Boivin and Belperron: bold, gem-laden geometry

In the heady world of Paris between the two world wars, Deco jewelry ruled – which made the bold jewels designed by Juliette Moutard of René Boivin and Suzanne Belperron stand out all the more. Christie’s Paris is offering three spectacular bracelets this month that typify that other style favored by sophisticated Parisians in the late 1930s.

Bracelet (left) of amethysts and emeralds, c. 1937, by René Boivin, and two by Suzanne Belperron of amethysts, tourmalines and kunzite (center) and tourmalines, emeralds and peridot (Christie’s Images)

[Update 11/27/11: René Boivin bracelet on the left sold for $245,756, more than expected, but Suzanne Belperron’s design with green stones, far right, sold for $330,980, a record price for a Belperron bracelet and more than double the estimate. Further proof that Belperron’s reputation is continuing to grow, along with the value of her jewelry.]

Bracelet on the left was designed by Juliette Moutard of Boivin around the time Suzanne Belperron created the two on the right. Moutard took over as chief designer at Boivin in 1931, the  year Belperron went out on her own, having working for Boivin since 1921. The bracelets have the characteristic bold, geometric style and unconventional materials for which the house of René Boivin became famous under Jeanne Boivin.

Suzanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard of the René Boivin were both rising design stars in the decade before World War II, after which gold and lavish gems became difficult, if not impossible, to come by – especially in occupied Paris.

Their bracelets show how similarly the two women were designing at the time, even though Belperron had left Boivin several years before. Like Moutard, Belperron’s career was launched by Jeanne Boivin, who took over the firm after her husband’s death in 1917 and continued his legacy for bold innovation. Even though the Boivin jewels created in the following decades carry his name, what you’re really seeing, for the most part, is the collective, creative genius of a small group of women.

One of the bracelets by Belperron (center) is made with amethysts, tourmalines and kunzite; the other (right) has tourmalines, emeralds, and peridot. Each is estimated to sell at Christie’s Paris on November 24 for $110,000 to $165,000. (For more about upcoming jewelry auctions, visit our auction calendar.) The Boivin bracelet is expected to bring a bit more ($137,600 to $206,400). Here’s a closer look at that one:

Gold bracelet with amethysts and emeralds by René Boivin, late 1930s (Christie’s Images)

Soon after designing this piece, Juliette Moutard would abandon bold, geometric work for a more naturalistic style. Unlike Belperron, who went out on her own, Moutard stayed with Boivin for the rest of her career, well into the 1970s. Boivin’s daughter Germaine joined the firm as a designer in 1938 and took over running the company after her mother retired.

Related posts:

Women who paved the way: Jeanne Poiret Boivin

Women who paved the way: Suzanne Belperron

Women who paved the way: Jeanne Toussaint of Cartier

Jewelry & watch auctions 2011

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