This week Paris played host to two significant auction sales for French art deco jeweler Raymond Templier. A third generation avant-garde jeweler whose modernist pieces can be found in museum collections around the world. His work is not widely know like other art deco jewelers, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels for example, whose diamond and gemstone jewelry invariably commands top dollar at auction. But when two unpretentious silver, gold and black lacquer bracelets by Raymond Templier hit unexpected hammer prices of 100,000€ each on a sleepy Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon in Paris, Mr. Templier got everyone’s attention.
The first auction was Christie’s Paris Jewels Sale on Tuesday November 25th. Raymond Templier's bracelet was in good company among a nice selection of pieces by fellow avant-garde jewelers René Boivin and Suzanne Belperron. The plat-du-jour was a signature “Feuille” demi-parure by Suzanne Belperron whose highly sought after jewelry has developed a massive cult following. The five piece set in chalcedony and diamonds realized 109,500€ (includes buyers premium), more than doubling the estimate of 40,000€ - 45,000€, as is expected for Belperron jewelry.
Christie’s pre-auction estimate for a 1927 silver, gold and black lacquer bracelet by Raymond Templier was between 10,000€ - 15,000€. To generate interest auction houses tend to list conservative estimates, but nobody in the room that day expected this bracelet to realize 10x that amount. The energy in the room was palpable as Marie-Laurence Tixier, head of the jewelry department for Christie's Paris, dropped the hammer at an impressive and unexpected price of 100,000€ (121,000€ with buyers premium) that caused quite a commotion among those in attendance.
The very next day, Thierry de Maigret held an auction at Drouot where a second bracelet from 1929 by Raymond Templier hit the auction block. This bracelet was very similar to the one that sold at Christie’s the day before, although slightly larger in size and with a lower pre-auction estimate of 8,000€ - 12,000€. Raymond Templier was among friends once again with lots by Suzanne Belperron, René Boivin and Jean Despres. The Paris sized auction salle was packed like sardines when the lot came up and everyone watched quietly as a second silver, gold and black lacquered bracelet by Raymond Templier hit another big hammer price of 100,000€. Wow!
To put things into perspective, a third bracelet by Raymond Templier sold at auction just a few weeks before at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Nobel Jewels sale in Geneva on November 12th. A knockout 1930’s bracelet of geometric composition in platinum and diamonds. This lot had a pre-auction estimate of 63,690€ - 95,122€ and came very close to Sotheby’s evaluation with a sale price of 113,319€ (includes buyers premium). From a technical perspective, this diamond bracelet is a much more significant piece of jewelry when compared side by side to the black lacquered pieces of silver and gold. Apples to apples it doesn't make any sense, leaving a lot of people scratching their heads (and laughing quietly in the back of the auction salle).
This frenzy could be just a lucky break for the seller, a jewelry hound willing to pay anything for their prize, or the beginning of a new cult following. Raymond Templier could easily be the next esoteric Parisian jeweler to enter the limelight (although most jewelry aficionados would agree that he earned his place long ago). Whatever the case may be, watch closely for new pieces to surface as a result of these latest auction sales. I can’t wait to see what the early collectors bring out from the corners of their vaults. Until then, if you’re in Paris and would like to see more jewelry by Raymond Templier, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs has an outstanding collection on permanent display in their fine jewelry gallery.
If you are interested in learning more about famous French jewelers like Raymond Templier, I invite you to check out my Paris Jewelry Tours.