TEFAF Maastricht 2017

A buoyant mood was evident in the halls of TEFAF Maastricht this year. Now in its 30th year, what is arguably the most prestigious art and antique fair in the world continues to impress its visitors with the highest calibre of Old Masters paintings, antiques from around the world, contemporary art and objects, as well as jewels new and old. From the spectacular flower display at the entrance (a softly colorful palette of pinks, purples and greens this year) to the treasures found around each corner, to all the charm of the medieval town of Maastricht, it continues to be a much-anticipated fair on my calendar.

2017 marks the 20th year of participation for Hemmerle, the masterfully innovative Munich-based jeweller, and the booth was buzzing with admirers. I was particularly taken with a ring that featured a large spinel set in a basketweave of purple aluminum. With only a whisper of metal on the inside edges, it is practically weightless - and the color match between the metal and the stone makes it more of a study in texture than flash, despite the size of the gem.

A gorgeous workshop experiment that fortunately went according to plan (and finished just in time for the fair) is also a highlight. Gold wire was wrapped around carved wax, which was then slowly melted out, leaving behind a voluminous but light structure, into which white diamonds have been embedded.

There was plenty of buzz at Hancocks too, in this case for a piece of special provenance. An Edwardian diamond tiara from the Spencer family, a wedding day gift from Lord Spencer to his daughter Lady Edwina Spencer (great aunt of Diana) in 1912. The tiara breaks down to form a choker as well as two bracelets - and it sold moments into the preview day.

In a darkened booth, visitors are invited into the magical world of Wallace Chan, who is showing at the fair for the second year. 40 pieces are on display that show a variety of technical feats and imaginative designs, my favorite being a butterfly necklace that features remarkable three-dimensional carved amethyst wings with a carpet of white diamonds set beneath that shimmer through. The pendant can be worn as a brooch or the body can be removed and worn on its own as well.

Another interesting piece is a ring called β€˜Ruby Castle’ that features a 17.58ct hexagonal Burmese ruby. Tension set in titanium, it’s surrounded by pink sapphires that were cut to match its natural structure.

Otto Jakob, who shows solely at TEFAF, is known for his art and historically inspired jewels, which fit perfectly with the fair. I was particularly taken with a small series of earrings that featured pieces of fossilized coral, which are each very unique and stunning in such a fine setting. For sheer beauty I loved a pair of earrings that were modeled on the parrot tulip. An actual petal was dipped in wax and then the final version was rendered in gold, enamel and diamonds.

Over at Epoque Fine Jewels, what was likely once part of a much larger necklace that could be broken apart to form different jewels, a Cartier Belle Epoque piece is the perfect length for a next-level choker. Also catching my eye was a fiery pair of Art Deco earrings with old European cut diamonds set in platinum in gold, circa 1920.

And finally on my list of things that caught my eye, and perhaps a little more subtle in the ruby category, is this ring offered by SJ Shrubsole. The calibre-cut stones are set to perfection and the round diamonds appear to float on a sea of rubies. This ring is circa 1930.

The fair's next edition is TEFAF New York Spring, which takes place May 4-8.