Queen Elizabeth II
It’s hardly surprising that, as the Queen of England, you might inherit and receive a rather spectacular private collection of jewels, and in fact our Queen has an entire room to house her treasured trinkets, situated below Buckingham Palace. Highlights include the Timur Ruby, a 352 carat spinel inscribed with the names of the Mughal emperors who were its previous owners, a diamond and sapphire necklace and earrings, known as the Victorian Suite of Sapphire and Diamond set, which were originally designed in 1850 and gifted to the Queen by her father, King George VI, on her wedding day.
There are also cuts of the Cullinan diamond, the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, in the Queen’s private collection. While the two largest cuts are part of the Crown Jewels of the UK – the Cullinan I or ‘Star of Africa’ in the Head of Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross as well as the Cullinan II which is on the Imperial State Crown – Cullinan III and IV form a brooch that was commissioned by Queen Mary on receipt of the diamonds and later gifted to Queen Elizabeth. The brooch enjoyed a rare outing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee summer in 2012, and rumour has it the Queen refers to the brooch as ‘Granny’s chips’.
The actress was known for her love affair with jewellery and amassed an incredible assortment of jewels in her lifetime, largely thanks to her on-off husband Richard Burton. The entire collection was sold through Christie’s New York in 2011. The sale received global attention and the collection of lots, which included rare pieces from the likes of Bulgari, David Webb, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, raised approximately £74.9 million.
Some of the most famous pieces in the collection included La Peregrina, a 16th-century pearl, once owned by Mary Tudor, which was gifted to Taylor and with which Cartier created a pearl, diamond and ruby necklace (it sold for £7.6m); the Krupp diamond ring, a potentially flawless emerald cut diamond ring, which was a gift from Burton in 1968; and a Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring of 8.24 carats, another gift from Burton to Taylor. Burton is said to have promised the actress a ‘perfect’ red ruby, and it was four years before he tucked a small box into the bottom of Taylor’s Christmas stocking, which she nearly missed when opening her gifts. Always check the bottom of your stocking, folks.
Princess Salimah Aga Khan
When former fashion model and debutant, Sarah Frances Croker-Poole, married Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims and one of the richest men in the world, she probably knew it came with its perks. The Princess was soon gifted with a number of original pieces commissioned from the likes of Boucheron and Cartier. Sadly, the fairy tale marriage was not to last and when the couple divorced acrimoniously in the mid-90s, the fate of the Princess’ jewellery collection was at the centre of the dispute.
Princess Salimah Aga Khan, also known as Begum Salimah Aga Khan, wanted the pieces to be auctioned off in order for her to start a charitable foundation, whereas Prince Karim believed they should stay within the Aga Khan family. The Princess won the court battle and the jewels were auctioned through Christie’s Geneva, although some pieces were ordered to be withdrawn from the auction and sold to the Aga Khan. Perhaps the most notable sale was the Begum Blue, a blue heart-shaped diamond of 13.78 carats that formed the centrepiece of a necklace of 41 smaller heart-shaped diamonds. The sale of the collection fetched approx £21.2 million
The Duchess of Windsor
As well as scandalously luring King Edward away from his throne in favour of marrying her, Wallis Simpson also managed to accrue a rather spectacular number of jewels during her 35-year marriage to the subsequent Duke of Windsor. The collection, along with a number of items belonging to the Duke, were auctioned at Sotheby’s Geneva shortly after Wallis’ death in 1987. At the request of the Duchess, the proceeds from the sale, which amounted to around £39 million, were donated to the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was believed to be a gesture of thanks to the Parisian people for taking the couple in after they were banished from England.
The collection included a Cartier charm bracelet featuring nine jewelled crosses engraved with love notes ‘handwritten’ by the Prince, a custom Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond necklace, which was a gift for Wallis’ 40th birthday and which she later had redesigned to feature an additional cascade of rubies down one side of the necklace (it sold for £2 million when it was auctioned in 1987); and a diamond and onyx panther bracelet, also custom-made by Cartier for the Duchess. Rumour has it that Madonna paid £4.5 million for the latter piece of jewellery when it was sold again in 2010.
The Brazilian philanthropist and widow of billionaire banker, Edmond Safra, is well known for her love of fine jewels, taking her search for the highest quality pieces seriously. She is a particular fan of the American jewellery designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal, referred to as ‘the Fabergé of our time’, and the fine jewellery house JAR he founded in Paris. In 2012 she auctioned 18 of his pieces as part of a larger sale; the individual collection of jewels was the largest number ever to be presented at auction.
At the same sale, known as the Jewels for Hope auction, Mrs Safra sold approximately 70 items from her personal collection, including a 34.05 carat rectangular-cut, potentially flawless, diamond ring, a 32.08 carat cushion-shaped Burmese ruby, which she had previously bought from the aforementioned Countess Guy du Boisrouvray, and which had been mounted on a ring by Chaumet, and two internally flawless pear-shaped diamond ear clips of 19.16 and 19.43 carats.
The proceeds from the sale reached nearly £30 million and were gifted to 32 different charitable organisations in the name of The Lily Safra Foundation.
Repost from www.tatlers.com, post by Tory Kingdon