Sotheby’s NY to hammer Exceptional Jewels

Apr 13, 2023

Sotheby’s presents, the Wolf Family Collection; the Spirit of America. It is exceptionally rare to encounter a collection that embodies the American spirit in such tremendous depth and breadth; a collection that was clearly assembled not only with great care, but also with a deep curiosity and passion for learning.

The Wolf Family Collection is unparalleled in the history of American collecting. Reflective of the collectors themselves—deeply inquisitive, engaging and thought-provoking —The Wolf Family Collection is unique in its expansive snapshot of American art and collecting.

Sotheby’s Spotlight is on the Wolf Family Collection! Like the fine and decorative art in the Wolf Family Collection, the jewels reflect a lifetime of connoisseurship and an appreciation for rare, often one-of-a-kind designs. The vast majority are signed by esteemed makers, from inventive creations by René Boivin, Jean Schlumberger, and JAR to classic styles by Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb, and Harry Winston.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of the Collection is the extensive selection of Van Cleef & Arpels mystery-set jewels — one of the most impressive of its kind ever to appear at auction – with nine stunning examples from a variety of periods in sapphires and rubies.

Wolf Family; Erving and Joy Wolf approached jewelry in just about the same way they did every category in their landmark collection. The Wolfs gravitated towards exquisite and iconic mid-20th century designs. Big gemstones alone were not enough to pique their interest, but the gems in the jewels they considered had to be beautiful.

Proportions needed to be perfect, and the piece had to have a relatively grand sense of scale. Who made the jewels was of the utmost importance.

Van Cleef & Arpels Mystery-Set Jewels from the Wolf Family Collection includes nine stunning mystery-set jewels by Van Cleef & Arpels. Each exquisite creation incorporates delicate mosaics of colored gemstones held in place without visible metal claws or collets.

Van Cleef & Arpels first introduced pieces incorporating the “serti mystérieux” in Paris in 1933 and patented the technique in France and the United States, as well as in a number of other countries. The style was immediately popular and became iconic for the firm. Early examples of mystery-set jewels were either flat or slightly curved, but over time refinements to the process allowed for the creation of more complex, undulating surfaces, as found in the Wolf Collection’s stunning flower brooches.

Assembled over a lifetime of impassioned and assiduous study, the nine pieces constitute one of the largest offerings of Van Cleef & Arpels mystery-set jewelry ever to come to auction.

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