Sunday, November 13, 2011


A sleek herd of Cartier pachyderms from the 1990s belonging to a European family were one of the chief attractions in the Christie's Geneva Magnificent Jewels sales catalog this November. At the front of the necklace, diamond-studded elephants and offspring are linked in perpetual stride, while gold elephants shadow them. While the Cartier piece is undeniably snazzy, the motif also spoke to arts-and-crafts jeweler Gustav Manz, who observed and sketched wild elephants while prospecting for diamonds in South Africa, and opted to pay homage to their stately migrations in spare sterling silver (sometimes gilded) during the late 1920s.

Cartier necklace in upcoming Christie's Geneva sale ("Property of a European Family") and Gustav Manz hinged sterling cuff bracelet from a descendant's collection (photo Joe Gold)

An animalier sculptor in addition to being a master jeweler, Manz produced numerous animal-themed gem mountings for the trade—Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Theodore B. Starr, Marcus & Co among them. Some examples below along with a sketch from Manz's ledgers documents a platinum and diamond-studded elephant brooch, sold to Cartier in 1925.

Production notes and sketch from Gustav Manz's ledgers for a diamond pave elephant brooch ("setting 80 dias @ 35-"), sold to Cartier in September 1925 (Gustav Manz archive, Winterthur Museum & Library). Above it, assorted Manz animal pins, including an elephant, designed for Black, Starr & Frost (image from Arts & Decoration, January 1926)

For more examples of Manz's jewelry check out other posts on this Blog and on Instagram 

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