Details
Comprising a gold serpent link chain, a bracelet watch with concealed dial, a pair of clip brooches convertable for use with serpent chain as bracelet and necklace, a further clip brooch convertable for use as a belt, a ring, a pair of earrings, circa 1938 and a pair of tortoiseshell mounted hair combs
STONES: circular-cut rubies, circular and cushion-cut sapphires, cushion-cut yellow sapphires, circular-cut diamonds
SIGNATURE: watch: dial signed Van Cleef & Arpels; clip brooches: detachable fitting signed Van Cleef & Arpels; ring: signed VCA NY
MARKS: chain: French marks; clip brooches: French marks; detachable fitting no. 51285; clip brooch no. 51285
SIZE/DIMENSIONS: chain with extension 75.0 cm; watch 16.0 cm; clip brooches 7.0 cm; clip brooch 4.2 cm; ring size F ½ with integrated sizing hoop
GROSS WEIGHT: 442.0 grams
This lot incorporates material from endangered species which could result in export restrictions.
Provenance
Given as a wedding gift to the vendor’s grandmother in 1939 and thence by descent.
Literature
Cf. M. Petit, Van Cleef & Arpels: Reflections of Eternity, Paris, Éditions Cercle d'Art, 2006, plate nos. 204-206 for a necklace, bracelet and earrings of the same design
Cf. Suzanne Tennenbaum and Janet Zapata, Jeweled Garden: A Colorful History of Gems, Jewels and Nature, The Vendome Press, New York, 2006, p. 121
Cf. Palais Galliera, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris, Éditions Paris-Musées, 1992, pp. 104 and 109 for a necklace of the same design
Cf. M. Serres, F. Cologni, J.-C. Sabrier and S. Kerman, Van Cleef & Arpels: The Poetry of Time, Paris, Éditions Cercle d'Art, 2009, plates nos. 139-141 for a wristwatch and a pair of earrings of the same design
Cf. S. Raulet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris, Éditions du Regard, 1986, p. 198 for a necklace of the same design
Cf. S. D. Coffin, Set in Style: The Jewellery of Van Cleef & Arpels, London, Thames & Hudson, 2011, pp. 78-79 for a bracelet and necklace of the same design
Special notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
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Lot Essay

It is rare to encounter such a comprehensive suite of ‘Passe-Partout’ jewellery and even more unusual that it has been in the same family since it was acquired around the time of its conception.

Patented in France on 8 August 1938 and in New York on 20 April 1939, the Passe-Partout design was one of the first transformative jewels created by Van Cleef & Arpels. It immediately appealed to the modern woman as it could be adapted to be worn in a number of ways to suit different clothes and situations. Usually formed from detachable blue and yellow flowerhead clusters with a ruby or coloured sapphire centre,  a hidden technical innovation in the form of a system of rails enables a flexible gold snake chain to slide in and out allowing the piece to transform into necklaces of different lengths, a bracelet and even a belt. This particular suite includes a ring, a pair of hair combs a bracelet watch and ear clips. This avant-garde design soon became a favourite of many stylish and prominent women including actress Paulette Goddard, wife of Charlie Chaplin, heiress Doris Duke and Hélène Arpels.

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