Aquamarine brooch owned by the youngest Mitford sister comes to Bonhams London

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A Belle Époque aquamarine and diamond brooch, once owned by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, is one of the star pieces at Bonhams’ London Jewels sale on Wednesday 22 September at New Bond Street, London.

The large oval-cut aquamarine brooch, set horizontally within a delicate border of old brilliant and single-cut diamonds, has an estimate of £25,000-35,000.

A Belle Époque aquamarine and diamond brooch

Pictures credit: Bonhams

Emily Barber, Head of Bonhams Jewellery Department, UK, said: “Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, youngest of the famous Mitford sisters, and châtelaine of Chatsworth for more than 50 years, was a woman of exquisite taste – as this beautiful brooch clearly demonstrates. Not only is the piece of superb quality, it has exceptional provenance. The Duchess can be seen wearing the brooch in a photograph of her alongside Cecil Beaton at the ‘White Ball’, held by Prince Rupert Loewenstein (the financial manager of The Rolling Stones) at his home in Holland Park, London in 1969. The photograph is also published in the Duchess’ autobiography, Wait For Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister.” 

Born in 1920, Debo – as she was widely known – was one of the six aristocratic Mitford Sisters, who enthralled the public with their stylish – often controversial – lives, as well as their contrasting political views. The family was immortalised by her eldest sister, Nancy, in the novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. 

Debo was a favourite of the Royal Family and counted intellectuals and artists as friends, including Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett, Evelyn Waugh, Lucian Freud and John Betjeman. John F. Kennedy, a childhood friend, danced with her at her coming out ball. In 1941, she married Lord Andrew Cavendish, son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, who succeeded to the dukedom in 1950. She was widowed in 2004 and died in 2014. At her funeral, more than 600 staff from the Chatsworth estate and hundreds of members of the public lined the route to the church.

Aquamarine brooch owned by the youngest Mitford sister comes to Bonhams London