Sotheby’s holds its very first online only jewelry sale with the designs of American icon of all things fabulous: Tony Duquette. The auction will take place from 18 through 30 August featuring extravagant creations by Duquette, encapsulating his versatile career from Hollywood sets to interior design.
Tony Duquette started his career in Los Angeles in the movie business. He created sets for the film industry, designing the glamorous Hollywood ethos. He worked with the great costume designer Adrian (Adrian Adolph Greenberg), with whom he won the Tony Award for Costume Design (for the original Broadway production of Camelot), before he expanded into designing jewelry.
His talent was discovered by prominent society lady, international style pundit and an interior designer herself, Elsie de Wolfe –also known as Lady Mendl with her married name- in the late 1930s. He designed interiors for actress Mary Pickform and champion wrestler Buddy Rogers, as well as jewelry and special furnishings for Lady Mendl.
His creations became highly popular in mainland Europe, earning him the title of the first American artist to hold a solo show at the Louvre.
Duquette served in the American Army during the Second World War. After his discharge from the army, and the liberation of Paris, he accompanied Sir Charles and Lady Mendl on their trip to Europe and was introduced to their friends on the old continent, including the Duchess of Windsor, for whom he designed a beautiful necklace, which was the start of an incredible jewelry line. His creations became highly popular in mainland Europe, earning him the title of the first American artist to hold a solo show at the Louvre.
Sotheby’s chose the motto “More is more” for this auction, which quite summarizes Duquette’s style. He found inspiration everywhere. “Venice, the natural Baroque, old movies, Renaissance architecture, Arthurian legends,” says Hutton Wilkinson, about his friend and business partner of 30 years, and adds “He felt insects had great style.” Duquette’s hallmark is not only color but size. He makes big pieces. When you have one piece of these statement jewelry, you don’t need to wear anything else.
Renown with his jewelry auction preview videos, Frank Everett, Senior Vice President and Sales Director at Sotheby’s explains some of the lots that catch the eye from the catalogue.
The mix of tiger eye and branch coral necklace above is one of the highlights of the auction. Duquette enjoys using semi precious stones in big and bold scale and create stunning and flashy pieces. The pearl and malachite brooch below represents pure American glamour and elegance. As Frank Everett says on his instagram post with this piece set professionally on a beautiful scarf: #thebroochisback.
Duquette was often inspired by the sea as seen on the pieces above, with abalone shells set with amethyst pieces. He has the ability to convert humble materials such as rough stones and seashells into gorgeous jewelry.
Similar to the design Duquette made for the Duchess of Windsor, this cabochon pink tourmaline necklace above is soft and feminine despite the bold size. Frank Everett finds it is also Renaissance inspired. The matching earrings feature pink rubies in center surrounded with pale pink amethyst. Both pieces carry the signs of the costumes and sets Duquette designed for the history films of 1940s.
This sculptural tourmaline ring above in the upper center showcases Duquette’s signature design of sunburst and starburst, and incorporated with the sea in the clear blue sparkles of the tourmaline. Duquette combines his style in interior design and Hollywood costume design in his jewelry.
His inspiration by the sea peaks in this sizable rock crystal studded with turquoise necklace. As Frank Everett puts it: “It looks as if you could have found it at the beach.”
This auction awaits the woman who has confidence, style and wants something really unique. It is also a good opportunity for new collectors of Duquette’s oeuvre, because it encapsulates his extravagant style while keeping the prices at an accessible level.
All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s.