Duchess of Windsor’s jewels to go on sale
Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Citrine and Diamond Clip, mounted by Cartier, Paris, 1940, designed as a flamingo in characteristic pose, created by Jeanne
Toussaint for Cartier
LONDON, September 26, 2010 – The sale of jewels that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor went on display at Sotheby’s in London and will take place 23 years after the same items featured in a record-breaking auction of her possessions.
Twenty pieces of jewellery and ephemera, including a stunning flamingo brooch, will be sold at Sotheby’s in London on November 30.
The collection tells the story of one of the 20th century’s most sensational love affairs.
King Edward VIII’s affair with Wallis Simpson, a twice-married socialite from Pennsylvania, shook the British monarchy to the core. Precluded by constitution from marrying a divorcee who was not yet widowed, Edward abdicated the throne in 1936.
They married in 1937 as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Throughout their relationship, from courtship to the end of their married life, the couple commissioned exquisite jewels from Cartier, including the vibrant flamingo brooch from 1940 encrusted with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, citrines and sapphires.
It is expected to fetch in the region of £1 million, as is a highly articulated diamond, onyx and platinum bracelet fashioned in the form of a preying panther.
That was inspired by Jeanne Toussaint, director of Cartier from 1933, who bore the sobriquet ‘the panther’ because of her fascination with big cats.
Also up for sale is a Cartier diamond bracelet that the Duchess wore for her wedding to the Duke. It bears nine charms, each a bejewelled cross inscribed with a momentous event from their lives. The bracelet is expected to fetch £350,000-£450,000.
The November sale is expected to fetch more than £3 million in total. All 20 pieces are being auctioned on behalf of a single anonymous collector, who purchased the jewels during the much larger Sotheby’s auction of 1987, held over the course of two days in Geneva.
The Geneva auction took place shortly after the Duchess died in Paris in 1986. Estimated to make £5 million, it shattered all predictions by fetching £31million at a star-studded event.