Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Duchess of Windsor auction at Sotheby's




"You can never be too rich or too thin"

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
(1896-1986)

That has to be one of my favourite quotes.  It amuses me although I don't agree - you can be too thin and I have very little regard for money.  It should say "... and you can never have too much bling!"  I really can't refer to any of this as bling as it contains some of the most glorious items in the world.

Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor had amazing style and brilliant taste in fine jewellery.  Billed as the most important collection of the 20th century, more of her unique pieces go on sale this evening at Sotheby's.  The last auction of the Duchess of Windsor's collection raised a staggering £43 million more than estimated.

Some of her most iconic pieces, all made for her by the finest jewellers in Paris are included in the sale.  Each piece has a fantastic history, marking many personal events in the Duke and Duchesses lives.

My favourite piece has always been the platinum, diamond and onyx panther bracelet.  All the Cartier panther jewellery she owned was amazing. I'd absolutely love to know who buys it!

Exceptional Jewels and Precious Objects Formerly in the Collection of The Duchess of Windsor
Sotheby's London, 30th November 2010 at 7pm


This bracelet is a stunning feat of engineering, it even moves like a panther

Details from Sotheby's catalogue

THE ONYX AND DIAMOND PANTHER BRACELET, CARTIER, PARIS, 1952

The articulated body designed to encircle the wrist and to assume a stalking attitude, pavé-set with brilliant- and single-cut diamonds and calibré-cut onyx, the eyes each set with a marquise-shaped emerald, wearing length approximately 165mm, total length approximately 195mm, signed Cartier, Paris and numbered, French assay and maker's marks; the bracelet divides in two places, under the head and in the centre of the back, the tongue-piece of the latter inscribed, Cartier, Paris; the clasp numbered, several small stones deficient.

Estimate £1,000,000—1,500,000 GBP


 THE RUBY, CITRINE AND DIAMOND FLAMINGO CLIP, MOUNTED BY CARTIER, PARIS, 1940

Designed as a flamingo in a characteristic pose, the plumage set with calibré-cut emeralds, rubies and sapphires, the beak set with a cabochon citrine and sapphire, the eye set with a similarly cut sapphire, the head, neck, body and hinged legs pavé-set with circular-, brilliant- and single-cut diamonds, measuring approximately 95mm x 65mm x 22mm, signed to the clasp MONTURE Cartier and indistinctly numbered, French assay and maker's marks.

Estimate £1,000,000—1,500,000 GBP


THE EMERALD, RUBY AND DIAMOND 20TH ANNIVERSARY BROOCH, MOUNTED BY CARTIER, PARIS, 1957

Of heart-shaped design, applied to the centre with a monogram of the initials W and E set with calibré-cut emeralds, above the Roman numeral XX set with calibré-cut rubies, surmounted by a Royal Duke's coronet similarly set, to a background pavé-set with brilliant- and single-cut diamonds, measuring approximately 34mm x 38mm x 10mm, Cartier maker's mark and numbered, French assay marks

Estimate £100,000—150,000 GBP


THE GOLD AND DIAMOND NÉCESSAIRE DU SOIR, CARTIER, PARIS, December 1947

In the form of an egg with twisted ropework borders, the front engraved with the armorial bearings of His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor, the reverse with a monogram of the initials WW for Wallis Windsor below a Royal Ducal coronet, the thumbpiece collet-set with a rose diamond, suspended from a pendant ring accented with single-cut diamonds, opening to reveal a single lidded compartment with a mirror and feather powder puff, measurements approximately: overall length 125mm, case length 85mm, width 61mm, depth 55mm, signed Cartier Paris, French assay marks and maker's marks.

Estimate £70,000—90,000 GBP

THE GOLD AND DIAMOND NÉCESSAIRE DU SOIR, CARTIER, PARIS, 1947

The cylindrical case, of reeded design, applied with butterfly and flower head motifs the outlines collet-set with single-cut diamonds, the interior inscribed and dated: Wallis from Edward 1947, the single-cut diamond set thumb piece, opening to reveal a mirrored interior with a lidded powder compartment containing a feather powder puff and another compartment, measurements approximately: length 150mm, width 55mm, depth 45mm, signed Cartier, FRANCE, French assay and maker's marks.

Estimate £50,000—70,000 GBP

This is the most personal piece from the collection

THE GEM-SET AND DIAMOND CROSS BRACELET, CARTIER, 1934-1944

The chain bracelet spectacle-set with circular- and brilliant-cut diamonds, suspending nine gem-set Latin crosses, to a navette-shaped clasp, length approximately 190mm, signed Cartier, French assay and maker's marks.  Comprising - 

• A cross set with calibré-cut sapphires, emeralds, one similarly cut ruby and a baguette diamond, inscribed and dated: Our marriage Cross Wallis 3.VI.37 David, slightly imperfect.
• A cross set with calibré-cut aquamarines, inscribed and dated: God save the King for Wallis. 16.VII.36.
• A cross set with calibré-cut amethyst, inscribed and dated: Appendectomy Cross Wallis 31-VIII-44 David.
• A cross set with calibré-cut emeralds, inscribed and dated: X Ray Cross Wallis – David 10.7.36.
• A cross set with baguette diamonds, inscribed and dated: The Kings (sic) Cross God bless WE 1-3-36.
• A cross set with calibré-cut rubies, inscribed and dated : Wallis – David St Wolfgang 22-9-3.
• A cross set with calibré-cut yellow sapphires, inscribed and dated : "Get Well" Cross Wallis Sept. 1944 David.
• A cross set with calibré-cut sapphires, inscribed and dated : Wallis – David 23-6-35.
• A cross in platinum, inscribed and dated: WE are too (sic) 25-XI-34

Estimate £350,000—450,000 GBP

This is one of my favourite pictures of the Duke and Duchess


This film really gives some fabulous detail about each piece and some lovely details about the couple's four decade romance


The auction is tonight at 7pm



42 comments:

Miss Peelpants said...

I don't wear a lot of jewellery but I would totally make the exception for that panther!!

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Miss Peelpants, absolutely! I don't wear bracelets but I wouldn't say no to that one! It's fabulous isn't it? xx

Dash said...

Blooming heck Christina, we must have ESP, have just done a similar sort of post, not about Wallace though!
XXX

Vintage Vixen said...

Dear Christina, if Liz's having the panther bracelet, can I reserve the flamingo brooch? Such fabulously iconic pieces, I remember the copies back in the 1980's.
It was fab to talk yesterday, I kept blathering on about you to Jon all last night, I bet your ears were burning.
Now you've got the snow hope you're feeling full of the festive spirit today. xxx

MyStyle said...

Hi my dear-wow, to own one of these pieces would be so awesome, lol!! They are beyond stunning and true lifetime investment pieces, sigh...

Dash said...

Wallace!!, I meant Wallis, God my spelling is awful, just heard on the news you have snow in London, enjoy.
X

Poetry Is Life said...

i wish i owned thjings like this

Ivy Black said...

I love that panther bracelet. She certainly did have fine taste.x

sacramento said...

What a lot of beauties!!!
I knew the famolus frase, but I didn´t know who said it.
Thank you my friend.
Un abrazo
XXXXXXXXXXX

SabinePsynopsis said...

Oh, I just heard about this auction on radio 4. The pieces are amaaaaazing. Although like you I don't agree with her famous quote, there is something extremely charming about the boldness of her words, no?

Eating Diamonds said...

Doesn't Gillian Anderson make such a fabulous Wallis Simpson in Any Human Heart?

Smashingbird said...

amaaaazing, wouldn't mind a few million to drop on some of those pieces!

Penny Dreadful said...

Didn't she have amazing taste - the only person in that family with REAL style, and they kicked her out! Crazy people. xx

Wildernesschic said...

I loved her style and jewellery.. watching that drama on C4 Any Human Heart .. I know its fiction but I bet she was a spoilt bitch too and so I don't really like her...but then she wont care :) ...Loved that era xx

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Yeah, I'm with you--the panther is the best of the lot.

I think that bitch was homely as hell. Don't know what he saw in her. Maybe she gave really good blow jobs.

Alex said...

Dare I confess that I don't like her? I probably should see them as a great pair of romantics but I just can't.

I can definitely admire her taste in jewellery though. The panther is unbelievable - it looks so real, as if it's about to slither out of the screen and chase me.

So sad that it's all up for sale. I know it's worth an absolute fortune but if I was the owner of something as deeply personal as that beautiful cross bracelet I really don't think I could bring myself to sell it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the cross bracelet please?.... Or the panther??... God, what romance?!! What history?!! What jewels?!!
Note to self: must drop massive hints to husband...

Kate Magowan said...

That was me, by the way darling! Not sure why I came out anonymous?! xx

Caroline, No. said...

Good god. That bracelet. The inscriptions. I just about died. I need to read that book! xx

Alison Cross said...

I am thoroughly enjoying Any Other Heart with the divine Matthew McFadyen and Wallace and David are significant characters in the drama.

I am also v much looking forward to The King's Speech with Colin Firth.

So the sale is bang on the zeitgeist for Wallace Simpson in the UK.

I didn't much care for either of them as people. And I must say, I'll be taking issue with Tertarus when he gets home in December for failing to buy me a ruby cross when my appendix burst.

Great post!

Ali x

Alison Cross said...

oh forfug'sakes...I meant Any Human Heart. I think.

MilaneseGAL said...

She had wit, she had style! The jewels ? Frosting on the cake! What an incredible persona she was.....

little augury said...

It seems beyond our imaginations now that this was a real woman of flesh and blood- Surely she was likable on days and had her bad days too-just like us all. She unlike some, as MilaneseGal, says had wit and style, and the jewels.

Helga! said...

Oooo,I'd like to play with that lot,despite not really being into "good"jewellery!(I like ethnic or trashy!) That heart shaped brooch appeals to me rather a lot,and the panther totally sums the woman up!!! Curious woman,actually,I'm intrigued,as many are,by a woman magnetic enough to abdicate for!!! She certainly had posh taste in jewels!!!
I wonder if she had glittery shoes.....
XXX (you're fab! and I'm soooo jealous that Vix is going to come stay....:( I'm so far away.....)

Mrs P said...

I heard the prices this morning on the radio - the panther bracelet went for a huge amount - it is very current though isn't it? I would love to own it, or even a copy. I watched Any Human Heart last night and couldn't work out who the actress playing Wallis was - now I know Gillian Anderson. They do seem a bit kooky don't they? Thanks again for a great post x

abendkleid said...

I know it's worth an absolute fortune but if I was the owner of something as deeply personal as that beautiful cross bracelet I really don't think I could bring myself to sell it.

R4 DS said...

These jewellery is absolutely very fantastic.when he gets home in December for failing to buy me a ruby cross when my appendix burst.These all are great to know about it.

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Michael L C said...

Just found out about the upcoming London auction (Mar 17th)of some of Wallis' handbags and clothes. Found your blog and had to comment about how Fabulous her taste was and still is. I was one of the lucky bidders at the New York auction in Feb 1998. I purchased her silver gilt kitchen measuring spoon set which was a gift from her friend Elsie De Wolfe (aka Lady Mendle).
Wish I could have afforded some of her jewelry too, but it sure is nice to cook up something special using the measuring spoons she used when she did chafing dish cookery at the table !

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