01 May 2020

Tutti Frutti Breaks Record at Sotheby's

Sotheby's

A major piece of jewelry broke a sales record at Sotheby's this week, and we've got all the details!




Sotheby's

This gorgeous tutti frutti bracelet was made by Cartier right around 1930. It was offered for sale anonymously at Sotheby's this week by a "distinguished American collector." Further lot notes suggest that the bracelet was owned at one point by the famous Flagler family from Florida.


Sotheby's

Sotheby's provided a detailed description of the bracelet: "Designed as meandering vines, set with old European and single-cut diamonds, featuring carved emeralds, rubies and sapphires, accented by emerald beads, cabochon sapphires and emeralds, highlighted with calibré-cut onyx and black enamel." The onyx and enamel accents give the bracelet extra dimension.


Sotheby's

Here's a closer look at the carved gemstones which are a signature part of the tutti frutti style. The name of the style means "all fruits" in Italian, so appropriately the jewelry includes multicolored gemstones. The first tutti frutti necklace was made in 1901 by Cartier for Queen Alexandra, whose husband, King Edward VII, had just succeeded his mother as monarch. She reportedly needed a necklace to pair with brightly colored gowns made of Indian fabric, and an elaborate necklace that paired diamonds with rubies, emeralds, and sapphires worked perfectly. (Sadly, no photographs of Alexandra wearing the necklace appear to exist today.)


Sotheby's

The lot notes for this particular bracelet explain that all tutti frutti "pieces share the hallmark of Mughal-cut colored stones, but each piece is unique, a variation on a captivating theme." This bracelet is set with particularly vibrant emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.


Sotheby's

Sotheby's also shared a photograph of a model wearing the bracelet, giving us a better visual sense of the size of the piece.


Photo generously shared by reader Javier; do not reproduce

Cartier's tutti frutti jewels were a sensation in the '20s and '30s. Edwina Mountbatten owned this fantastic tutti frutti bandeau-style tiara, which is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The bandeau, which also converts to a pair of bracelets, was a part of the landmark Cartier exhibition in Canberra in 2018.


Embed from Getty Images

One of Cartier's most important tutti frutti creations was the "Hindu" necklace made in 1936 for the heiress Daisy Fellowes. The firm bought the necklace back in 1992, and it's often featured in exhibitions. In August 1994, Princess Caroline of Monaco borrowed the Fellowes tutti frutti necklace from Cartier to wear at the annual Red Cross Ball.


Michel Porro/Getty Images

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands owns her own suite of tutti frutti jewelry. The necklace and bracelet were purchased at Christie's in Amsterdam, perhaps by King Willem Alexander. The bracelet reportedly was purchased for around $32,000, and the necklace for another $35,000, bringing the price tag for Maxima's set to just under $70,000. She debuted the jewels at Willem-Alexander's 40th birthday party in September 2007.


Michel Porro/Getty Images

Here's a closer look at Maxima's tutti frutti necklace...


Michel Porro/Getty Images

...and at the bracelet, which includes an eye-catching diamond "vine" in its design.


Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images

Maxima often mixes her tutti frutti pieces with other ruby, sapphire, and emerald jewels. In May 2018, she wore the necklace with diamond and emerald earrings for a return concert during the state visit to Luxembourg.


Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images

During the same month, she paired the bracelet with ruby and diamond earrings for the Red Ribbon Concert in Amsterdam.


Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images

In April 2018, she innovated even further at a gala dinner for the diplomatic corps, wearing the bracelet with pieces from Queen Juliana's suite of diamond and aquamarine jewels.


Sotheby's

The tutti frutti bracelet sold by Sotheby's this week fetched a much higher price than the one worn by Queen Maxima. Auction estimates for the piece ranged from $600,000-$800,000 USD. When online bidding ended on Tuesday, the bracelet sold for a whopping $1.34 million! The final number makes it the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold online by the famous auction house.