Jewelry

#RocksMyWorld: The Cartier Jewel of a Screen Legend Goes on the Auction Block at Sotheby's

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In this weekly feature, InStyle’s jewelry and watch editor Marion Fasel shares the inside scoop on the treasures that are on her radar. Look for it every Thursday on What’s Right Now, and follow Fasel on Instagram (@marionfasel) to see more gems that rock her world.

The seasonal auctions at Sotheby’s are always filled with spectacular vintage jewels for treasure hunters seeking something unique. Shortly after the Important Jewels sale in February, Mary-Kate Olsen was photographed wearing a Cartier 4-carat diamond, sapphire, and gold ring made around 1953 on her engagement finger, and it looked exactly like a design from the selling event. (The discreet Sotheby's specialists, however, won’t say for certain.) For the Dec. 9 Magnificent Jewels auction at Sotheby’s in New York, there is another Cartier stunner among the offerings—a bold tri-color gold and lapis bracelet made around 1940 from the collection of screen legend Marlene Dietrich.

One of the stylish stars of the silver screen era in Hollywood, Dietrich created a signature look of stunning sequin gowns, sharp men’s suits and statement jewels. Frequently the jewels she wore in movies and photographs came from her own sensational collection. In the 1938 film Angel, Dietrich flaunted her massive emerald and diamond bracelet and brooch from Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin. For her starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950 thriller Stage Fright Dietrich looked dazzling in Dior gowns and her grand one-of-a-kind ruby and diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels.

The actress put on the Cartier jewel being sold at Sotheby’s for several photographs over the years. It was gift from her intimate friend Eric Maria Remarque, the author of All Quiet on the Western Front, who she helped to immigrate to the United States during World War II. The co-chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, Lisa Hubbard sat down with InStyle to tell us more about the jewel.

PHOTOS: Celebrities Wearing Cartier

What it was like for you to receive this piece and the photos of Dietrich wearing it?
I loved it immediately. It’s so bold, stylish, and contemporary even though it is almost 75 years old. Jewelry is the most personal of the decorative arts and is made to be worn. In the case of this bracelet, it is a perfect reflection of the independent spirit and self-confidence that is central to Marlene Dietrich’s persona.

Dietrich had impeccable taste in jewelry. Tell me what makes the design of this bracelet so special?
There is so much style in the sculptural piece. The use of gold and lack of sparkly stones reflects the more spartan, almost masculine forms that prevailed in jewelry made around the time of World War II. The polished, tightly intertwined links in three colors of gold are joined by a large polished cylinder of lapis lazuli that has age. Cartier was known to incorporate interesting and often ancient stones in contemporary jewels as I think was done here. And it isn’t too big, but it also is not a dainty jewel. It is perfect for day wear.

The tri-color gold links in the bracelet are reminiscent of Cartier’s Trinity Ring. Can you speak to those design details in context with the history of Cartier?
The tri-color Trinity links were created by Cartier in 1924. The white link stands for friendship, the yellow gold link for loyalty and the rose gold link is said to signify true love. This is one of Cartier’s enduring motifs and seems a fitting present from Remarque to Marlene given their close friendship.

The estimated value of the jewel is $20,000 to $30,000. For bidding details and more photographs of the jewel and Dietrich go to sothebys.com.

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