How to Collect Jewelry and Watches: Your Guide to Upcoming Highlights

Fabergé, diamond brooches and more

Learn about some of the upcoming highlights in our May 19 Jewelry and Watches Auction

05/17/2021     News and Film, Jewelry and Watches

Whether you’re a new collector seeking an affordable entry point or a seasoned expert looking for a fresh addition to your collection, Freeman’s auctions offer a range of options. With focused insight from our specialists, our Collector’s Guides help you navigate the market to find the perfect piece. Here, Freeman’s Jewelry and Watches department weighs in on highlights from its upcoming auction.


Unusual Pieces, Remarkable Provenance


A bicolored gold-mounted lapis lazuli and diamond miniature picture frame, Fabergé

Lot 112 | A bicolored gold-mounted lapis lazuli and diamond miniature picture frame, Fabergé, $15,000-25,000


It’s not every day that a picture frame goes up for sale at an auction dominated by necklaces, rings, and brooches, but Freeman’s May 19 Jewelry and Watches auction presents a rare opportunity to bid on a remarkable Fabergé frame. This miniature gold-mounted lapis lazuli and diamond picture frame is noteworthy not just for its form or its striking blue-and-gold appearance, but also for its provenance—it comes to Freeman’s auction through direct descent of O. Roy Chalk.

Chalk (1907-1995) was a wealthy entrepreneur and art collector remembered for his notable collection, which included works by Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and other distinguished artists. Chalk had several diverse holdings in transportation and real estate; from 1956 to 1973, he owned D.C. Transit, which at the time was the city’s predominant bus and streetcar company. He and his wife owned and lived in a 16-story apartment building on New York City’s Fifth Avenue—directly across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art—that Chalk purchased for $1,000,000 in 1942.

The Chalks donated the famous 38-carat Chalk Emerald to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1972; it is displayed there next to the Hope Diamond. The beautiful Fabergé frame featured in Jewelry and Watches, c. 1890, was but one outstanding piece of the Chalks’ extensive collection. Says Virginia Salem G.G., Head of Freeman’s Jewelry and Watches department, “This miniature frame, embellished with diamonds, goes perfectly alongside any tastemaker’s jewelry collection.”


Dress Clips and Brooches: Must-Have Accents


A colored diamond, enamel, and eighteen karat gold brooch

Lot 74 | A colored diamond, enamel and eighteen karat gold brooch, $25,000-35,000


Dress clips or clip brooches, a jewelry design that achieved popularity during the 1920s, typically encompass two similar or matching components that can be worn separately or together. Well-designed samples are made with an additional mechanism functioning as the brooch frame in which the two counterparts fit to be worn as a single brooch. Most dress clips are made of white metal and stones—generally platinum and diamonds—with some inclusion of colored stones or enamel as an accent. A diamond and sapphire brooch designed as five interlocking circles, featured in Jewelry and Watches, offers a fine example of this style, with both colored stones and diamonds and a glamorous yet understated design (Lot 14; estimate: $2,000-3,000). The style exemplifies the geometry and symmetry characteristic of the Art Deco period, as well as the luxury borne of the modernization of America.


A diamond brooch


Lot 2 | A diamond brooch designed as a dragonfly, $5,000-7,000 


“Decadent” is a term often used to describe America in the 1920s, an era of booming prosperity and consumption. The introduction of mass production and access to more disposable income caused Americans to redefine their leisure time. The fashion and entertainment industries in particular benefitted from this newfound influx of consumerist activity. Films doubled as advertisements, parading beautiful women in lavish garb accented by tasteful jewelry. Quickly, dress clips were in vogue and highly coveted.


A diamond and eighteen karat bicolor gold clip brooch

Lot 77 | A diamond and eighteen karat bicolor gold clip brooch, $3,000-5,000


Many of the brooches on offer in Jewelry and Watches bring the natural world into play, from a dragonfly brooch set with mine-cut diamonds and ruby cabochon eyes (Lot 2) and a diamond-and-ruby-studded dragonfly designed to appear as if it’s just fluttered out of the garden and onto your shoulder (Lot 15) to a clip brooch depicting a swordfish (Lot 77) and a colored diamond, enamel, and eighteen karat gold brooch designed as a jockey on horseback (Lot 74).


A diamond and ruby brooch

Lot 15 | A diamond and ruby brooch designed as a butterfly, $2,000-3,000


These striking, elegant statement pieces—both abstract and figural—are an unmissable highlight of the upcoming auction. The versatility of dress clips remains compelling to modern jewelry collectors; fortunately, the polished look of Art Deco jewelry never ceases to conjure elegance. A bold set of dress clips affords endless possibilities—whether worn as a pair on either side of a formal dress neckline, as a completed brooch on a lapel, as one half to spruce up something casual, or even fashioned into earrings, dress clips transcend gender and attire guides with graceful adaptability.



Browse the upcoming auction and register to bid on the items in this collection, or join us online to watch the auction live on May 19.




Have something similar? Get in touch with our Jewelry and Watches department to request a complimentary auction estimate.