Rapaport Magazine

The Great Estates

Stunning jewels from royalty, celebrities and the megawealthy make for some of the most notable auctions.

By Ettagale Blauer
Provenance, whether royal or celebrity, romantic or regal, is at the heart of a great jewelry auction. Since the sale of the jewels and accessories of the Duchess of Windsor in 1987, the phenomenon of major jewelry collections being sold at auction has given gems and jewels prominence while, at the same time, allowing anyone to have a peek into the lives, both private and public, of iconic figures. Some sales are noteworthy not only for the person who owned and wore the jewelry but also for the reasons the items were put up for auction. Charities have benefited, ex-husbands have been spited and the ends of eras have been marked through these landmark public sales. For 24 years, no sale surpassed that of the Duchess of Windsor. Then, in 2011, that record was smashed, possibly for all time, by the Elizabeth Taylor auction. 
   Following, arranged in the order of their auction totals, are individual-owner jewelry estate auctions chosen for their high visibility and name recognition.
Left: Duchess of Windsor wearing the flamingo brooch by Cartier. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2013. To subscribe click here.