Iconic Collectors

Berlin, who is best known for her close association with Warhol from the mid-’60s through the mid-’80s and who appeared in many of his cult films of that period, was born into a world of privilege as the daughter of Richard Berlin, who ran the Hearst media empire for 52 years. As a young girl she would accompany her socialite mother, “Honey” Berlin, to the House of Gripoix, the most legendary costume jewelry designer of the day. A master of the technique of glass enameling, the firm, founded in 1890, is also credited with developing a sheen that perfectly imitates cultured pearls. Coco Chanel, who was known for her exacting standards, trusted Gripoix to produce pieces for her collections.

Berlin’s sophisticated childhood combined with her flamboyant personality and taste for the avant-garde acquired during her years as a Warhol confidante, is reflected in the 200 pieces that comprise her costume jewelry collection. Signed couture pieces by her friends Iradj Moini and Kenneth Jay Lane are included alongside vintage examples by Gripoix and other notable designers. Collectors will find figural pieces depicting snakes, lizards, and seahorses as well as more understated neoclassical pieces that have a more geometrical design. Like Chanel, Berlin insisted on the highest level of craftsmanship and design and her collection, above all else, reflects this.

Ann Getty is also known for her impeccable taste as an interior designer. Throughout her successful career she has worked with clients around the globe. Her international connections with craftsmen and artisans reflects her keen eye and interest in exotic design. Her costume jewelry collection, 60 lots acquired from the 1950 through the 1990s, demonstrates her enthusiasm for unique pieces especially noteworthy for their painterly assembly of colored stones. Outstanding examples by Moini, Lane, Karl Lagerfeld, Miriam Haskell, Stanley Hagler, William de Lillo, Trafari, Isabel Canovas, Hobe, and Dominique Aurientis, among others, are sure to incite vigorous bidding from costume jewelry collectors.

One of the best things about costume jewelry is its affordability. Most lots in the October 7 sale list estimates well below $1,000. For Washingtonians looking to dazzle – without the expensive price tag – at the next Opera Ball or Kennedy Center Honors Gala, this sale fits the bill.

As Coco Chanel once observed, “Nothing looks more like a fake jewel than a beautiful jewel. Why get mesmerized by a beautiful stone? One might as well wear a check around one’s neck.”

Readers wishing to get in touch with Renée Drake can email: columns@vps3.washingtonlife.com.

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