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Sotheby's to offer two masterpieces epitomizing key periods in the history of jewellery
Magnificent and highly important emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1935. Estimate : CHF 2,985,000 – 3,980,000 / USD 3,000,000 – 4,000,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- This May in Geneva, Sotheby’s will offer for sale two masterpieces epitomizing the craftsmanship of key periods in the history of Jewellery. Following the record-breaking sale of Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family in November 2018, both jewels have prestigious provenance: they belonged to two influential women who in their time embodied the height of fashion and elegance.

The first jewel is an Art Deco treasure, probably by Van Cleef & Arpels: a stunning emerald and diamond necklace created in the 1930s for Hélène Beaumont (1894 – 1988), an American socialite and close friend of the Duchess of Windsor. She settled on the French Riviera, where she held legendary parties and galas during the magical, hedonistic days of the 1920s and 1930s. The necklace is set with 11 immaculate Colombian emeralds weighing a total of over 75 carats, and is estimated at CHF 2,895,000 – 3,980,000 ($3 - 4 million).

The second is an exquisite diamond tiara attributed to Fabergé, which was created around 1903 for Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954), the last Crown Princess of Prussia, given to her by her Russian relatives on the occasion of her wedding to Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882-1951). The tiara will be offered with an estimate of CHF 200,000 – 300,000 ($200,000 – 300,000).

Speaking about the emerald and diamond necklace, Sotheby’s Worldwide Jewellery Chairman David Bennett said, “This is Art Deco at its absolute finest, a connoisseur’s jewel. Rare and exceptional pieces like these are the reason people collect Jewellery. The first time I laid eyes on this emerald and diamond necklace was exactly 25 years ago when we sold the Hélène Beaumont collection in Geneva. I said at the time that it was the most important row of cabochon emeralds I had seen during my then 20-year career. Today, 25 years on, that statement still holds true.”

Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s Jewellery Chairman, Europe, commented on the tiara, “As we saw last November with Marie Antoinette’s pearl, historic jewels have the power to transport us back to a moment in time. The tiara attributed to Fabergé is another perfect example: its Kokoshnik design reflects Crown Princess Cecilie’s Russian family, who gifted it to her for her wedding; from portraits we can see that she paired the tiara with her gowns in a very fashion-forward way for the very early 1900s. For so many collectors today – who seek out unique pieces with ‘soul’ - this jewel is really a masterpiece.”

Created in the 1930s, this bold and exquisitely crafted emerald and diamond necklace was designed for and worn by Hélène Beaumont (1894 – 1988), a socialite and philanthropist who settled at Villa Eilenroc on the Cap d’Antibes, hosting parties in the 1920s and 30s which were attended by glamorous guests including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Aga Khan.

This emblematic piece is composed of a row of 11 truly outstanding cabochon emeralds, perfectly matched both in colour and proportions. These exceptional gemstones are combined with geometric diamonds in a breathtaking Art Deco design, placing this jewel among the very finest examples of 20th-century Jewellery.

Although it is unsigned - as was not unusual at the time – its beauty and quality suggest that it was made by Van Cleef & Arpels, as were so many other pieces in her collection. In additional to being visually stunning, it is also very versatile; the central emerald and diamond sections of the necklace can be detached and worn as bracelets.

The story of this tiara is intimately bound up with the destiny of Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was to become the last Crown Princess of Prussia. In June 1905, tens of thousands of people flocked to the lavishly decorated capital, Berlin, to witness her wedding. It was the biggest social event of the still-young century. The extravagant celebrations spanned four days and the couple was showered with gifts, including silver, porcelain and even a splendid carriage drawn by Hungarian grey stallions, presented by the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I. Amongst the beautiful jewels bestowed on the newlyweds was a tiara attributed to Fabergé, a stunning gift from Cecilie’s Russian relatives.

The young duchess had joined one of the most important dynasties in Europe. Strikingly beautiful, with jet-black hair and impressive dark eyes, Cecilie quickly became one of the most beloved members of the German Imperial House, particularly admired for her sense of style. Her elegance and fashion-consciousness meant that before long, her style was being copied by women across the Empire.

The auction on 14 May builds on the success of the record-breaking sale of Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family in November 2018, which included jewels from Queen Marie Antoinette (see details here), which set new benchmarks for period jewels with extraordinary provenance, a field pioneered by Sotheby’s. Global demand for exceptional period jewels is at an all-time high, in particular those bearing the signature of the world’s most illustrious Jewellery houses.

Following on from the sale of a spectacular 88.22-carat oval diamond in Hong Kong this month, the May sale in Geneva will offer two exceptional white diamonds. The first, a brilliant-cut stone, weighs 36.57 carats (Estimate CHF 4,720,000 – 5,715,000 / $4,750,000 – 5,750,000); the second is an emeraldcut stone by Harry Winston, weighing 18.86 carats (Estimate CHF 800,000 – 1,200,000 / $800,000 – 1,200,000). Both diamonds are of D Colour – the highest possible colour grading for white diamonds, and belong to the rare subgroup of Type IIa diamonds – which comprises less than 2% of all gem diamonds, including the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamonds which are part of the British Crown Jewels. Type IIa diamonds often boast exceptional optical transparency.

Of Indian inspiration, this delicate jabot pin was created by Cartier and can be dated to around 1925, during the period widely considered to be the pinnacle of the house’s creativity. Set with oval rubies, diamonds and polished onyx, the jewel reflects the important influence of India in Cartier’s work at this time: it is inspired by a traditional ornament which was worn o men’s turban, known as the sarpech (Estimate CHF 180,000 – 280,000 / $180,000 – 280,000).

Also standing out among the highlights in May is a beautiful emerald and diamond necklace created by Janesich in around 1920. Founded in 1835 in Trieste, the Janesich firm was a favourite of the Austrian aristocracy, and later of the Italian bourgeoisie. To this day, the house enjoys renown for creating marvellous jewels, as illustrated by this piece with its delicately carved emeralds depicting bunches of grapes and leaves (Estimate CHF 250,000 – 350,000 / $250,000 – 350,000).

The central sapphire in this stunning ring is from Kashmir – the most sought-after origin for this particular gemstone – and weighs 8.35 carats (Estimate CHF 450,000 – 650,000 / $450,000 – 650,000).

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