René Lalique’s Thistle Brooch

By Sara Abey

Call me old fashioned, but I like my aquamarines to combine subtle greenish hues with their blue rather than the modern trend of liking them just to be blue. After all their name means sea water. What do you think?

René Lalique (1860 – 1945), a central figure in the art nouveau movement who began his vocation as a glass designer, probably would’ve agreed with me. A fine aquamarine forms the centre of this expressive thistle brooch made by him in Paris in about 1905.

Here Lalique has also sculpted glass into the pair of stylised thistles. The glass is coloured to resonate with the greenish-blue of the cushion-cut natural aquamarine. The glass thistles are encased in thorny stems worked in 18 carat gold with rose diamond highlights and blue and green enamel.

There are French assay marks in the reverse of the brooch.

In October 2006 Christie’s sold this brooch at the special auction “An Exceptional Collection of Art Nouveau Jewels” for US$ 228,000. Shortly afterwards it was given on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. I make no apologies about showing another brooch from this treasure house of a museum.