, including Thierry Vendôme, Francesca Grima, Amanda Triossi (a long time friend) and Ruth Peltason (who is also writing a book on jewels from the 1960’s and 70’s ), and many, many more who contributed to the understanding of this unexplored territory.
V&A’s jewelry collection
So now I am taking a European break, and always of course visiting everything jewelry I can. First stop, Portobello Road, second stop, the Victoria and Albert Museum. I have a special fondness for the jewelry collection there. And so the story begins…
Sometime in 1997, when I was first beginning my jewelry business I purchased a wonderful Tiffany diamond brooch from a local dealer in Cincinnati, Ohio. It did not come cheap, but it was marked TIFFANY PARIS, and I knew, even in my early dealing and collecting stages that that was a rare and good thing. It was platinum topped gold, which, as I learned on my “Sotheby’s Understanding Jewellery“ course with Amanda Triossi, that it dated round about 1900. I loved it, but at that time had declared myself a dealer, so it was for sale.
Tiffany that looks like Lalique
However, there was something special about this piece. Whenever I referred to it, I said the “Tiffany brooch that looks like Lalique”. It was a pretty thistle shaped piece but had almost a menacing quality. I took it to my first big Antiques show, The Miami Beach Antiques Show. I proudly exhibited it alongside my other stock of mostly signed pieces, it even had a little gold plaque, pointing out that it was Tiffany. Not one person asked about it, the next stop was Japan.
No one wanted to purchase it
A friend of mine from school at Sotheby’s had organized a major jewelry symposium. She asked me to come along and bring jewels for the handling session. All of the major Japanese collectors and jewelry dealers were there. We passed around about 12 jewels I had with me, including this one. The idea was to examine the jewels carefully for construction, repairs and of course makers marks. This piece was clearly signed “Tiffany Paris” on the top of one of the leaves. It was identified and then passed to the right. I was disappointed no one wanted to purchase it, It seemed perfectly suited for the Japanese taste. But no worries, I still liked it.. It came home.
My next pre-internet endeavor was to advertise the brooch on a postcard that went to all my clients. Nothing. Nothing, until I set up at a tiny show in Saratoga New York. My mother had race horses, so it was a no brainer. We traveled to Saratoga every summer and I always looked forward to shop this quaint little charity show. Now as an exhibiter, I cleaned up my rented case, hooked up some lights and displayed the jewels. I remember my father being so impressed that I actually could do all of this. The show was always well attended. It was during the horse sales and all the swells were there. Mary Lou Whitney always bought something at the show… she came by my booth… and passed by.
Never wholesale signed pieces
Then an older, small, red-headed lady came. She was friendly and told me she was a dealer-collector. She looked hard at everything. When she spotted the Tiffany brooch she would not put it down. She said she liked it, but it was way too pricey. (I had paid a lot for it and on the advice from another sage dealer had priced it double… She warned me never to wholesale my signed pieces! Oh, how times have changed!)
She returned the piece and came back 15 minutes later and bargained again. In the end, she took the brooch home for my full price. I was elated.
The next morning, I received a phone call from her. She informed me that after looking over the brooch she found that there was a tiny mark on the pin stem.. the French makers mark for who else… René Lalique!
I visited the brooch last week at the V&A, No. 1 in the 1900 section of the jewelry room. Bittersweet, but it couldn’t have a better home. Thanks to the generosity of the small red-headed dealer-collector Pat Goldstein you can see it now too. Her entire collection was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
I hope you enjoyed this story of another artist-jeweler who was retailed by a major house. I’ve got a million of ‘em !
If you want to learn more about my collection of 60’s and 70’s jewels,
Cynthia Amneus, the exhibition curator at the Cincinnati Art Museum published a wonderful book of the same title: Simply Brilliant: artist-jewelers of the 1960’s and 70’s. The art museum still has a few copies available in the gift store.
The book has essays by renowned authors, biographies of over 75 artist-jewelers, and of course, MAKERS MARKS!
2020 – The Jeweller’s Art – Revolutionaire juwelen uit de jaren 1960 & 1970, DIVA, Antwerpen (België) (30 oktober 2020 t/m 14 maart 2021)
2021 – Simply Brilliant: Artist-Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati (Ohio, Verenigde Staten) (22 oktober 2021 t/m 6 februari 2022)
2021 – Simply Brilliant: Artist-Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s/Einfach brillant – Künstler-Juweliere der 1960er und 1970er Jahre, Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, Pforzheim (Duitsland)
Amnéus, C., MacPhàrlain, A., Peltason, R., Ransome Wallis, R. en Triossi, A. (2020) Simply brilliant, artist-jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s. Lewes: D Giles Limited. ISBN 9781911282525
Doornbusch, E. (9 april 2021) Glamourous en onconventioneel: de collectie van Kimberly Klosterman. SieradenMuze.
Doornbusch, E. (5 november 2021) Overzicht gastcolumns eerste jubileum 2021. hedendaagsesieraden.nl.
The Jeweller’s Art, Revolutionaire juwelen uit de jaren ’60 & ’70 (2020). Antwerpen: DIVA.
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