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Diamond tiara, attributed to Fabergé, circa 1903
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A Tiara, a Necklace, a Princess and a Socialite

Historic jewels take us back in time. They are unique pieces with a soul. And their fabled past is still alive today.

Two magnificent jewels, with important provenance, prove that princely and glittering bygone times are still full of magic.

Vintage jewels take us back in time. Their opulence, their exquisite craftsmanship, their exceptional gems tell us stories of a fabled past. Sparkling tales which keep capturing our imagination.

Two of these jewels are the highlights of the upcoming Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction, at Sotheby’s Geneva, next May.

An Art Deco Treasure

Art Deco is at its best with this stunning emerald and diamond necklace, presumably signed by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Magnificent and highly important emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1935
Magnificent and highly important emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1935. © Sotheby’s

The necklace was created in the 1930s for Hélène Beaumont (1894-1988), an American socialite and philanthropist, and close friend of the Duchess of Windsor.

The necklace is set with 11 graduated Colombian sugarloaf cabochon emeralds, perfectly matching in colour and proportions, weighing a total of over 75 carats.

The emeralds are flanked by hexagonal-shaped diamonds, framed with similarly cut, dart-shaped and baguette diamonds, the back formed of a tapered row of marquise-shaped, oval and square-cut diamonds.

This is Art Deco at its absolute finest.

David Bennet, Sotheby’s Worldwide Jewellery Chairman

Emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1935
Emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1935. © Sotheby’s


Note of curiosity: it was not unusual, at the time, to leave a jewel unsigned, but the necklace’s beauty and quality suggest that it was made by Van Cleef & Arpels – which is consistent with all the jewels Mme Beaumont had from the same Maison.

This necklace is also multipurpose, as its central emerald and diamond sections can be detached and worn as bracelets.

Commenting on this necklace, David Bennet, Sotheby’s Worldwide Jewellery Chairman, said, “This is Art Deco at its absolute finest, a connoisseur’s jewel. Rare and exceptional pieces like these are the reason people collect Jewellery. The first time I laid eyes on this emerald and diamond necklace was exactly 25 years ago when we sold the Hélène Beaumont collection in Geneva. I said at the time that it was the most important row of cabochon emeralds I had seen during my then 20-year career. Today, 25 years on, that statement still holds true.” 

Royal Fabergé

Fabergé had a prominent role at the Romanov court, as court jeweller. Among their exceptional production, there also most probably was this diamond tiara.  

Diamond tiara, attributed to Fabergé, circa 1903
Diamond tiara, attributed to Fabergé, circa 1903 © Sotheby’s

The jewel was gifted to Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwein (1886-1954) by her Russian relatives on the occasion of her wedding to Crown Prince Wilhem (1882-1951), heir to the throne of Prussia, in 1905.

Duchess Cecilie wearing the Fabergé tiara
Duchess Cecilie wearing the Fabergé tiara © Sotheby’s

The young duchess had joined one of the most important dynasties in Europe. Strikingly beautiful, with jet-black hair and impressive dark eyes, Cecilie quickly became one of the most beloved members of the German Imperial House, particularly admired for her sense of style. Her elegance and fashion-consciousness meant that before long, her style was being copied by women across the Empire. 

The tiara, presumably designed in 1903, and attributed to Fabergé, is set with three circular-cut diamonds, framed with stylized laurels within an arched surround of lattice work design, joined with rose diamond quatrefoils. Its central circular motif is detachable.

Historic jewels have the power to transport us back to a moment in time.

Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s Jewellery Chairman, Europe

Diamond tiara, attributed to Fabergé, circa 1903
Diamond tiara, attributed to Fabergé, circa 1903 © Sotheby’s

Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s Jewellery Chairman, Europe, “As we saw last November with Marie Antoinette’s pearl, historic jewels have the power to transport us back to a moment in time. The tiara attributed to Fabergé is another perfect example: its Kokoshnik design reflects Crown Princess Cecilie’s Russian family, who gifted it to her for her wedding; from portraits we can see that she paired the tiara with her gowns in a very fashion-forward way for the very early 1900s. For so many collectors today – who seek out unique pieces with ‘soul’ – this jewel is really a masterpiece.” 

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