Gem of an idea: Sotheby’s and Dover Street Market take a funny turn

Emerald and diamond bracelet,
Emerald and diamond bracelet, attributed to Chaumet (1930s). Artwork by Sammy Slabbinck. Courtesy of Michel Hoppen Gallery
(Image credit: Sammy Slabbinck)

Dover Street Market’s curation of Tuesday’s Sotheby’s ‘Fine Jewels’ sale is a tantalising symbiotic edit that celebrates their shared art appreciation. DSM’s vice president Dickon Bowden and jewellery director Mimi Hoppen have chosen 16 incongruous pieces from over 370 lots, which are now on view in Sotheby’s Galleries. Sotheby’s windows also bring the sale to life with a series of large-scale artwork by Belgian collage artist Sammy Slabbinck, also commissioned by DSM.

Slabbinck’s distorted images fuse modernity and tradition in works that fully reflect the essence of the collaboration. By super-imposing jewellery pieces from the edit into out-of-context situations, the images are mischievously off-kilter and brilliantly tongue-in-cheek. By using vintage-photographs as a backdrop for the jewels, everything takes on a surreal quality: ‘I like to play around with humour and exaggeration,' confirms Slabbinck. ‘The main goal here was to present these pieces in a fun and different way. I put the jewellery in a different setting, but it is one that also highlights their inherent beauty and quality.’

The droll nature of the artwork reflects some of the pieces in the edit, which also delight in contradiction. A Georges Braque ring for Heber de Lowenfeld subverts a traditional signet ring with a whimsical profile; a stag beetle in tourmaline and diamonds is a sumptuous take on an intimidating little beast. Other pieces are culturally significant: a travel watch, designed by Paul Flato as an envelope and presented to Ginger Rogers from Fred Astaire is slyly playful, while the spectacular ‘Toi et Moi' ring, which belonged to Adele Bloch-Bauer, the model immortalised in Klimt’s Woman in Gold (1903-1907), cuts a presciently contemporary silhouette. 

Pair of tortoiseshell and diamond haircombs,

Pair of tortoiseshell and diamond haircombs, Chaumet (1900)

(Image credit: Sammy Slabbinck)

Left, diamond ring. Artwork by Sammy Slabbinck

Left, diamond ring. Artwork by Sammy Slabbinck, Courtesy Michel Hoppen Gallery. Right, tourmaline and diamond stag beetle brooch

(Image credit: Sammy Slabbinck)

Hair clips, Van Cleef & Arpels

Pair of diamond brooches/hair clips, Van Cleef & Arpels (1960s)

(Image credit: Sammy Slabbinck)


Dover Street Market’s ’Fine Jewels’ edit is on view at Sotheby’s Galleries until 11 December. For more information, visit the Sotheby’s website and the Dover Street Market website


Sotheby's Galleries
31 St George St


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.