Princely jewels and a Fabergé tiara: Sotheby’s proposes rare pieces have belonged to the European aristocracy ♦ ︎
For those who love fine jewelry, the Fabergé name is like Raphael or Leonardo for art lovers: a champion who has marked a chapter in history. This is why the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction scheduled in Geneva on May 14th is particularly interesting.
Among the jewels on sale, in fact, a diamond tiara attributed to Fabergé stands out, created around 1903 for the duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954), the last hereditary princess of Prussia.
The tiara was given to the princess by her Russian relatives on the occasion of her marriage to Crown Prince William (1882-1951). The diadem has an estimate of 200,000 – 300,000 dollars.
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.
Daniela Mascetti, president of Sotheby’s Jewelry, Europe
The history of this tiara is linked to the fate of the Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who would become the last hereditary princess of Prussia. In June 1905, tens of thousands of people flocked to Berlin, the capital, to attend his marriage. It was the largest social event of the century still young. The extravagant celebrations lasted four days and the couple was showered with gifts, including silver, porcelain and even a splendid carriage drawn by Hungarian gray stallions, presented by the Austrian Emperor, Francesco Giuseppe I. Among the beautiful jewels given to the spouses there was the tiara attributed to Fabergé, an extraordinary gift from Cecilie’s Russian relatives.
But the tiara will not be the most important jewel from the point of view of evaluation. Among the period pieces, for example, there is an Art Deco necklace, attributed to Van Cleef & Arpels. The beautiful necklace is of emeralds and diamonds and was created in the 1930s by Hélène Beaumont (1894 – 1988), an American and friend of the Duchess of Windsor. The necklace has 11 Colombian emeralds for a total of over 75 carats and is estimated at 3-4 million dollars. It is also a very versatile jewel: the central sections of emeralds and diamonds in the necklace can be detached and worn as bracelets.
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.
David Bennett, president of Sotheby’s Worldwide Jewelery
The other jewels
After the sale of a spectacular oval diamond of 88.22 carats in Hong Kong, in Geneva two exceptional white diamonds will be on sale. The first, a brilliant-cut stone, weighs 36.57 carats (estimate 4.7- 5.7 million). Harry Winston’s second emerald cut diamond weighing 18.86 carats is valued up to 1.2 million. Both diamonds are of color D: the highest possible chromatic classification for white diamonds and belong to the rare subgroup of type IIa diamonds – which includes less than 2% of all diamonds, including the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamonds that they are part of the jewels of the British crown. Type IIa diamonds often boast exceptional optical transparency.
Another prominent jewel is an Indian-inspired jabot created by Cartier around 1925, during the period considered the maximum creativity of the house. With oval rubies, diamonds and polished onyx, the jewel reflects the important influence of India in Cartier’s work: it is inspired by a traditional ornament worn on a male turban, known as the sarpech. Another special jewel is a necklace with emeralds and diamonds created by the Maison of Trieste Janesich around 1920. The necklace has delicately carved emeralds depicting bunches of grapes and leaves. Finally, to report a ring with a central Kashmir sapphire of 8.35 carats. Federico Graglia