24 April 2014

On the Block: Royal Jewels at Sotheby's

Next month, a collection of jewelry will be going up for sale at Sotheby's in Geneva that includes a number of items owned by royals. Here's a rundown of some of the lots that may be of interest to all of you -- including a couple of mysterious items with anonymous royal connections.
  • The Rosenborg Kokoshnik Tiara (Lot 450). After failing to sell at auction at Bukowski's, the garnet, diamond, and pearl kokoshnik tiara that belongs to a junior noble branch of the Danish royal family is up for sale once more. The price of the tiara, which was made in the 1930s by Dragsted, has been significantly reduced from its last offering. The most recent wearer of the tiara was Countess Ruth of Rosenborg, who died in 2010. The family is descended from Prince Axel of Denmark (a grandson of King Christian IX) and Princess Margaretha of Sweden (the sister of Crown Princess Martha of Norway and Queen Astrid of Belgium).
  • The Pearls of the House of Orange (Lot 384). This necklace, made of pearls with a sapphire and diamond clasp, is being sold by Prince Eduard of Anhalt. The pearls belong to descendants of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and his wife, Princess Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. The clasp of the necklace was reportedly added during the Napoleonic era.
  • The Staatholder Pearl (Lot 385). Also from the Anhalt collection, the natural pearl pendant on this necklace is another legacy from the House of Orange. It was worn by Henriette Catherine of Nassau at her wedding to Prince John George II of Anhalt-Dessau in 1659, and has been worn by family brides up to the 1960s. (Additionally, the Anhalts are also offering a diamond and Ceylon sapphire ring, dated to the 19th century, in the sale.)
  • The Dowager German Empress's Pendant (Lot 382). This pearl and diamond pendant, which dates to the late 19th century, was part of the jewelry collection of Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, the second wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
Along with these pieces, all of which advertise their royal provenance as a part of the auction notes, the sale also contains these pieces, being auctioned anonymously by royals:
  • A Diamond and Pearl Floral Brooch (Lot 326). Offered by "a member of a royal family." The late 19th century brooch is described as "a floral spray brooch accented with natural pearls and pear-, cushion-shaped, circular-, single-cut and rose diamonds."
  • A Synthetic Sapphire and Diamond Demi-Parure (Lot 325). Also offered by "a member of a royal family." (Possibly the same royal, given the consecutive lot numbers?) The demi-parure consists of two pieces, a necklace and a bracelet, "composed of alternating pinched collet-set circular-cut synthetic sapphires and diamonds." Additionally, the necklace has five detachable pendant drops.
  • A Yellow Diamond Demi-Parure (Lot 488). Part of "a royal private collection." Made by Harry Winston, this demi-parure consists of four pieces: a necklace, earrings, a bracelet, and a ring. (Which, if you ask me, makes it a complete parure, but I'm not in charge of the lot notes at Sotheby's.) Most of the diamonds are described as having a "yellow tint," but the ring is set with a 16-carat fancy yellow pear-shaped diamond.
  • An Emerald and Diamond Parure (Lot 489). Also part of "a royal private collection" (surely the same one as the previous lot). The set includes a necklace, a ring, and earrings. The emerald set in the diamond necklace is a 53-carat Colombian emerald; the emeralds set in the ring and earrings are heart-shaped.
So, if you had a spare bundle of cash laying about, which one of these lots would you bid on? Are you surprised that some of these pieces are being auctioned? And -- most importantly -- which royals do you think are selling their bling anonymously???