Jewels and the Woman
Works by Marianne Ostier in Rago’s April Fine Jewelry Auction
29 March 2016
Certain names are synonymous with fine jewelry. David Webb, Cartier, Tiffany - these are the ‘honor guards’ of the jewelry auction world and anywhere you find gavels and gemstones, you’ll likely find these manufactures. Rago’s April Fine Jewelry Auction is happy to represent fine and antique jewelry from these and other well-known makers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Schlumberger.
While it’s always a treat to witness works by these designers come up for sale, it can be even more exciting to see lesser known designers cross the auction block.
Fortunately, our April Fine Jewelry Auction has a thread of the unexpected woven into the usual offerings. Included among the 395 lots on offer is an important collection of mid-20th century pieces by award-winning jeweler Marianne Ostier.
The Ostiers were jewelers to the Austrian court, famed for generations. Upon marrying into the Ostier family, Marianne, a gifted painter and sculptor, began applying her talents to the craft of jewelry. She became the driving creative force behind Ostier, Inc.
Ostier's designs were largely informed by the lessons she learned as an artist and sculptor. Her background in the arts allowed her to manipulate light, color and movement like tangible mediums. Marianne was interested in jewelry not as simple adornment, but as means to enhance a wearer’s natural beauty. In 1962 she wrote “Jewels and the Woman; The Romance, Magic and Art of Feminine Adornment,” a comprehensive guide to selecting and wearing jewelry that could be described as a kind of “Joy of Cooking” for jewelry.
Most of Ostier's jewelry were bespoke one-offs that never went into production. While this ‘custom design’ philosophy resulted in a design catalog unlike any other, it may have also contributed to her relative obscurity. Whatever the reasons why Ostier's designs never ‘caught on’ in the broader art market, we find recognizing the mastery of her work to be a no brainer. We explore three of her designs up for sale in our April Fine Jewelry Auction below.
Lot 2508: A pearl and diamond necklace by Marianne Ostier, designed as three concentric strands of cultured saltwater pearls joined by wild rose diamond and platinum motifs and completed by two concentric pearl strands. In her book “Jewels and the Woman” stated that “the pearl is the only one of the five gems that is the product of life. It gives body to the eternal paradox that out of evil springs good; out of deformity, beauty.” It is no surprise then that the pearl, with its natural luster and soft glow, was considered by Ostier to be the jeweled embodiment of femininity.
The pearls of this exquisite necklace sit together, unknotted, creating a continuous line of creamy white, emphasizing the beauty of the feminine neck and providing a soft contrast to the jaw line it illuminates. Lot 2508 is, in many ways, the pinnacle of Marianne Ostier’s aesthetic in material, construction and design: a work of adornment made for a woman, by a woman.
Lot 2502: A pair of diamond and platinum ear clips, each set with 11 round, marquise or pear shaped diamonds in minimally visible prong settings. Earrings were of particular importance to Marianne Ostier. She felt that “among the various articles of adornment that a woman can acquire, the one that can make the most startling changes in her appearance is the ear clip.” She goes on to explain that one’s choice of earrings “must depend not upon the attractiveness of the jewel but upon the effect it has in ameliorating the facial features.”
The delicate arrangement of diamonds on display in lot 2502 is designed to hug the earlobe, gracefully conforming to the ear in one upswept spray, and to conceal much of the ear. Perhaps most evident in lot 2502 is Marianne Ostier's rigorous attention to emphasizing a woman’s best and most attractive features through jewelry design, which contributes significantly to the incredible wearability of her pieces.
Lot 2531: Two complimentary works by Marianne Ostier; a brooch and upswept ear clips of overlapping textured 18k gold disks accented by round brilliant-cut diamonds. These designs represent a break from Ostier's more traditional pieces and speaks to her training as an artist and sculptor. In these pieces, she blurs the line between the figurative and the abstract to create a design that is both lovely and representative of her artistic training and sensibilities. Lot 2531 is evidence of her ability to innovate in modern design, while still being practical; these pieces are versatile, comfortable and attractive when worn.
See more designs by Marianne Ostier here or in person during our ‘Dames n Diamonds’ jewelry preview party from 4-6pm on April 9 where visitors will be afforded the opportunity to view, handle, and try on all of the sumptuous jewelry going to auction in our April Fine Jewelry Auction.
Open previews will also be hosted from April 9 through April 12from 12-5pm, and on April 13 from 12-7pm.