A sentimental Cartier brooch from Princess Margaret’s collection is being sold at auction this week—for the second time since her passing two decades ago.
Christie’s will offer a gem-set, diamond, and enamel clip brooch from the collection of the late Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon in an online auction set to close on November 25. The brooch is described as a “giardinetto,” or “little garden.” It features four gemstone flowers set in a small flowerpot.
The clip brooch was made by Cartier in the late 1930s. The lot notes from the auction describe the piece as an “enamel ‘terracotta’ pot” with “carved citrine, almandine garnet, peridot and pink tourmaline flowers, [and] single-cut diamonds.” The brooch is signed by Cartier London and numbered, and it comes in a fitted Cartier case.
The brooch was purchased on September 9, 1938, by one of Cartier’s best royal customers, King George VI. The jewel was a gift for his younger daughter, Princess Margaret. He charged the purchase to his Cartier account, which Christie’s notes that opened back in August 1922, shortly before Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon agreed to marry him.
Here’s a closer look at the clip brooch. I find the “terracotta” enamel pot particularly charming, because it looks so realistically weathered. The citrine, garnet, tourmaline, and peridot blossoms feature delicate carving.
Christie’s also allows us a view of the back of the brooch, showing the clip fitting, as well as the Cartier London signature. Princess Margaret’s royal monogram is also engraved on the back of the jewel.
The piece is rather childlike, but there’s good reason for that: little Margaret was only eight years old when her father gave her the brooch. She’s pictured here just a few weeks later, in October 1938, with her sister in Scotland.
This isn’t the first time that the brooch has been sold at auction. It was also included in the large sale of items from Margaret’s estate back in June 2006. The certificate of authenticity provided by Kensington Palace that accompanies the brooch in this week’s auction comes from that earlier sale. In 2006, the auction estimate for the clip brooch was £3,000-4,000 GBP. It fetched much more than that, bringing in £38,400.
The auction estimate for the brooch this time around is much more in line with the price it fetched in 2006: £30,000-40,000 GBP. The auction closes at 11 AM London time on Friday, November 25, so if you’re interested in purchasing a piece of Princess Margaret’s royal history, you’ve still got a few days left to bid.
Scheduling note: The South African state visit begins in London today, and we’ll have posts later on today dedicated to the arrival jewels and the state banquet jewels. I’m also planning to cover the Guildhall banquet on Wednesday evening if I can license images from that event. Each article will be published after photographs become available. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can view the program for the state visit here.