News keeps breaking about the jewels being offered at this November’s Magnificent Jewels auction at Christie’s in Geneva! First, we heard all about Marie Antoinette’s diamond bracelets, and last week, we learned that another bracelet with an impressive royal provenance will also be part of the sale.
The bracelet included in the sale comes from the collection of the Duchess of Windsor. Rubies and diamonds were some of her favorite stones, and the Duke loved to gift her with pieces set with the gems. In 1936, he gave her several pieces of ruby and diamond jewelry. Before the abdication, when he was still King Edward VIII, David sent her a diamond and ruby bracelet inscribed with the phrase “Hold Tight.”
For Christmas the same year, he gifted her a brooch in the shape of a pair of ruby and diamond feathers from Van Cleef & Arpels. And to mark her birthday that year, he presented her with an elaborate diamond and ruby necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels, inscribed with the message “My Wallis from her David” on the clasp. (She later had the necklace redesigned, and the final version included a spectacular ruby-set tassel.)
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor married in France on June 3, 1937. A year later, on their first wedding anniversary, they celebrated on holiday at the Villa La Croë on the French Riviera. During the trip, David presented Wallis with yet another ruby jewel: a bangle bracelet featuring two ruby and diamond clusters. Like so many jewels he gave her, the bracelet has an inscription: “For our first anniversary of June third.”
The bracelet was made by Cartier. The two clusters had originally been part of a necklace. A press release from Christie’s notes, “This bangle is a sleek and sophisticated reinterpretation of the Art Deco style. Very avant-garde, it is one of Cartier’s most unusual designs which never cease to surprise by their simplicity.”
Wallis was photographed in the bracelet multiple times. Above, in 1948, she wears the bracelet over a black velvet evening glove at the Paramount Theater in Palm Beach, Florida. Her ruby and diamond feather brooch is pinned to the bodice of her gown.
And here, she wears the bracelet on her right wrist while dancing with the Duke at a New York hotel on December 31, 1949. The couple rang in the new year, 1950, at the Sherry-Netherland on Fifth Avenue. You’ll note that Wallis is also wearing another ruby gift from her husband: the ruby and diamond tassel necklace.
Wallis died in 1986, and in 1987, a major auction of her jewelry took place at Sotheby’s. The diamond and ruby bangle was a part of that sale. Now, the piece is being sold once more, in its first public sale since the 1987 auction. In the 1980s, the couple’s romantic love story helped drive up the prices of the jewels sold at Sotheby’s. It’ll be interesting to see whether more recent reassessments of the Duke and Duchess’s characters (especially their wartime associations) will have any effect on the price of the bracelet this time around.
Christie’s does not seem to anticipate any negative effects on the upcoming sale, calling the bracelet one of the “season’s highlights.” The piece will be auctioned, alongside Marie Antoinette’s diamond bracelets, at the Four Season Hotel des Bergues in Geneva on November 9. The auction estimate is set at between 1,000,000-2,000,000 Swiss francs (or around $1.07-2.14 million USD).