Auctions

One Collector’s Hemmerle Trove Is Up for Auction

AuctionsNov 25, 2019

One Collector’s Hemmerle Trove Is Up for Auction

The largest single-owner collection of Hemmerle jewels headlines Sotheby’s London jewelry auction.

Hemmerle’s antique jasper cameo pendant surrounded by emeralds and tsavorite garnets on a blackened silver chain is one of 12 pieces from a private collection to be offered at Sotheby’s London jewelry auction.

London—The ultimate holiday gift array for jewelry lovers is up for grabs this week, in the form of the largest single-owner Hemmerle collection ever offered at auction.

Hitting the block Tuesday at Sotheby’s jewelry auction in London, the collection features 12 one-of-a-kind jewels from the German jeweler, all amassed in the early 2000s by a European woman, the auction house said in a statement.

The fourth-generation-run jewelry house has garnered a cult fan base over its 120-plus years in business, with recent decades cementing its status as a boundary-pushing iconoclast, incorporating unusual jewelry-making materials like iron, antique artifacts and even acorns from New York’s Central Park into its roughly 200 piece-a-year repertoire.

In an interview with Sotheby’s, Christian Hemmerle said: “My dad never looked at materials by value. He just looked at beauty.

“He taught us to walk around with an open mind and get inspired. Obviously diamonds and rubies are more precious than tourmalines, but tourmalines can be just as beautiful.”

Even the most seemingly uncomplicated Hemmerle jewel tends to have an amazing backstory.

A multi-strand Sleeping Beauty turquoise necklace, for example, recently shown at TEFAF New York Fall, was the result of decades of collecting the gemstone from the now-closed Arizona mine.

Hemmerle was founded in 1893 in Munich by brothers Joseph and Anton Hemmerle.

No matter how innovative the materials or jewelry crafting techniques, the company hasn’t deviated from its utmost attention to quality and precision since its founding.


Four Hemmerle pieces on offer at Sotheby’s London Fine Jewels sale feature antique cameos, like the earring pictured here.

Every piece is crafted from start to finish in the company’s workshop.

Most pieces are touched by only two jewelers during the entire process, one for stone setting and another for everything else, down to achieving specific colorful shades of titanium.

Hemmerle’s retail practices also have barely changed in over a century; the sole Hemmerle store has occupied the same space in Munich since 1904.

The limited availability of Hemmerle jewels, which have enjoyed renewed enthusiasm from art- and jewelry-obsessed Americans since participating in the New York edition of TEFAF, is what makes the Sotheby’s collection so significant, the auction house said.

“Hemmerle jewels are a rare sight at auction and so it is a joy to be able to offer this unique single-owner collection,” Sotheby’s London Jewellery Department Head Kristian Spofforth said in a statement.

“We often see
clients collecting across the categories in our sales. The avant-garde designs of these jewels are sure to transcend the field of jewelry and appeal to seasoned collectors of fine art and contemporary design.”

Highlights of the sale include a pair of pineapple-shaped earrings featuring large gray and orange-brown colored old-mine-cut diamonds and 19th-century cameos.

One is agate depicting a Moorish woman, and the other is onyx depicting Maecenas, patron to poets Horace and Virgil.

Each cameo is surrounded by a diamond halo. They’re expected to sell for $24,600 to $36,900.

Estimated to go for between $18,500 and $24,600, a necklace with blackened silver chain and tsavorite garnets features as a pendant an early 19th century jasper cameo depicting Neptune, surrounded by emeralds and tsavorites.

Additional highlights include a pair of diamond brooches shaped as laurel branches that can also be worn as hair clips ($24,600 to $36,900) and a pair of spinel and pink sapphire earrings ($12,300-$18,500).

Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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