21 August 2019

The Rockefeller Peridots

Christie's

It's always fun to try to pack as much peridot content into the August posting schedule as possible, and today I've got some stunning mid-century jewels set with the olive-hued stone: the Rockefeller Peridots.




Peggy Rockefeller, David Rockefeller, and Lady Bird Johnson at the re-opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, May 1964 (Phillip Harrington/Alamy)

The jewels belonged to Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, the wife of David Rockefeller, a billionaire banker and grandson of John D. Rockefeller Sr. She died in 1996, and after David's death in 2017, an enormous charity auction was held at Christie's with treasures from their estate. The peridots were among the jewels included in the sale.


Christie's

The peridot and diamond set was made in 1965 and 1966 in New York by Van Cleef and Arpels, and each piece in the suite is signed. The necklace was even nestled in its own gray suede jewelry case from the jewelry firm.


Christie's

The entire suite, which is set in 18k yellow gold, is an excellent example of typical mid-century design by VCA. The necklace features a detachable pendant that can also be worn as a brooch.


Christie's

The earrings feature large peridots set in the stud portion of the jewel, as well as even larger pear-shaped peridot drops.


Christie's

Both the earrings and the bracelet feature distinctive leaf designs set with diamonds.


Christie's

The set also featured an impressive peridot ring surrounded by a double halo of diamonds.


Christie's

The auction estimate for the demi-parure was set at $80,000-$120,000. When the hammer fell at the auction in June 2018, however, the set fetched a much more impressive price: $348,500. And this time, we know who the buyer was: Van Cleef and Arpels! Since the auction, the peridots have gone on public display, including an exhibition in Moscow.


Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Christie's called the sale "the most significant charity auction ever staged," with the collection of art, jewels, and other objects fetching an incredible $832,573,469. (One of my favorite pieces sold was Claude Monet’s NymphĂ©as en fleur, which broke a record at $84,687,500!) All of the estate's proceeds went to fund twelve philanthropic initiatives. Their son, David Rockefeller Jr., noted, "These funds will provide very meaningful support to important institutions and foundations devoted to scientific research and higher education, support for the arts, foreign policy, and the conservation of coastal and agricultural lands."