'Gardenia' ring, 'Parrot Tulip' bangle, Alfred Bapst, Art Deco natural pearl and diamond necklace, ‘String’ ear pendants, Bapst, Baroness Edouard de Rothschild, Blue Belle of Asia, Bulgari, Burmese ruby, Cartier, Ceylon, coloured diamond and diamond ear-pendants, cushion-shaped sapphire, Duchess of Windsor, Empress Eugenie of France, Harry Winston, JAR, Lucrezia Bori, Maharajah of Kutch, Mogok, natural drop-shaped pearl, natural pearl and diamond ear pendants, Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace, oval-shaped ruby, pear-shaped diamond, pear-shaped Fancy Vivid Blue diamond, pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond, Queen of Burma, ruby and diamond ring, Sarah Brightman, tiger jewellery, Type IIa
Photos Christie’s Ltd 2014
Geneva – Christie’s fall auction of Magnificent Jewels will be held on 11 November at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. Featuring over 390 lots, the auction includes top quality coloured and colourless diamonds, jewels of historical provenance, exceptionally rare gemstones, natural pearls and an important group of Jewels by JAR. The auction is estimated to fetch in excess of US$80 million.
The auction is led by A Bulgari Masterpiece, a spectacular pair of pear-shaped coloured diamond ear-pendants, set with a 6.95 carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond and a 6.79 carat Fancy Vivid Pink diamond which carry a pre-sale estimate of SFr. 11,500,000-14,500,000 / US$ 12,000,000-15,000,000.
A pair of pear-shaped coloured diamond and diamond ear-pendants, by Bulgari. Estimate CHF11,500,000 – CHF14,500,000 ($12,112,023 – $15,271,681). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
The marquise and pear-shaped diamond cluster top, weighing a total of approximately 19.28 carats, suspending a detachable pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond, weighing approximately 6.95 carats, and a pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond, weighing approximately 6.79 carats, mounted in platinum and gold, 4.0 cm. Signed Bulgari
Accompanied by report no. 14859448 dated 22 August 2014 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 6.95 carat pear-shaped diamond is Fancy Vivid Blue colour, SI2 clarity, a Diamond Type Classification letter stating that the diamond is Type IIB
Report no. 5161522496 dated 29 August 2014 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 6.79 carat pear-shaped diamond is Fancy Vivid Pink colour, VS2 clarity, a Diamond Type Classification letter stating that the diamond is Type IIA
14 reports dated 1994 to 2005 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 14 diamonds on the top, ranging from 2.03 to 1.05 carats, are D to F colour, Internally Flawless to VS2 clarity
Please note that the reports of the colourless diamonds are more than five years old and might require an update
Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Christie’s Jewelry, commented: “With one of the largest and most important sapphires in the world from private hands, A Bulgari Masterpiece, iconic Cartier jewels from the Duchess of Windsor, natural pearls that were once in the collection of Baroness Edouard de Rothschild, and Empress Eugenie’s Feuilles de Groseillier brooch, Christie’s Geneva is proud to present the finest and best jewels in the world on November 11.”
Exceptionally Rare Coloured Stones
The sale will include the fourth largest faceted sapphire in the world, the Blue Belle of Asia, a cushion shaped Ceylon sapphire of 392.52 carats (estimate: SFr. 6,650,000-9,500,000 / US$ 7,000,000 – 10,000,000). This exceptional gem was discovered in 1926 at Pelmadula, Ratnapura (‘The City of Gems’) in Ceylon and was sold to British motor magnate Lord Nuffield (1877-1963), founder of Morris Motors Limited in 1937. The reasons behind his purchase of the Blue Belle of Asia have remained a mystery, however, it was rumoured that the sapphire was to be presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, on her Coronation Day on 12 May 1937.
The ‘Blue Belle of Asia’. A spectacular 392.52 carats cushion-shaped sapphire and diamond necklace. Estimate CHF6,650,000 – CHF9,500,000 ($7,003,909 – $10,005,584). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Centering upon a cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing approximately 392.52 carats, suspending a brilliant-cut diamond tassel pendant with oval-shaped diamond terminals, to the brilliant-cut diamond neckchain, mounted in gold, 45.0 cm
Accompanied by report no. 72359 dated 2 September 2014 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the sapphire is of Ceylon origin, with no indications of heating, and a Premium Appendix stating that the sapphire ‘.. possesses extraordinary characterists and merits special mention and appreciation’.
Report no. 14090018 dated 11 September 2014 from the Gübelin GemLab Institute stating that the sapphire is of Ceylon origin, with no indications of heating, an information sheet on ‘Unheated sapphires’ and an appendix stating that the sapphire ‘..is one of the largest faceted sapphires the Gübelin Gem lab has seen to date and possesses a combination of oustanding characteristics’.
Notes: Many articles have been written on large sapphires in Royal and other important collections. Stones of over 100 carats will feature in several, but the quality and size of the present sapphire make comparisons difficult to find. An extract from the inventory of the Crown Jewels of Iran states that there are relatively few in the collection but three were worthy of special note, the largest weighing 191.58 carats. The Diamond Treasury in the Kremlin museum possesses a magnificent cornflower blue sapphire from the old Russian Royal regalia weighing 250 carats. Another large Russian sapphire is one that bears the name of Catherine the Great and weighs 337 carats.
From the very short list of faceted sapphires weighing over 350 carats, one has always remained a mystery. After the Blue Giant of the Orient (486.52 carats), the Queen of Romania’s Sapphire (478.68 carats) and the Logan Sapphire(423 carats), comes the Blue Belle of Asia, a legendary sapphire the history of which has been kept secret for a long time.
This exceptional stone was discovered in 1926 at Pelmadula, Ratnapura (‘The City of Gems’) in Ceylon. Although it is difficult to locate information regarding the exact weight or shape of the gem at the time, it is often mentioned that it was ‘valued at 50,000’ in 1928, ‘weighing approximately 400 carats after having been cut and polished’. It had a ‘highly prized peacock blue colour and excellent clarity’ and was owned by the well-known gem and jewellery dealers Macan Markar in Colombo. The famous firm, established in 1860 by O. L. M. Macan Markar, had one of the most spectacular collections of gems and among their clients were several members of the British Royal family including HM King Edward VII and HM King George V.
In 1937, the Blue Belle of Asia was sold to British motor magnate Lord Nuffield (1877-1963). The founder of Morris Motors Limited, he was also an important philanthropist and in the 1920s, he had made his first substantial public benefaction. In 1937, Lord Nuffield founded and endowed Nuffield College, Oxford and in 1943 he gave 10 million to form the Nuffield Foundation. The trust was designed to benefit medical research, hospitals and education. At the time of his death in 1963, he had given away more than 32 million to charitable institutions.
The reasons behind his purchase of the Blue Belle of Asia were mysterious. It was reported that the sapphire was to be presented to HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on her coronation day on 12 May 1937. The truth is that the Blue Belle of Asia ‘disappeared’ into private hands and that its location was unknown for the next 35 years. According to records from the 1970s, the famous Swiss based gem-dealer Theodore Horovitz had the opportunity to examine the sapphire. His notes and drawings give precious additional information on the shape and weight of the gem.
It is now time for the Blue Belle of Asia to get the recognition it deserves. Sapphires of this size, colour and clarity are extremely rare. This magnificent specimen must rank as one of the most prestigious coloured gems to have come to the market for many years, worthy of any leading collection.
An extremely rare ruby will also be offered for sale on November 11th: the Queen of Burma, an impressive Burmese ruby of 23.66 carats, mounted by Cartier (SFr. 5,250,000-6,650,000 / US$5,500,000-7,000,000). Purchased at Cartier in London in November 1937 by His Highness the Maharao of Cutch (1866-1942), the present example highlights once again the relationship between the European jeweller and Indian Royalty of that time. The Queen of Burma combines all the most sought-after qualities in a ruby: an attractive vivid pinkish red colour, an excellent purity, an impressive size and the finest origin.
The ‘Queen of Burma’. An exceptional ruby and diamond ring, by Cartier. Estimate CHF6,650,000 – CHF5,250,000 – CHF6,650,000 ($5,529,402 – $7,003,909). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
entering upon an oval-shaped ruby, weighing approximately 23.66 carats, the claws set with inverted baguette-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum, 1937, ring size 8½, in green Cartier leather fitted case. Signed Cartier London
Accompanied by Premium Report no. 72285 dated 27 January 2014 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the ruby is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heating, and an appendix letter indicating that « The rarity of this ruby ring lies not only in the beauty, quality and Burmese origin of the ruby, but certainly also in the historic provenance of this jewellery item. This makes the ‘Queen of Burma’ ruby ring a very exceptional treasure. »
Report no. 14060070 dated 13 June 2014 from the Gübelin GemLab stating that the ruby is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heating, two information sheets on ‘Unheated rubies’ and ‘Rubies from Mogok, Burma’, and an appendix letter indicating that this ruby « displays a richly saturated and homogeneous pink-red colour. Together with its high transparency, the fine cut and proportions of this stone provide a high brilliancy and numerous reflections. »
Also with copy of letter from Cartier indicating the date of purchase (6 November 1937), and that the ring was sold to His Highness the Maharajah of Kutch
Notes: In November 1937, His Highness the Maharao of Cutch purchased an impressive ruby ring at Cartier London. The‘Queen of Burma’, as it is now known, is the perfect representation of the exquisite relationship between the European house of jewellery and Indian Royalty of that time. The ring is set with an extraordinary Burmese ruby, weighing approximately 23.66 carats, symbolizing the lavish life-style and connoisseurship of the Indian Maharajas. The setting illustrates the modernity and style of the period with simple and clean lines creating a strong and architectural ring for a gentleman. The novelty of the Art Deco style is exemplified further by four baguette-cut baton diamonds set backward on the prongs of the ring.
The ‘Queen of Burma’ combines all the most sought-after qualities in a ruby, an attractive colour, an excellent purity, an impressive size, and the finest origin, making it an exceptional gem-stone. The gem connoisseur Mr. Richard W. Hughes, wrote on the subject: ‘Crystallized ruby is relatively common. But when rubies are found as fine, pure red translucent or transparent single crystals, they become some of the rarest minerals on the planet. As an advanced mineral collector I have only seen a handful that qualify as world-class ruby specimens and of those, only from Mogok (Myammar)’.
The saturated red colour of the ruby is due to a combination of well-balanced trace elements in the stone, characteristic of the finest rubies from Mogok. The ‘Queen of Burma’ is exquisite for the purity of its crystal, showing almost no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. The ruby has been spared exposure to heat treatment and its colour and purity are thus all natural. The lack of enhancement further accentuates the rarity and prestige of this fine natural Burmese ruby.
This exceptional stone could be compared with another exceptional gem, the ‘Hope Ruby’, a 32.08 carat cushion-shaped Burmese ruby and diamond ring by Chaumet, which sold for $6,742,440 against an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. This world record price for a ruby at auction was part of the charitable Lily Safra sale, at Christie’s Geneva, in May 2012. Like many prodigious stones, the ‘Hope Ruby’ was formerly in the collection of great personalities, such as Luz Mila Patio, the Countess du Boisrouvray. Such important pieces attract the most knowledgeable and refined ownerships, as the ‘Queen of Burma’ was once in the possession of the honorable Maharao Shri Khengarji III.
His Highness the Maharao Shri Khengarji III (1866-1942) balanced his life between modernity and heritage. An educated man, he often travelled to Europe, where he cultivated and cherished high political and personal relationships. During his very long reign, from 1875 to 1942, the Princely State of Cutch flourished and grew through the implementation of many developmental initiatives such as education and health systems. The ruler recognized the extraordinary value of the ‘Queen of Burma’ when he acquired the ring from Cartier, in 1937. Meanwhile, Jacques Cartier had developed a great interest for India, travelling frequently to the subcontinent, visiting many of its regions, and establishing real friendships with several ruling Maharajahs. India, with its history and culture of jewellery and beauty, offered a new market for the trade of stones as well as a great source of inspiration with different cuts and association of colours.
The relationship between Cartier and India was officialised in 1901 when Pierre Cartier was called to Buckingham Palace to create jewels of Indian inspiration for Queen Alexandra, Queen of England and Empress of India. The two countries intertwined histories was an opportunity for the jewellery house to fashion fabulous creations for the Royal family, influencing the style and the legacy of the time.
The marriage of Cartier’s savoir-faire and India’s extraordinary heritage produced other wonderful jewellery pieces, such as the famous Patiala necklace, for the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and the Art Deco emerald and diamond necklaces of the Maharajah of Nawanagar Ranjithsinhji, made by Cartier, respectively in 1928 and 1926. The splendour and opulence of the Maharajah era in collaboration with the renowned house of Cartier lives on in the ‘Queen of Burma’.
Following the sale of THE ORANGE in November 2013, which achieved a world auction record for an orange diamond (SFr. 32,645,000 / US$35,540,612) and the WINSTON BLUE in May 2014, which established a world auction record price per carat for a blue diamond (SFr. 21,445,000 / US$ 23,795,372), the November 11 auction of Magnificent Jewels will include A Bulgari Masterpiece set with a truly unique pair of pear-shaped coloured diamonds. This pair of ear-pendants, one set with a Fancy Vivid Blue and the other with a Fancy Vivid Pink diamond of nearly matching size is expected to fetch in excess of SFr. 11.5 million / US$ 12 million. Additional highlights include a pear-shaped Very Light Pink diamond necklace of 40.48 carats (SFr. 3,250,000-5,250,000 / US$3,500,000-5,600,000 millions) and an old mine cut Fancy Pink diamond ring of 15.62 carats (SFr. 2,400,000-3,400,000 / US$ 2,500,000-3,600,000).
An important very light pink pear-shaped Type IIa diamond and diamond necklace. Estimate 3,250,000 – CHF5,250,000 ($3,422,963 – $5,529,402). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
suspending a very light pink pear-shaped diamond, weighing approximately 40.48 carats, and two brilliant-cut diamond connections, weighing approximately 3.77 and 3.51 carats, from a graduated line of brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum and gold, 50.2 cm
Accompanied by report no. 2165267815 dated 20 June 2014 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the diamond is Very Light Pink colour, VVS1 clarity, a working diagram indicating that the clarity of the diamond is potentially Internally Flawless, and a diamond type classification letter stating that the diamond is Type IIa
A fancy pink kite brilliant-cut Type IIA diamond ring. Estimate 2,400,000 – CHF3,400,000 ($2,527,727 – $3,580,946). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Set with a fancy pink kite brilliant-cut diamond, weighing approximately 15.62 carats, to the plain hoop, ring size 6½, with French assay marks for platinum and gold
Accompanied by report no. 2165467765 dated 8 August 2014 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the diamond is Fancy Pink colour, VS1 clarity, a working diagram indicating that the clarity of the diamond is potentially Internally Flawless, and a diamond type classification letter stating that the diamond is Type IIA
Jewels by Jar
Seven jewels by JAR will be offered at auction in Geneva, some of which were recently on display at the ‘Jewels by JAR’ exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Nov 2013-March 2014). The defining characteristic of Joel Arthur Rosenthal’s work is his superior craftsmanship evocative of the quality of jewels in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bold in proportion and often resulting in sculptural objects, his propensity for incorporating unusual gemstones into his creations give the works a vivid sense of movement and light. This was the first time that the Metropolitan Museum exhibited works of a contemporary jewellery designer. Amongst the remarkable group of jewels offered for sale are the ‘Gardenia’ ring, formerly in The Collection of Ellen Barkin (SFr. 310,000-370,000 / US$ 330,000-390,000), the sculpted gold Parrot Tulip cuff (SFr. 190,000-290,000 / US$ 210,000-310,000) and a pair of diamond ‘String’ ear pendants (SFr. 125,000-185,000/US$ 140,000-200,000).
A diamond ‘Gardenia’ ring, by JAR. Estimate 310,000 – CHF370,000 ($326,498 – $389,691). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Realistically modelled, the unfurling petals entirely pavé-set with brilliant-cut diamonds, 2004, with French assay marks for silver and gold, in pink suede JAR pouch. Signed JAR Paris
Provenance: Christie’s New York, 10 October 2006, ‘Magnificent Jewels from the Collection of Ellen Barkin’, Lot 99
Literature: JAR II, Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 2013-March 2014, no. 54
Exhibited: Jewels by JAR, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 2013-March 2014
A gold, diamond and green garnet ‘Parrot Tulip’ bangle, by JAR. Estimate 190,000 – CHF290,000 ($200,112 – $305,434). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Designed as a sculpted gold flower, the two petals at the base forming the hinged cuff, enhanced by single-cut diamonds and circular-cut green garnets, 1994, flower size 9.5 cm, in pink leather fitted JAR case. Signed JAR Paris
Literature: JAR I, Exhibition at Somerset House, London, November 2002-January 2003, no. 86
Exhibited: Jewels by JAR, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 2013-March 2014, no. 5
A pair of diamond ‘String’ ear pendants. Estimate 125,000 – CHF185,000 ($131,652 – $194,846). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Each designed as four intertwined spiralling tendrils, set with lines of brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in silver and gold, 2006, 8.3 cm, with clip fittings, in pink leather fitted JAR case. By JAR
Literature: JAR II, Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 2013-March 2014, no. 50
Exhibited: Jewels by JAR, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 2013-March 2014
Important Natural Pearls
Formerly in the collection of Baroness Edouard de Rothschild, an Art Deco diamond necklace suspends two natural pearls of great quality and exceptional luster, measuring 16.0mm each (SFr. 670,000-950,000 / US$ 700,000-1,000,000). A pair of perfectly matched pearls of this size and quality are near impossible to find and will make a great addition to any jewelry collection.
The Baroness Edouard de Rothschild Art Deco natural pearl and diamond necklace. Estimate 2,650,000 – CHF670,000 – CHF950,000 ($705,657 – $1,000,558). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Of Indian inspiration, composed of two rows of pear-shaped and old-cut diamond links, suspending at the front two natural pearl pendants, measuring approximately 16.0 x 15.9 mm and 16.3 x 15.8 mm, with four additional links, mounted in platinum, 33.0 cm
Accompanied by report no. 74240 dated 17 April 2014 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the pearls are natural saltwater pearls, and an Appendix for an ‘Exceptional Pair of Natural Pearls’ stating that ‘Assembling a matching pair of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.’
PROPERTY FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF BARONESS EDOUARD DE ROTHSCHILD
The sale will also feature a pair of diamond ear pendants with two magnificent drop-shaped natural pearls weighing more than 100 grains each (SFr. 2,650,000-3,300,000 / US$2,800,000-3,500,000), and a two-strand natural pearl necklace of the finest rosé overtone quality by Cartier (SFr. 500,000-800,000 / US$530,000-850,000).
An exceptional pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants, by Harry Winston. Estimate 2,650,000 – CHF3,300,000 ($2,791,031 – $3,475,624). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Each top centering upon a brilliant-cut diamond, weighing approximately 3.04 and 3.03 carats, in a marquise-shaped diamond part cluster, suspending a detachable natural drop-shaped pearl, weighing approximately 104.31 and 101.57 grains, with a diamond-set cap, mounted in platinum and gold, 5.4 and 5.3 cm, in blue suede Harry Winston pouch. Tops signed HW for Harry Winston
Accompanied by report no. 74804 dated 4 June 2014 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the pearls are natural saltwater pearls, and an appendix for ‘Exceptional Natural Pearls’
Report no. 2155406437 dated 19 April 2013 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 3.04 carat diamond is F colour, VVS2 clarity
Report no. 6147804120 dated 2 August 2012 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 3.03 carat diamond is E colour, VVS2 clarity (3)
An exceptional natural pearl and diamond necklace, by Cartier. Estimate 2,650,000 – CHF500,000 – CHF800,000 ($526,610 – $842,576). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
The two rows composed of sixty-one and fifty-five graduated natural pearls, measuring approximately 9.8 to 4.5 mm, to the diamond-set navette-shaped clasp, 1930s, 44.0 cm. Clasp signed Cartier, no. 251715
Accompanied by report no. 76873 dated 26 September 2014 from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute stating that the 116 pearls are natural saltwater pearls, an appendix letter indicating that ‘..These pearls have been carefully selected and show a well matching round to roundish shape and a very fine pearl lustre.’
The mythical ‘Feuilles de Groseillier’ brooch (estimate: SFr. 1,900,000-2,900,000 / US$2,000,000-3,000,000), commissioned in 1855 by Empress Eugenie (1826-1920) to French jeweller Alfred Bapst was part of one of the most beautiful parures of the 19th Century. It belonged to the French Crown Jewels, of which very few examples in original condition survive to this day. It is therefore extremely rare for a jewel of such historic importance to be offered for sale.
The Empress Eugenie of France antique diamond ‘Feuilles de Groseillier‘ brooch , by Bapst. Estimate 1,900,000 – CHF2,900,000 ($2,001,117 – $3,054,336). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
Designed as a cluster of three openwork currant leaves set throughout with old mine diamonds, centering upon a larger cushion-shaped-mine diamond and suspending three detachable articulated pampilles, each composed of graduated old mine diamond collets to the drop-shaped aiguillette terminals, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1855. By Alfred Bapst
Provenance: Metropolitan Opera of New York
Lucrezia Bori (1887-1960), opera singer
French Crown Jewels auction, 12-13th May 1887, part of lot 11, purchased by Tiffany & Co.
Empress Eugenie of France (1826-1920)
Notes: Married to Napoleon III in 1853, Eugnie de Montijo (1826-1920) was the last Empress of France. A woman of great elegance, beauty and charm, she was born in Granada, Spain, was educated at the fashionable convent of the Sacr-Coeur in Paris and contributed immensely to the grandeur of the French court, overcoming her many critics of the time. She was also the leader of European fashion, and together with Charles Worth, developed a whole new range of fashion, which was soon followed by the rest of Europe.
Along with her elegance and splendour, her intelligence was highly regarded. She acted as Regent during her husband’s absences from France and was regularly consulted on important questions regarding the welfare of the Empire.
From the beginning of her reign in 1853, Empress Eugenie did much to enhance the reputation of French haute joaillerie, which at that time supplied the whole of Europe. Her love of jewellery being legendary, she had many Crown jewels remounted to suit her personal taste but also ordered some new pieces from the most famous jewellers in Paris.
Her infuence on jewellery has been so important that many of her personal jewels are now referenced as ‘Famous jewels’: the pearl and diamond crown by Lemmonier, the ‘Croix des Andes’ emerald pendant, the diamond Sévignébow brooch by Kramer and, of course, the mythical Parure de feuilles de groseillier, by Bapst.
This magnificent set was commissioned to Alfred Bapst in July 1855 and is still considered one of the most beautifulparures of the 19th Century. Composed of a guirlande (worn as a necklace), a tour-de-corsage (worn directly on the dress) and a devant-de-corsage brooch, its design was inspired by the delicate currant leaves and entirely set with diamonds.
The choice of the famous Parisian firm of Bapst was no surprise. The Bapst family had been Court jewellers for already 200 years at the time, starting with Georges-Michel Bapst, made ‘Court Goldsmith’ in 1770. Since then, generation after generation, they had been the jewellers of the Royalty and safe keepers of the Crown Jewels. During the Second Empire, Empress Eugenie favoured their very subtle ornaments in the form of foliage from which hung aiguillettes orpampilles: the present brooch being one stunning example of the exceptional quality of Alfred Bapst’s designs executed by Frédéric Bapst.
Following the fall of the Second Empire and the advent of the Third Republic in 1870, Empress Eugenie and her husband moved to England. Nearly all of their jewels were sold during a 12-day auction the French government conducted from 12th to 23rd of May 1887, and only a few of them survived in original condition. Several of the larger items were broken up before the auction so the stones could be sold individually. The Parure de feuilles de groseillierwas dismantled and sold as different lots. The guirlande was sold as 8 parts in lot no. 11. The present brooch was purchased by Tiffany & Co., who was the largest buyer at this legendary auction.
A few years later, with the advice of famous American jeweller Paul Flato, the brooch was selected by the Metropolitan Opera of New York as a farewell gift to famous opera singer Lucrezia Bori (1887-1960). A Spanish soprano who had sung at La Scala in Milan, Madame Bori made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910, singing the title role of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Since then, and for more than 20 years, she appeared 654 times, singing the leading role in 39 operas, also acting as a fundraiser since 1932. Her immense contribution to the Metropolitan Opera and famous portrayals as Mimi in ‘La Bohème’ or Violetta in ‘La Traviata’ led her to be the first performer to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Association.
On the night of her farewell gala, the 29th of March 1936, the ‘Feuilles de groseillier’ brooch was presented to Madame Lucrezia Bori by Mrs Vincent Astor, in the name of her colleagues on the Opera board and a large group of friends. Deeply touched by the prolonged cheering and numerous tributes, Madame Lucrezia Bori thanked everyone and said ‘My heart is in such turmoil that I do not know how to express the varied emotions I am feeling. I am supremely happy, supremely grateful, and yet supremely sad. Au revoir.’.
A devoted member of the Board of Directors, Madame Lucrezia Bori continued to work actively for the Metropolitan Opera until her death in 1960 and in her will, she bequeathed the brooch to the Metropolitan Opera where it has been exhibited since.
Formerly in the legendary collection of the Duchess of Windsor, a Tiger bangle and brooch by Cartier, now the property of Sarah Brightman, are two of the best examples of this iconic design created in 1928 by the famous French joaillier. The two jewels are offered as one lot with a pre-sale estimate of SFr. 1,700,000-2,400,000 / US$1,800,000-2,500,000. Parts of the proceeds will benefit The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.
The Duchess of Windsor rare set of coloured diamond, diamond, onyx and emerald ‘Tiger’ jewellery, by Cartier. Estimate 1,700,000 – CHF2,400,000 ($1,790,473 – $2,527,727). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014
The bracelet realistically modelled as a tiger encircling the wrist, the articulated body, paws and tail entirely pavé-set with brilliant-cut yellow and colourless diamonds interspersed with buff top onyx stripes, the head further set with onyx nose and marquise-shaped emerald eyes, with concealed clasp, 1956; together with a matching clip brooch modelled as a tiger in repose, 1959, bracelet inner circumference 15.8 cm, brooch 6.2 cm, with French assay marks for gold. Each signed Cartier Paris, nos. N8966 SC (bracelet) and R2756 (brooch) (2)
Provenance: The Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986)
THE PROPERTY OF SARAH BRIGHTMAN
By virtue of their unique history, Sarah Brightman intends to offer a portion of the proceeds from the sale to The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which significantly supports the arts, music in schools, The Architectural Heritage Fund and awards 30 performing arts scholarships annually. This donation will ensure the causes they both support benefit from the sale.
Notes: In 1914 the big cat motif entered the Cartier family by means of an onyx-spotted panther pattern wristwatch created by the famous designer Charles Jacqueau. Through the years, the initial pattern has evolved to fully sculptured animals and the array of cats has widened to include the striped tiger as well as the panther, with the first naturalistic brooch being produced in 1928; now in the Cartier Collection.
Promoted to Director of High Jewellery at Cartier in 1933, Jeanne Toussaint was undoubtedly one of the most influential characters of 20th Century jewellery design. A feline-lover, Toussaint was nicknamed ‘The Panther’ by Louis Cartier and her colleagues, a reference to the panther skin rugs which decorated her apartment. Toussaint immediately took the responsibility for supervising the ‘Great Cat’ designs and together with the outstanding creativity of designer Peter Lemarchand, produced a variety of jewels which forever immortalised the big cat motif within the context of Cartier design
Already an important client of Cartier, the Duchess of Windsor immediately fell in love with these cat jewels; the first three-dimensional panther being commissioned for her in 1948. Surmounting a cabochon emerald, this gold panther was joined one year later by an iconic brooch featuring a sapphire-spotted panther, this time in platinum, with adjoining large cabochon sapphire weighing more than 152 carats. This legendary brooch had such a great impact on the style icons of the day that many adopted Cartier cats as their emblem. Daisy Fellowes and Nina Dyer, for example, both appropriated this new look. American heiress Barbara Hutton, notable style rival of the Duchess of Windsor, was also famous for her preference for Jeanne Toussaint’s tiger menagerie. The first of the Duchess of Windsor’s tiger themed jewels was a pair of lorgnettes, the hinged fold-out glasses concealed behind a tiger’s body, purchased in 1954 and soon followed by this tiger bracelet in 1956 and matching clip in 1959.
An avid collector and one of the most stylish women of her day, the Duchess of Windsor amassed one of the most remarkable jewellery collections of the 20th Century. Her refined taste and ‘avant-garde’ spirit led her to acquire a combination of both classic and modern jewels. After her death, the collection was sold to benefit the Pasteur Institute in 1987. The Duchess of Windsor’s collection, including this bracelet and brooch, attracted international connoisseurs and although at the time buyers remained anonymous, it didn’t take long before the famous ‘Tigers’ were under the spotlight again.
On 26 January 1988, Sarah Brightman, arrived with then husband Andrew Lloyd Webber at the opening party of « The Phantom of the Opera » at the Beacon Theatre in New York adorned with these tiger jewels. Andrew Lloyd Webber bought these iconic jewels for Ms. Brightman, as a present in celebration of the huge London and Broadway success of the musical, which he wrote and in which she starred. « The Phantom of the Opera » still remains the most successful musical of all time. After many successful years on the musical stage, Sarah resumed her music career and today, remains one of the most prominent performers, with global album sales of over 35 million. In 2012, Sarah became a UNESCO Artist for Peace Ambassador. Through this, and other humanitarian roles, Sarah advocates education for the role of women in science and technology.