Fashion / Style File

A Design Icon’s Coveted Bejeweled Masterpieces Go Up For Auction in an Online First

BY // 08.11.16

Every generation produces its share of tastemakers, but few have influenced design over the decades like Tony Duquette.

Discovered in the late 1930s by legendary society decorator Elsie de Wolfe, who took him under her wing, Duquette went on to orchestrate lavish movie, theater, and ballet sets and costumes — he won a Tony for costume design for the Broadway production of Camelot — and was the first American to receive a solo exhibition at the Louvre in Paris.

He created fantastical interiors for Greta Garbo, J. Paul Getty, and an Irish castle for Elizabeth Arden. His unorthodox combination of periods, materials, and a daring use of colors and volume translated into his jewelry designs, with Collier-style necklaces, wide bracelets with gargantuan gems, sculptural cocktail rings, and earrings accented with gilded sunbursts.

Famously, the Duke of Windsor commissioned a necklace in 1951 by Duquette for the duchess, an 18K gold floral wreath set with citrines, tourmalines, and mabe pearls. At the time, only platinum jewelry was worn after 5 pm, but the duchess wore her gold Duquette necklace to many evening events, launching a trend that has never abated.

You’ll have a chance to own a bejeweled Duquette masterpiece at Sotheby’s timed online sale, Tony Duquette Jewelry Online, from Thursday, August 18 to Tuesday, August 30. Thirty-two fabulous Duquette creations are offered for sale, including necklaces, brooches, rings, and earrings. It’s Sotheby’s first online-only auction, which will operate similar to an eBay auction.

Look for Duquette’s signature bold designs made from branch coral; tiger’s eye; amethyst; abalone shell; gold sunbursts with pearls and malachite; rock crystal; turquoise; diamonds; rubies; and a cabochon pink tourmaline necklace vaguely reminiscent of the one he created for the Duchess of Windsor.

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