Dame Vera Lynn Jewellery to be Sold in Aid of Charity

A number of pieces of Dame Vera Lynn’s jewellery are to be sold by auction in aid of charity at Toovey’s Washington salerooms in West Sussex on Wednesday 16th March 2022.

Over many years I have admired and supported Dame Vera Lynn and the the work of her Charitable Trust.

During the Second World War Dame Vera was known as the Forces Sweetheart, a singer of undoubtable talent she became an icon of hope in the face of the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges of the Second World War.

In recent days there has been an almost tangible, sharp, intake of breath across a world shocked by Vladimir Putin’s actions. Against the backdrop of courageous protests in his own country Putin has brought his will and the Russian military machine to bear on Ukraine and her people waging war in Europe.

Dame Vera Lynn was always outward facing and generous using her gifts to make a difference to people’s lives, especially in the communities she was passionate about – those who served their country bravely in our Armed Forces, children with disabilities, and of course more recently those she described as ‘the silent soldiers’ in our marvellous NHS. It was a generous example.

It is that ability to press on, to do what is right in the service of others where we stand that gives dignity and purpose to our lives whether our inspiration is sacred or secular. And the more of us who actively choose this path the more evil is pushed back and hope is restored.

Dame Vera Lynn’s large diamond set heart shaped pendant locket being sold to benefit the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust

The heart remains one of the definitive symbols of love and amongst the items entered for sale from the collection is a large late Victorian diamond set heart shaped pendant locket pavé set with old cut diamonds. It was during the Victorian period that the popularity of heart shaped jewellery really reached its heights influenced by the tastes of Queen Victoria. Dame Vera’s locket is a fine example. The smaller diamonds accentuate the principle stone at its centre within a shimmering field. The back is glazed and hinged with a locket compartment. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £7000-£10000.

Alongside the pendant locket are a number of rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches from her collection.

Dame Vera Lynn and her husband Harry Lewis

Speaking to Vera Lynn’s daughter, Ginny, about the sale she said “Mummy’s jewellery reflected points of love in her life. Her charitable work was very precious to her too, so it is very fitting that the pieces of jewellery we have entered for auction at Toovey’s will benefit the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust.” Through her life, work and the legacy of the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust Vera Lynn remains an icon of hope.

To be notified as soon as the illustrated online catalogue goes live this weekend register at www.tooveys.com/auction-alerts or visit www.tooveys.com/online-catalogue.

Jewellery: A Valentine’s Expression of Love

This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day and thoughts will have turned to jewellery as an expression of love.

Amongst current must have jewels are brooches. Over many years brooches fell from fashion but in recent times they have enjoyed a remarkable revival with rising demand and prices.

All the brooches here were sold at Toovey’s and entries are still being accepted for the next sale of fine jewellery on 16th March 2022.

My favourite of all the brooches I have seen in recent times was the beautifully contrived varicoloured, naturalistic pearl and diamond vine leaf spray brooch which made £4200. Pearls and half pearls became highly prized for their delicate sheen which perfectly suited the pale colours and the soft silks of the dresses of the 1890s. The fashion for pearls was widespread across Europe and women wore brooches with pearls and sprays of diamonds in various designs.

In the second half of the 19th century the jewellery industry flourished in England. Queen Victoria became an important influence on fashion. Her jewels, in particular, were carefully copied by the Court and broader Victorian society. Intimate, sentimental jewellery was greatly favoured and worn in abundance.

From the 1860s through to the 1880s the fashion for Greek, Etruscan, and Egyptian art influenced jewellery production not only in shape but also in design. Engraving and tracing disappeared in favour of contrasts between shiny and matt surfaces encrusted with filigree and granulation as can be seen in the decoration of the oval, gold brooch with its central scarab beetle motif in the Egyptian taste. It realised £1300.

From the 1860s stars were amongst the most common decorative motifs. Many lockets, brooches and bracelets had a pearl, diamond or enamel star at their centre as can be seen in the classical revival turquoise enamel and diamond set brooch which fetched £2400.

In the 1890s ladies’ fashion changed and sought to enhance rather than alter a woman’s natural figure. This new fashion brought with it yards of flimsy materials such as laces and tulle, draped and ruched on the bodice. Jewellery, and brooches in particular, had to adapt to the new fashion and became lighter and smaller as a result. Small, light, diamond set star brooches appeared in large numbers to decorate the bodices of fashionable women like the one seen here which sold for £2400.

Brooches are again at the height of fashion and jewellery is a booming area for collectors, and of course remains an expression of love at Valentines.

The Art of Victorian Jewellery

A Victorian gold, diamond set brooch of floral and foliate spray design, circa 1880

From the mid-19th century an increasingly affluent middle class combined with a growing supply of gold and precious metals from California and Australia creating an explosion in demand for jewellery.

From the 1840s the classical world, Renaissance and the natural world continued to inspire jewellery designs which evolved to adorn the fashion of the times.

A mid-19th century circular gold, garnet and diamond brooch by the Neapolitan jeweller Giacinto Melillo, circa 1860

The small mid-19th century circular gold, garnet and diamond brooch is by the Neapolitan jeweller Giacinto Melillo. Melillo trained in the workshop of Alessandro Castellani. The Castellani workshop was famous for its copies of ancient jewellery. An inch in diameter this brooch was modelled on a typically classical design and realised £2200 at Toovey’s.

A Victorian gold and coral pendant brooch, circa 1860

From the 1860s, influenced by the fashion for décolletage neck lines, many brooches changed from horizontal to vertical axis designs. Coral was particularly fashionable between 1845 and 1865. The Victorian gold and pendant brooch measures some 3 ¼ inches. It, too, is classically inspired with its vertical design, classical amphora pendant drop and delicate applied wire work.

In contrast to the earlier corsets and crinolines from the late 19th century women’s fashion sought to enhance rather than alter the wearer’s figure employing softer materials. As a consequence brooches became smaller and lighter.

The Romantic Movement of the 1840s had stimulated designs in the forms of flowers and foliage. These designs remained popular throughout the second half of the 19th century. The late Victorian diamond set brooch is a typical example with its beautifully conceived scrolls. You can imagine it moving in a spring breeze as the light moves across the diamonds. It measured 2 ¼ inches.

Late 19th century Fin de siècle brooches of smaller, delicate design became popular. They were worn pinned to the lace and tulle draped around the décolletage. It did not matter whether the brooches matched, the fashion was for wearing numerous brooches at the same time.

A Victorian diamond and half pearl set pendant star brooch, circa 188

The late Victorian gold, diamond and half pearl set pendant brooch with its detachable brooch fitting measured just 1 ¾ inches. Its delicate design and scale is characteristic of the late 19th century.

Jewellery at its best adds to the beauty of the wearer and speaks across generations of love and precious moments in our human lives. These examples sold for £700, £1000 and £550 respectively. The appeal of jewellery is timeless.

Online has been an incredible blessing in these times with strong interest and prices for jewellery and across all the specialist auctions throughout lockdown. But nothing beats real life human encounters and we are now excitedly making preparations so that, ‘R’ number willing, we will be able to welcome you once again at the salerooms for valuations and auctions from the 12th April by appointment. Until then I look forward to seeing you for valuations online and at your homes.