This mesmerising Belle Époque bracelet in platinum by Maison Fonsèque et Olive is the embodiment of a perfectly structured universe of nine decrescent diamond galaxies. A total of 288 diamonds swirl around nine central old mine brilliant cut diamonds, each creating a blazing supernova of light. Gravity is a weak force compared to our human attraction to this otherworldly jewel in a continuum of spectacle without any disturbance of clasps or closures.
Antique jewelry object group: flexible bracelet/bangle
Country of origin: Although it does not carry any legible control marks we believe this to be of French origin.
Style: Belle Époque with Art Nouveau influences - The Belle Époque (French for "Beautiful Era") was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the time of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, the "Belle Époque" was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "golden age" the major powers of Europe, new technologies improved lives and the commercial arts adapted Renaissance and eighteenth-century styles to modern forms. In the newly rich United States, emerging from the Panic of 1873, the comparable epoch was dubbed the Gilded Age. In the United Kingdom, this epoch overlaps the end of what is called the Victorian Era there and the period named the Edwardian Era. Art Nouveau
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Style specifics: Although Art Nouveau took on distinctly localised tendencies as its geographic spread increase some general characteristics are indicative of the form. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist's wall-hanging Cyclamen (1894) described it as "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip", which became well known during the early spread of Art Nouveau.
Subsequently, not only did the work itself become better known as The Whiplash, but the term "whiplash" is frequently applied to the characteristic curves employed by Art Nouveau artists. Such decorative "whiplash" motifs, formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm, are found throughout the architecture, painting, sculpture, and other forms of Art Nouveau design.(from: Wikipedia)
Period: ca. 1900
(events and facts in 1900)
Material: platinum and a little bit of yellow gold that is used under the center stone of each link.
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Diamonds: The nine big old mine brilliant cut diamonds with a total estimated weight of approx. 3.40 crt. and 155 old mine brilliant cut diamonds with a total estimated weight of approx. 3.80 crt. and 124 rose cut diamonds . We do not have the weight of the diamonds which is normal in our trade when it comes to rose cuts.
Note: All diamond weights, color grades and clarity are approximate since the stones were not removed from their mounts to preserve the integrity of the setting.
Total diamond weight: approx. 7.20 crt. (without the rose cut diamonds)
Birthstones: Diamond is the birthstone (or month stone) for April.
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Extra information: This very bracelet is depicted in the "Bible of Antique Jewelry" namely the English translation of Henri Vever's "French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century" on page 1025. Flexible gem-set bracelets designed by Emile Olive. In: Henri Vever (2001). French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century, page 1025. Thames & Hudson Ltd, London. ISBN 0-500-23784-0
Hallmarks: No trace of a real hallmark. Although we see the number 750 struck in the back of the closure; this could perhaps indicate the gold alloy (there is a bit of gold used in it) or an internal number or perhaps something a later jeweler struck into it just to assure his customers. But we did not find the original French hallmarks.
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Designer: Emile Olive
Vever writes the following about designer Emile Olive (1853-1902):
Emile Olive (1853-1902) succeeded Le Saché as designer in Falize's firm. An artist of lively intelligence and infinite taste, he spent thirty years applying body and soul to our beloved art. It is obvious that Olive's gift for geometry was hardly appreciated by his father, an accountant, since he sent him to work with a cheese and bean seller in Rue de la Verrerie. Such an environment seemed hardly likely to foster the development of an artistic vocation. However the young man felt such a need to draw and had such a hightly developed sense of decoration that he even found curious ornamental motifs in the stains and fissures of the the old shop walls and in the mould on the cheeses of his employer!
These youthful talents later enabled him to become one of the most eminent pupils of the Ecole des Art Décoratifs run by M.Louvrier de Lajollais, who was particularly fond of him and they remained friends.
The food trade did not suit him any better than the banking which his father had wished upon him. His uncle Larchevêque, a jewelry manufacturer, took him into his firm and he stayed there until 1873. He then joined Otterbourg,specifically to help with the pieces the firm was submitting to the Vienna exhibition. His designs were noticed for their inventiveness and taste, to the extent that when he presented himself to Falize for the designer's post left vacant by Le Saché, he was immediately taken on.
Art held a prominent place in the firm; Olive gave free rein to his talent, which further developed under the guidance of a master like Lucien Falize. He collaborated on many of the pieces that won richly deserved succes for the famous goldsmith at the 1878 Exposition. He also designed many fascinating objects for him during the ten years he spent with Falize. Diamonds and other gemstones played only a minor role in Olive's work since his personal preference was for enamelling and chasing. Olive left Falize in 1885 to form a partnership with M.Fonsèque, a long-standing friend and an excellent manufacturing jeweler. However, Falize valued his former collaborator's personal qualities to such an extent that Olive married one of his family friends in 1887
It was around this time that Olive collaborated on work MM.Vever was submitting to the 1889 Exposition. This included a clock in the Renaiisance taste, a missal decorated with basse-taille enamels and various chased pieces. Olive also created the majority of the designs that contributed to the success of the Fonsèque et Olive firm. Omaong these was the 'coffee bean' brooch of 1885, the case of which complemented the jewel by representing a coffee husk. Another was the 'grapes' brooch of 1889, which was displayed in a miniature case of Chasselas de Fontainebleau wine. Both these jewels enjoyed considerable popularity for several years. He also launched the medal-jewel in 1886 with Vernier's Diane. The revival of medaillist's art in France has resulted in the enduring success of this type of ornament. Olive also created many attractive and inspired designs for gem-set jewelry including brooches, bracelets, and necklaces, which were consistently admired.
Olive was captivated by art in all its manifestations; he loved books, prints and trinkets that he collected as far as his circumstances allowed. He wrote and spoke with great wit, and his lively and original repartee made him a popular conversationalist. One of the most talented of artists, a congenial and entertaining colleague.
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