Jewellery, Watches and Objects of Vertu (4 September 2018)

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Date of Auction: 4th September 2018

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

A 19th century French diamond floral ‘en tremblant’ convertible spray brooch, by Debacq & Cie, circa 1880s, the floral spray set throughout with old-cut and rose-cut diamonds, the two flower heads mounted ‘en tremblant’, amidst foliage with ribbon tie to the stems, gold and silver mounted, together with a gold multi-petal sunflower and diamond set hinged bangle; the flower heads within the brooch and bangle being detachable and interchangeable, the case lining containing the original fittings to adapt the brooch to a foliate spray, the two flower heads into pendants or individual brooches and three hairpins to create hair ornaments; the brooch stamped with lozenge maker’s mark and French eagle’s head guarantee marks; also included, the original hand drawn jeweller’s pen and ink sketch of the brooch depicting the two alternate versions of the brooch (one as a floral spray, the other as a smaller foliate spray - the two shaded leaves in the second image showing the inclusion of an additional foliate section), the suite contained in a maroon leather and gilt tooled case, the interior lined with maroon velvet, silk and taffeta and signed ‘Debacq & Cie, Rue Réaumur, 41 Paris’, length of brooch 9.5cm, bangle inner diameter 5.7cm. £4000-6000

Condition Report

The suite is in very good condition, minimal signs of wear, bracelet has safety chain at clasp, there is slight tarnish to the gold petals of the flowerhead.
There is one vacant area within the panel of extra fittings (contained within the base of the box) - there may perhaps have been one further slightly larger brooch fitting to adapt the suite. The pen and ink designs are drawn on rather crumpled buff grease proof paper. The case is in good conditional externally - just some very light scuffing, the cover is initialled ‘P.C’ in gilt lettering. The interior of the box is also in very clean order. The gilt tooling to the interior and exterior edges of the case are also still fine. Weight of brooch is 44.7gm. Bracelet weight is 29gm.


The French jewel house Debacq & Cie first started business in 1812, at 358 rue de la Port St Denis, Paris, when Raymond Sabe set up a jewellery trading business. By 1838, Raymond passed his jewellery company to his three nephews, Felix, Victor and Pierre Eugène Sabe, and they were joined by Sincie Debacq, the husband of Raymond Sabe’s niece. Between 1838-1851, the company traded as Debacq & Sabe, moving to premises at 29 rue Royale Saint-Martin.

From 1851, Sincie Debacq decided to work independently but he joined forces again with Pierre Eugène Sabe in 1859. By now the company was established in 41 rue Réaumur and business was expanding. By 1868, there were again changes, as Sincie bought out his partners, and started a new association with his sons-in-law Victor Peyret and Camille Batcave. The company was now trading under Debacq & Cie, the name which was to continue until 1899. These were the years of their greatest success, creating fashionable diamond jewels and reflecting current trends. One of their most popular lines was their diamond floral suites, incorporating the taste for convertible jewels, where a piece could be adapted for wear in different ways, and often incorporating flowers set ‘en tremblant’, the flower heads spring mounted to give the effect of ‘dancing in the breeze’.

After Sincie’s death in 1906, the firm again changed management, continuing as Debacq, Peyret & Fils, but with the onset of the First World War, business became increasing difficult. The company struggled on but by 1951, had ceased trading. In 1960 there was an attempt to revive the company, but it was finally sold in 1980.