Famous estate jewelry leads off Michaan’s auction Nov. 10


French Van Cleef & Arpels diamond, emerald, 18K yellow gold lion’s head brooch. Michaan’s Auctions image

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Magnificent fine jewelry collected by a prominent Bay Area businesswoman, philanthropist and woman of style is offered at Michaan’s Auctions on Nov. 10. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

From the estate of Barbara Belle Brookins, the collection includes pieces by the world’s legendary jewelers: Van Cleef and Arpels, Bulgari, Cartier and Tiffany & Co. They were worn on many gala occasions by the late Barbara Belle Brookins of Belvedere, California, an elegant fixture on the San Francisco society scene who was also a pioneer in the field of finance. Ms. Brookins was the third woman in the U.S. to obtain a stock brokerage license.  She went on to lead Pyramid Savings and Loan as its president and CEO, the crowning achievement of her groundbreaking career.

Especially noteworthy is the 18K yellow gold lion’s head brooch (above) by Van Cleef and Arpels. The king of beasts is an enduring motif in jewelry design dating back to the Pharaohs and made a fitting accessory for a powerful, confident woman like Barbara Brookins. Encrusted throughout with fine diamonds and featuring pear-shaped emerald eyes, it is estimated at $8,000-$12,000. Also from Van Cleef and Arpels is the pair of ruby cabochon and diamond ear clips ($3,000-$5,000).

In the late 1970s Barbara Belle Brookins volunteered to raise funds for the San Francisco Symphony. She quickly rose to the top in that role as well, serving on the symphony’s board of governors from 1979 to 2016. She also established the Barbara Brookins Young Artists Fund, ensuring that emerging artists will continue to delight future symphony audiences.


Pair of Winston coral, diamond, 18K gold ‘Day into Night’ earrings. Michaan’s Auctions image

Opening night at the symphony is one of the most glamorous events in San Francisco. On many such nights over many years, society photographers captured the lovely image of Barbara Belle Brookins, in couture gowns and fabulous jewels, celebrating this annual kickoff to the SF social season. The enviable style of this inspiring woman sets the tone for Michaan’s November Gallery Auction, where over 40 lots of her estate jewelry will be presented by specialist Elise Coronado.

Bearing the foremost names in fine jewelry, these pieces boast timeless design as well as superb gemstones. A great favorite of the late Barbara Belle Brookins was the French luxury brand Van Cleef and Arpels, whose oval link bracelet (estimated at $20,000-$30,000) features more than 32 carats of shimmering round brilliant-cut diamonds set in 18k yellow gold. The dazzling ring by Van Cleef and Arpels centers a large pear-cut diamond surrounded by 40 round-cut diamonds in a platinum cluster setting ($12,000-$16,000).

A gorgeous pair of ear clips by Cartier features diamonds fashioned in a paisley design ($10,000-$15,000). Cartier’s exclusive “Maillon Panthère” necklace, designed as a series of brick links sculpted of 18k yellow gold, is offered at $4,000-$6,000. Another signature piece is the “Vannerie” necklace by Tiffany & Co. The 18K yellow gold flexible link necklace, customized by Tiffany for Brookins with over 10 carats of fine diamonds, is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.


Cartier ‘Maillon Panthere’ 18K yellow gold necklace. Michaan’s Auctions image

Bulgari, another of the world’s elite jewelers, was also favored by Barbara Belle Brookins. Her Bulgari oval-cut sapphire and diamond ring (below) is estimated at $4,000-$6,000. The 18K yellow gold fluted cuff bracelet by Bulgari is set with scores of diamonds ($5,000-$7,000). Also in the November sale: Brookins’s convertible “day into night” Winston drop earrings of coral and diamonds set in 18K yellow gold ($2,000-$3,000).


Bulgari sapphire, diamond, 18K yellow gold ring. Michaan’s Auctions image

In addition to pieces from the Estate of Barbara Belle Brookins, Michaan’s offers many more fine jewelry lots on Nov. 10. A 3-carat diamond ring is estimated at $15,000-$25,000. Period jewels include the Bohemian floral brooch, of gold with cultured pearls and rock crystal quartz ($400-$600).

Sales of fine art have flourished at Michaan’s in 2018, and the November sale once again features a work by a longtime favorite with Michaan’s art buyers: Man with Cockerel (below; $25,000-$35,000), a 1939 oil painting by Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972), the leading artist of his native Philippines. Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) is also highlighted. An innovator of the mixografia technique, Tamayo printed on handmade paper to achieve a three-dimensional effect.  His Dos Hermanos and Watermelons with Apple are both offered on Nov. 10.


Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (Filipino 1892-1972), ‘Man with Cockerel, 1939’ oil on board. Michaan’s Auctions image

Huanghuali wood, cinnabar lacquer, Imari porcelain and carved jade are just a few of the auction’s many Asian art highlights. A bust of the Buddha carved from lava stone is offered at $1,500-$2,500. In furniture and decorations, great finds include the Therien modernist wooden desk ($1,500-$2,500) and the mid-century chandelier by Carl Fagerlund for Orrefors ($1,000-$1,500). There are many fine gifts for collectors such as Herend animals and Daum art glass.