“Pass the rubies,” said Elizabeth Hirsch, “and pass the salt while you’re at it.”
The well-dressed lunch is a New York tradition that evokes handsome pictures of the Duchess of Windsor at La Caravelle and Gloria Guinness at the Colony. This Monday at Christie’s — where dozens of tweed-girt, fur-trimmed women eyed baubles from the auction house’s Important Jewels sale — felt like a throwback to those balmy times.
“I never leave the office for lunch,” said Mark Badgley, whose spring Badgley Mischka collection made its way around the boardroom on the backs of jewel-slung models. “But to be with all these ladies — that’s lunch on steroids.”
The designers’ more embellished styles don’t exactly call for jewelry, but that didn’t deter the house muse Cornelia Guest.
“Load ’em on,” she wailed.
A carload of ladies from Greenwich came down to join Nathalie Kaplan, Annette Tapert and Carol Mack, who’d been ogling the 10-carat diamond ring perched on her table.
“Wouldn’t it be fun if that were the party favor?” Mack joked.
On Tuesday, Debbie Bancroft invited a group of ladies for pre-Christmas shopping at Chatila, the Madison Avenue jeweler, and on to Swifty’s to talk about the rocks over gravlax and chicken hash.
“That would make quite a stocking stuffer,” Patricia Duff said about one of the hefty Kashmiri sapphires.
Anne Slater, who arrived wearing an outrageous 25-carat diamond ring, was tempted, naturally, but didn’t buy.
“I think I’ll survive with what I’ve got,” she said.

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