Monday 23 September 2019

Treasures: Sign on the dotted lion...

Fred Paris stylised leopard brooch
Fred Paris stylised leopard brooch
Collection of gold buttons
Breitling watch

Dressed like a princess, Julia Roberts reaches eagerly for the necklace. Who can blame her? It's a mouth-watering piece of jewellery, just the right colour for her lovely red dress and just the right shape for her remarkably long neck. Then Richard Gere snaps the box shut on her gloved fingers. This playful moment is one of the highpoints of Pretty Woman (1990). Famously, it was filmed for the film's gag reel but it worked so well that it made the final cut. Less famously, the necklace was genuine.

According to movie trivia sites, the jewellers who provided the necklace hired an armed security guard to protect it during filming.

The necklace was made of 23 heart-cut rubies interlaced with diamonds and designed by Fred Samuel (1908-2006), who made it specifically for the film. Originally from Buenos Aires, Samuel established his Parisian jewellery brand in 1936. The name Samuel was removed from the brand by the Nazis, who liked Fred's jewellery but not his Jewish origins. After the Second World War, the brand became known as Fred Paris Joaillier. More often, it's simply known as "Fred".

"In France he's very famous," says Claire-Laurence Mestrallet, jewellery specialist at Adam's. There are two pieces by Fred in the auction of Fine Jewellery and Watches, which takes place at Adam's on Tuesday.

One of these is a stylised leopard brooch (est €1,200 to €1,800, main photo above) with textured fur, black enamel spots, and slanting emerald and diamond eyes. It's mounted in 18K gold and signed Fred Paris. "It's bigger than you'd expect," says Mestrallet. "It's definitely an evening piece - smart and wearable - and would look wonderful on a long black cashmere coat. It's too big for a dress." The 6.2cm brooch, which dates from the 198os, is one of several leopard pieces by Fred, designed as part of a collection that includes a bangle and a ring.

Signed jewellery, like these pieces, generally carries the name of the jewellery house or maker, engraved on the underside of the piece or the inside of a ring.

According to Christie's jewellery specialist David Warren, a signature from one of the top designers can add between 50pc and 300pc to the value of the piece. His collector's guide to signed jewellery mentions a 1920s bracelet that had been estimated between £8,000 and £12,000. Then, he spotted a very faded signature, possibly the "Van" of Van Cleef and Arpels. The Parisian jewellery house confirmed that it was its piece and was able to date it precisely. It sold for £250,000.

"When a piece is signed, you know that you have the quality and that they will have used the good stones," Mestrallet says. "It's an assurance."

The Italian jewellery house Pederzani is less well-known but the family firm has been making jewellery in Milan since 1942 and there are two signed pieces in the sale. One is a diamond and sapphire ring designed as a coiled snake and mounted in 18K gold (est €12,000 to €14,000). The other is a collection of 18 gold buttons (est €1,800 to €2,200, pictured above). Six are blazer buttons, 12 are shirt button, all are made in 18K gold, and each is signed by Pederzani. "I wasn't surprised to learn that an Italian jewellery house made those buttons... You'd have to be very rich to lose a button made of 18K gold," Mestrallet comments. Viewing commences tomorrow and continues through Tuesday until the auction at 6pm. See

In the Salerooms

John Weldon  Auctioneers

Breitling watch

The Breitling Navitimer strap watch was first introduced in 1952 with a circular sliderule that enabled pilots to make aeronautical calculations. Now, aeroplanes make these calculations automatically, but people still love the Navitimer which can do all sorts of clever stuff.

A gent's Breitling Navitimer World GMT strap watch with box and papers (est €2,800 to €3,200, above) is coming up for sale at John Weldon Auctioneers on Tuesday. Potential top lots in the sale include a diamond single stone ring (est €40,000 to €50,000) and an antique diamond necklace (est €18,000 to €22,000).

"This is one of those pieces which sadly spends most of its life in its box, which is not what jewellery is about. It is a stunning piece, but it's not for popping down to Tesco," Weldon says. Viewing from tomorrow until the sale when the auction begins at 2pm. See

Lev Mitchell

Patrick James Carroll opened the first tobacco shop in Dundalk in 1824 and, in 1889, the company introduced the Mick McQuaid brand. Known as a character from The Shamrock magazine in the 1880s, a drawing of Mick appeared on the company's tobacco tins and adverts in the 1920s.

A Mick McQuaid tobacco figure (est €400 to €600) from PJ Carroll's, Dundalk, is one of a number of historic advertisements coming up at Milltown Country Auction Rooms, Dundalk, on Monday at 12 noon.

The auction is conducted in conjunction with Lev Mitchell & Sons and also includes a Goulding's Manures advertising clock (est €800 to €1,200); a Players Navy Cut advertising box (est €100 to €150); and a Cowan's Whiskey Dundalk advertising picture (est €100 to €200). Viewing from tomorrow. The catalogue and live bidding is available on

Matthew's Auctioneers

Fancy a piece of architectural history? The clearance sale of Five Acre Architectural Salvage & Antiques Yard, 326 South Circular Road, Dublin, takes place from May 18 to May 24, beginning at 11.30am each day. The sale is conducted by Matthew's Auctioneers in conjunction with Stephen Ryan and includes 33 cast iron columns, riveted steel beams and doors from the Boland's Mill (of 1916 fame); the original armoury doors of Clancy Barracks; trusses and stained glass windows from the demolished church at St James' hospital and a Victorian church pulpit. Viewing begins on Tuesday. See

Antiques & Vintage Fairs

Hibernian Antiques & Vintage Fairs takes place at Carrigaline Court Hotel, Carrigaline, Co Cork, on Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

Dealers include Danker Antiques, Dublin; Treasures Irish Art, Athlone; and Matthew Weldon, Dublin.

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