ART TO WEAR JEWELRY by ERTE
©Viga Boland 2016
(modified from an original article by Viga Boland published on the Ruby Lane Blog in 2013)
The beautiful ring fascinated me! I’d never been all that much into Mother of Pearl, but I’d always loved amethysts and diamonds, and this 14k gold ring had all three. It had been labelled “Erte” and “CFA” but neither of those were familiar to me. Yet I couldn’t walk away from that beautiful, somewhat unusual ring. I had to buy it!
As I found out after doing some research, I had purchased the “Clair De Lune”, one of the most popular rings in the limited editions of “Art to Wear” jewelry by Romain de Tirtoff, a Russian artist, painter, illustrator and sculptor. Erte is considered by many to be “The Father of Art Deco”. Romain, whose initials shortened to create the name he became known by, ERTE, ran off to Paris at the age of 20 to pursue his dreams of becoming an artist in 1912. Under the tutelage of a famous fashion designer, Erte’s designs brought him recognition in major fashion circles. Eventually, he moved to the US where his marvellous illustrations capturing the beauty of the female form were featured constantly inside and on the front covers of Harper’s Bazaar.
When it was suggested that Erte’s fabulous drawings would make some gorgeous jewelry, Erte, always a forward thinker agreed, but it was no easy task to render his artwork into wearable pieces. The designs were so intricate and Erte was fussy. He had to have only the best diamonds and gemstones and that often proved difficult to acquire. Eventually, he allowed his “Art To Wear” jewelry to be produced by the Circle of Fine Art (CFA) and the first of Erte’s magnificent jewelry began to appear in 1979 in very limited editions, which today are highly collectible, valuable and more often than not, expensive.
Since acquiring that first ring, I have become totally enthralled with Erte’s “Art to Wear”. I purchased the large hardcover book titled “Erte: Art to Wear” and have poured over every page, showing some of his original designs and art on which the jewelry is based. I’ve also located some wonderful articles online showing his superb skills as a painter, illustrator and sculptor. What magnificent work! Over the past 3 years I have spent hours…and many dollars…locating and purchasing Erte jewelry. I have now amassed quite a collection, quite a feat considering it’s not easy to find these original limited edition pieces.
For Erte, who was still designing in his 90‘s, jewelry always had a purpose beyond mere beauty. For instance, the “Alouette”, ring is meant to capture a lark, soaring to the skies in the early morning. The Mother of Pearl is the moon; the diamonds are the stars and the topaz emulate the sky.
As one studies Erte’s jewelry, especially the rings, one sees much use of the sharply tapered, long designs, as in the Peacock and Plume Rings. Those tapered designs are based on bird feathers and Erte had a great love and fascination with birds, and especially admired the Peacock. One of the loveliest pieces I have purchased, but have since sold are Erte’s “Fantasy” earrings, again based on birds with long plumage. These incredible earrings contain diamonds and rubies. Aren’t they exquisite? According to the book, the Fantasy series had either rubies or sapphires; the La Mer series featured amethysts, madeira citrine, blue topaz and/or onyx.
If owning a piece of Erte jewelry appeals to you, be diligent in your search. You will find online many pieces that are quite affordable, but realize that, as with so many famous designers, reproductions are now flooding the market. The price alone should make you question whether you are buying an original Erte. The originals will have both the Erte signature and ©CFA along with the gold carat used.
And while you’re online searching, do look up Erte’s illustrations and drawings too. They are simply amazing! I’ve fell in love with Erte’s work and jewelry, and branched out in my collecting a couple of years ago to his bronze statues. Now those are something else again, very expensive, but oh so valuable and collectible. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll tell you about some I own and include photos. Prepare to be amazed.
Where can you buy Erte’s Art to Wear Jewelry at reasonable prices and be assured of its authenticity? DIVINE FINDS JEWELRY at RUBY LANE.