Jewels For Sale, two careful owners…


The Duchess of Windsor was, whatever one’s opinion of her and her life, one of the leading luxury customers of the 20th Century. A couture client of Chanel, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli (who like the Duchess has been suspected of Nazi sympathies) her taste manifested itself with the greatest clarity in her jewellery commissions. Following the original sale of her jewels in 1987, twenty pieces are returning to the Sotheby’s auction room this November to find new homes.

The piece I find most fascinating is the Cartier panther bracelet which she and the Duke of Windsor designed in 1952 in collaboration with Jeanne Toussaint (Cartier’s head of Haute Joallerie and a bit of a legend in her own right). The bracelet is a masterpiece of the jewellers art – the reticulated construction allowing it to encirle the wrist whilst permitting the jeweller to rereate the subtle curves and suggestions of movement for which Cartier jewelled animals are justly renowned.

Not included in this upcoming sale is another example of the Cartier “bestiary” created for the Duchess, again featuring a panther (a motif which continues to be a major design reference at the house today).  Surmounting a huge 150+ carat cabochon sapphire, the animal has been rendered in three dimensions and sits imperiously atop the stone. The craftsmanship cannot be understated as a work of art. Made in 1949, this piece was bought back by Cartier to be a star piece in the Cartier Collection.

Returning to the sale we can look forward to this 30th November, another jewel which resonates for me is the brooch the Duke gave the Duchess for their 20th anniversary, bearing a looping WE monogram in calibre cut emeralds.

34-35 New Bond Street
London W1

175-177 New Bond Street
London W1


One Response to “Jewels For Sale, two careful owners…”

  1. Hugh Wright Says:

    Delicious as these pieces undoubtedly are, and of incomparable provenance and romance, they are (I have heard) unlikely to have greatly appreciated in value since the 1987 auction because of the carelessness with which HRH The Duchess of Windsor treated them. Such was the abundance of her collection that, rather than store the pieces carefully in jewel cases she would simply toss them all into a drawer or vanity case, within which the diamonds would scratch the rubies, the rubies would chip the sapphires, and all the stones would scratch and dent the gold and platinum settings!

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