THE DUCHESS’ JEWELS: 20 statement pieces from the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry collection will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London in November. The collection, which is expected to fetch a total of around 3 million pounds, or $4.6 million at current exchange rates, includes pieces like an onyx and diamond panther bracelet designed by Jeanne Toussaint for Cartier in 1952, which has an estimate of up to 1.5 million pounds, or $2.3 million.
Also going under the hammer is a brooch in a flamingo design with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrines and diamonds, which is estimated to fetch a similar amount. The November 30 sale will also feature love tokens which the Duke and Duchess of Windsor gave to one another, such as an 18 carat gold and gem set cigarette case, engraved with a map of Europe with diamonds or cabochon gems representing significant locations for the couple. The case, which has an estimate of up to 200,000 pounds, or $306,000, is inscribed, “David from Wallis Christmas 1935.” Simpson referred to Edward as David, one of his middle names, as did close members of his family.
David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry in Europe and the Middle East, said: “The offering comprises not only incomparable examples of the genius of Cartier in collaboration with the Windsors, but also pieces whose inscriptions tell the story of perhaps the greatest love story of the 20th century, the romance that led Edward VIII to abdicate the throne of Great Britain.” The sale marks the first time that Wallis Simpson’s collection of jewels has been up for auction since 1987, when a selection of her jewels sold by Sotheby’s to benefit the Institut Pasteur fetched $50 million, which remains a record for a single owner jewelry sale. The jewels for auction were all part of the original sale, but have since returned to the market, a spokesman for Sotheby’s said. Sotheby’s declined to say who the pieces are being sold by.