The Biennale des Antiquaires was held with the usual fanfare this year in its usual venue in the Grand Palais in Paris. It was my first visit to the Biennale and I loved the magnificent setting of the Palais, a fitting foil for the magnificent exhibits on show. My head was turned by the variety of the exhibitors, but of course I went to see the jewellery. Some of the big names were conspicuous by their absence, but there were a couple of newcomers, young companies who were outstanding: Cindy Chao and Nirav Modi.
In no particular order, the pieces I would have taken home:
Rose Petal Earrings by Cindy Chao.
A truly original pair of earrings which epitomises Cindy’s fascination with nature. Like in nature, no two are exactly the same and this is reflected in the asymmetric nature of the piece. The earrings are fashioned in titanium- a very laborious process which nevertheless makes them very light to wear. The mosaic pavé work of the different sized stones is a masterclass in the art of stone setting.
2. Padparascha Sapphire Lotus Ring by Nirav Modi.
The central stone is a rare, unheated padparascha sapphire of peerless quality. It is surrounded by beautiful D coloured diamonds that have been so finely set they look like they float on the hand. Nirav Modi is opening his new showroom in Bond Street in London this month and we wish him every success
3. Art Nouveau Pendant by Georges Fouquet, exhibited by Epoque Fine Jewels.
This Belgian company is well known in the high end art fair circuit, but I only came across it for the first time at the Biennale. It specialises in very beautiful, very unique Art Nouveau jewels of museum quality- the value of these jewels lies in the piece as a whole, not the constituent parts. This woman’s head pendant particularly took my fancy and would leave any true jewellery connoisseur drooling.
4. Pink and Blue Diamond Necklace by Cartier, exhibited by Véronique Bamps.
This exhibitor had also been honoured by being awarded a coveted place in the Salon d’Honneur. While many jewellers today would be tempted to overdress such an important stone such as this one, this necklace showed classic Cartier restraint and good taste. The very pale pink pearls on which the pink diamond was suspended is a triumph of colour matching.
5. Platinum and Diamond Tiara, probably by Chaumet, exhibited by Alain Pautot.
I couldn’t go to a jewellery show in Paris and not be taken in by a diamond tiara... Although not signed, this superb piece is thought to be by Chaumet, made at the turn of the century. It is a lovely example of a Garland Style jewel and not difficult to see why Chaumet supplied anyone who was anyone with glittering headgear during the heady days of the Belle Epoque.