September 23, 2023


Singularly dandy shopping

Modernist jewellery sparkles in Crebbin collection

Roy King was another of Britain’s famed jewellers (his clients included The Beatles and Tom Jones), and he too played with the texture of precious metal. A gold and diamond necklace by King, from circa 1960, is so finely woven that it moves like a piece of fabric and wraps delicately around the neck. The necklace is estimated at $8000 to $12,000.

Roy King, gold and diamond necklace, circa 1960, from the collection of Joan Crebbin, being sold by Bonhams on August 9, with an estimate of $8000 to $12,000. 

At the other extreme is a Roy Edwards tourmaline and gold ring with a striking industrial feel featuring a colonnade of polished gold rods surrounding the gemstone. The ring has an estimate of $3000 to $5000.

“Roy Edwards is well-known in the UK and his pieces rarely come up for auction,” says Frith.

Rod Edwards, tourmaline and gold ring, circa 1969, from the collection of Joan Crebbin, being sold by Bonhams on August 9, with an estimate of $3000 to $5000. 

Although synonymous with British jewellery, Edwards was born in Australia and studied sculpture and design at East Sydney Technical College, now the National Art School. He moved to England in 1954 and became a jewellery apprentice, training in all technical aspects of the craft. His work was shown at the ground-breaking international Exhibition of Modern Jewellery in 1961, held at Goldsmith’s Hall in London, and his work is held in collections including that of the National Museums of Scotland and Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

The work of another influential British jeweller, Andrew Grima, loved by English society and the Royals (the late Princess Margaret was a fan) is also in Crebbin’s collection, including a diamond-set gold brooch, from 1964, of starburst design, which has an estimate of $3000 to $5000.

Georg Jensen, sterling silver hinged cuff, from the collection of Joan Crebbin, being sold by Bonhams on August 9, with an estimate of $800 to $1200. 

Crebbin acquired many pieces from celebrated Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, and 24 lots are featured in this sale, including a chunky, kinetic sterling silver hinged cuff, with an estimate of $800 to $1200.

Joan Crebbin died two years ago, aged 94, and Bonhams is selling 64 lots of her jewellery, representing the majority of her collection, save for a few pieces that her three children are retaining. The Crebbins were all-round lovers of art and design, and lived in a Walter Burley Griffin-designed home in the Sydney harbour-side suburb of Castlecrag, which was also designed by Griffin, best known as the architect of Canberra.

Diamond and platinum bracelet, being auctioned by Bonhams on August 9, with an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. 

Dick Crebbin, who died in 1989, was a founding director of Marrickville Holdings, which produced brands including Miracle Margarine and ETA Peanut Butter. He was also an art administrator, appointed chairman of the interim council of the Australian National Gallery in 1974, under the Whitlam Government, and becoming the first chairman of the permanent council under the Fraser Government.

In all, the Bonhams auction features 218 lots, with a total estimate of $590,000 to $890,000. The most expensive piece (from a private Melbourne collector) is a $30,000 to $50,000 platinum and diamond bracelet. The sale will be live in Sydney on Tuesday, August 9, and broadcast online.

Diamond bracelet, Graff, circa 2008, being sold at Smith and Singer next Wednesday night with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. 

First up though is Smith & Singer’s 119-lot jewellery auction next Wednesday night. The $1.5 million to $2.2 million auction contains some show-stopping pieces, none more so than the sale’s cover lot, a diamond bracelet by British jewellers, Graff. From circa 2008, the bracelet features a small mine of dazzlers weighing about 42 carats in total, and has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.

“What people love is jewellery that is wearable and does not date and something like this cuff is absolutely fabulous, for the right client obviously,” says Smith & Singer chairman Geoffrey Smith. “It’s totally classic and has a contemporary edge to it, but it’s also universal in the way it can be presented. It’s that kind of Wonder Woman idea of putting on your cuff and getting out there and doing what you want to do!”

‘Disc’ bracelet, designed by Marck Newson, circa 1983, being sold at Smith and Singer next Wednesday night with an estimate of $1500 to $2000. 

For superheroes on a tighter budget, there’s an astonishingly bold, minimal and somewhat dangerous-looking “disc” bracelet by acclaimed Australian designer, Marc Newson. From circa 1983, the bracelet is 14 cm in diameter, made of flattened aluminium, and has an estimate of $1500 to $2000.

A small “pod” wristwatch designed by Newson in 1987 has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It too is strikingly spare and features a stainless-steel dial with a black rubber strap. Both designs were exhibited at the Marc Newson – Design Works, at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum from August 2001 to February 2002.

Small ‘pod’ wristwatch, designed by Marc Newson, circa 1987, being sold at Smith & Singer with an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. 

“They are early, rare items and of course Marc Newson is one of the great international designers … we are quite excited about both pieces,” says Smith.

Patek Philippe Celestial wristwatch, circa 2009, being sold at Smith and Singer next Wednesday night with an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. 

A Patek Philippe, 18-carat gold “Celestial” wristwatch, is substantially more costly and complex. With an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000, the watch, from circa 2009, is the auction’s most expensive lot, and tracks not just the time but also the phases and position of the moon, and the progression of stars relative to the meridian passage of Sirius. It’s an astronomical powerhouse of analogue watches, as you’d expect at that price.

For those who prefer to create their own designs, Smith points to a quartet of loose diamonds, consigned from a deceased estate, which range from $7000 to $10,000 at their lower estimates.

“They are gorgeous,” Smith says. “We have a lot of clients who are buying an engagement ring and they will try something on and they don’t like the style of the ring or it doesn’t quite fit, so here you can make your own ring.”

One of a quartet of loose diamonds, with low estimates ranging from $7000 to $10,000, being sold at Smith & Singer. 

Or a superhero cuff, with four super diamonds. The possibilities are joyfully infinite.