12 November 2019

Lady Granard's Diamonds

Christie's

Today in Geneva, Christie's will auction an impressive collection of jewels that belonged to an intriguing British aristocrat. Here's a closer look at the jewels that once belonged to Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard.




Lady Granard, ca. 1910 (Bain News Service/Wikimedia Commons)

Born Jane Beatrice Mills in Newport, Rhode Island, Lady Granard was one of the group of American heiresses known as "the Buccaneers." At the turn of the twentieth-century, the fortunes of the Buccaneers helped shore up the estates and lifestyles of the British aristocrats who married them. Beatrice was twenty-five when she married Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard in 1909. Bernard was involved in both British and Irish politics, and his influence brought him into the royal household; he served as Master of the Horse to Kings Edward VII and George V.

Beatrice came from an equestrian family as well. Her father, the financier Ogden Mills, bred horses at their estate, and her sister and brother-in-law established one of the most important racing operations in America. She inherited her father's stable of horses when he died in 1929, and her horses subsequently won some of the most prestigious races in Europe.


Christie's

Beatrice's life spanned from the late Victorian era all the way to the 1970s, and her jewelry collection reflected the shifting tastes that spanned that period. The first lot in the auction is this pair of diamond and gold bracelets from Boucheron, which can also be linked together and worn as a necklace. The pair are expected to bring between $25,000-35,000 USD.


Christie's

These sleek diamond brooches were made in France in the 1930s, and their design reflects the Art Deco style prominent during that era. All three brooches feature circular and baguette-cut diamonds set in platinum and gold. The trio is estimated to sell for between $15,000-20,000 USD.


Christie's

This stunning emerald and diamond ring, made of platinum and gold, is a size seven, for those who might be looking for a Cinderella-esque jewelry moment!


Christie's

Here's a closer look at the impressive cabochon emerald set in the ring. The ring's auction estimate is set between $10,000-15,000 USD.


Christie's

These diamond and pearl earrings were made in the 1960s, near the end of Beatrice's life. They're some of the most affordable jewels in the auction (expected to bring between $8,000-12,000 USD), primarily because the pearl drops are cultured.


Christie's

The auction also features this mid-century diamond bracelet, made in France in the 1950s and typical of the designs of that decade. The bracelet features circular and baguette-cut diamonds set in platinum and gold, and it's anticipated to sell for between $30,000-40,000 USD.

Christie's

All of these jewels are advertised as "the Property of a Lady of Title" in the auction notes, and two of the pieces have been sold previously in a notable auction. One of them is this lovely Art Deco diamond and platinum bracelet, which was auctioned in 1994 at Christie's in St. Moritz. The bracelet, which was made in the 1930s, is expected to bring between $20,000-30,000 USD this time around.



Christie's

Also included in that 1994 sale were these three diamond, platinum, and gold brooches. These are clearly positioned as the star lot in this group. Christie's describes them as: "old pear-shaped diamond of 13.74 carats, cushion-shaped diamonds of 7.54 and 6.15 carats, old and circular-cut diamonds, platinum and gold." The brooches, made by Cartier, were originally part of a tiara made for Lady Granard in 1937 and worn at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth that year.

The tiara was a whopper of a diadem. In Tiaras: Past and Present, Geoffrey Munn describes it as a "truly magnificent tiara of oriental inspiration," set with diamonds and sapphires. Munn adds, "Brilliant and pear-shaped stones of great value are incorporated into the design; some are old-cut, and must have come from the Granard family collection." (You can see an image of the tiara here.)


Christie's

The three diamond clip-style brooches featured in this auction were the central element and two of the side elements from that tiara. Now, they're able to be worn independently, or on a "later imitation pearl and diamond setting" as a necklace, illustrated above. The lot notes state that "Christie’s is honoured to offer these beautiful Art Deco brooches, rare witnesses of a bygone era." They're expecting a big moment for these, setting the auction estimate at between $180,000-220,000 USD.