A ruby-set Cartier bangle, the Duchess of Windsor’s first anniversary present, to be auctioned at Christie’s Geneva on November 9

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A ruby- and diamond-set Cartier bangle, the Duchess of Windsor’s first anniversary present, is to be offered at auction by Christie’s at the magnificent jewels sale in Geneva on November 9, 2021.

Christie's

Credit: Christie’s

Alongside the diamond bracelets of Queen Marie Antoinette of France, Christie’s Geneva will be offering the first anniversary gift the Duchess of Windsor received from her husband, the Duke of Windsor, on 3 June 1938.

The order must have been placed with Cartier Paris earlier that year and delivered to the Duke ahead of the couple leaving town to spend the summer in the south of France. To mark love, passion, good fortune, courage and prosperity, the Duke had chosen rubies to take the centre stage of this unique jewel.

Many of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels were engraved with personal messages allowing us a rare glimpse into the couple’s intimacy.

The bangle was given by the Duke of Windsor to his wife on their first wedding anniversary in 1938, and is inscribed “For our first anniversary of June third”.

At the time the couple were holidaying on the French Riviera in Antibes at the Villa La Croë.

In December 1936, Edward VIII famously abdicated the British throne to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Warfield Simpson. They were married in France at the Château de Candé in June 1937. For years the Windsor’s were a fixture of international society and will always be remembered for their chic lifestyle and beautiful jewellery.

This bangle is a sleek and sophisticated reinterpretation of the Art Deco style. Very avant-garde, it is one of Cartier’s most unusual designs which never cease to surprise by their simplicity (estimate CHF1,000,000-2,000,000).

In fact, Cartier had previously set the ruby and diamond clusters on a necklace for its stock in 1937. A year later they were reworked into the bangle we see today. 

It reappears at public auction for the first time since the landmark auction of 1987 Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, a sale which gained mythic status thanks to the record prices, media attention and the renewed interest it sparked towards provenanced and signed jewellery, that has persisted ever since.