30 October 2019

On the Block: Lady Smith's Cartier Tiara

Sotheby's

Next month's Magnificent Jewels auction at Sotheby's in Geneva is turning out to be quite a glittering affair. Along with Princess Salimah's emeralds, the sale also includes numerous tiaras. Today, we've got a closer look at one of them: the Cartier sparkler owned by the late Lady Smith.




Sotheby's

The tiara was made by Cartier in the 1930s. The piece is convertible, able to be taken off the tiara frame and worn as a necklace. Additionally, the central element can be removed completely and worn as a brooch. The brooch fitting is included in the sale, as well as the tiara frame -- plus the tiny screwdriver needed to attach the pieces to the various fittings.


Sotheby's

The tiara belonged to Lady Smith, wife of Conservative MP Sir John Smith. Sir John also followed in his family tradition by working in banking, becoming director of Coutts. He met his wife, Christian Carnegy, when they were both students at Oxford after the war.


Sotheby's

Sir John's political career meant that his wife had plenty of opportunities to wear a tiara, and the lot notes from Sotheby's confirm that the jewel was worn for "several State Openings of Parliament and State Banquets." (His family connections also drew them close to the royal circle: Sir John's sister, Fortune, married the 11th Duke of Grafton and served as Lady of the Bedchamber and Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth II.)


Sotheby's

Even though Christian's marriage brought her into a sparkling social circle, the tiara wasn't purchased for her or inherited from the Smiths. Instead, Christian inherited the jewel from her mother, Violet, who died in 1965.


Sotheby's

Lady Smith died in October 2018 at the age of 91, and this sale at Sotheby's is a part of the auction of her estate. When the hammer falls on November 13, the tiara is expected to fetch between 200,000-300,000 pounds ($250,000 and $370,000 USD).