A Gold, Enamel and Diamond Case

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    • Circa 1930

    • Single-cut diamonds, total approximately 0.40 carat

    • Signed, numbered, with Paris assay marks
      18 karat yellow gold, approximately 3.80 x 3.25 x 0.65 inches

  • Catalogue Essay

    The striking and unusual art deco jeweled creations by Cartier reflected society’s exposure and interest in various cultures. Color, shape, type, and form of decoration and composition grew from strong Egyptian, Persian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese influences. For example, the small lacquer containers, called Inro, that Japanese men wore around their waists to hold their personal belongings (money or snuff), influenced the shape and possible design of cigarette cases and vanities. Similarly, artifacts were incorporated into designs, including Egyptian faience, Mugol carved beads, and Japanese lacquer burgauté. Shared motifs, color palettes, gemstones, and forms were also utilized in these works; all of which resulted in the creation of extraordinary jewelry, objects and timepieces.

    This art deco case illustrates how Cartier combined elements from the Persian and Indian cultures. In fact, the central enamel plaque, in traditional Indian color and material, depicts two birds on a tree which relates to Persian mythology. Ohmazd, the creator, produced a tree with ripened seeds on the shore of sea Vourukasha. The bird, Amrosh, comes to sit on the branch and shakes it, scattering the seeds to the ground. The second bird, Chamrosh, comes and scatters the seeds upon the sea, from which they are taken inside the clouds and are rained upon earth. The birds are immortal and the cycle is perpetuated.

    This Persian motif was favored and used among several vanity and cigarette cases and similar smoking implements. The earliest case with this motif was created in 1911 for Cartier stock by Henri Lavabre in Paris. According to the Cartier archives, the enamel plaque was supplied by Imre Schwaiger, a Hungarian associate who help procure Indian jewelry and objects for Cartier. It is not definite whether other plaques were part of this early purchase, but nevertheless the bird and tree motif was a dominant theme, with several examples produced circa 1930. For a similar example please see vanity in The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection. While several jeweled objects were created with this inset motif, each is unique and enhanced further with individual enameling and ornamentation, making no two alike.

  • Maker Bio



    With the Constitution of 1848 came a new standard for luxury in France. Founded one year prior by Louis-Francois Cartier, the house of Cartier was one of the first to use platinum in jewelry making. This incredibly expensive material became the stepping-stone for Cartier to experiment in form, mechanisms and attitude. It helped men move from pocket watches to wristwatches, effectively making the watch much more functional and prominent in a man's overall wardrobe.

    Cartier did not only touch on functionality. Inspired by a commissioned painting by George Barbier featuring a black panther at the feet of an elegantly bejeweled woman, Cartier began incorporating wild animals in his designs—most notably, Cartier Panthère rings, bangle bracelets and watches. Yet it wasn't until the late 1960s that the house of Cartier debuted their iconic yellow and rose gold LOVE collection, which includes the famous bracelet that only a special screwdriver can open. 

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Property from a New York Family Collection


A Gold, Enamel and Diamond Case

$5,000 - 7,000 

sold for $12,500

Contact Specialist
Susan Abeles
Head of Department, Americas and Senior International Specialist
New York
+1 212 940 1383


New York Auction 6 December 2018