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Sotheby's: Calvin, Kelly Klein to Sell Pearls, Diamonds from Duchess of Windsor

Sep 21, 2007 10:50 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Sotheby's New York will offer three lots of magnificent natural pearl and diamond jewels from the collection of Kelly and Calvin Klein on December 4. The auction house calls the offerings of historical importance as the Kleins purchased the pieces during a 1987 Sotheby's Geneva auction of jewels from the Duchess of Windsor collection.

Sotheby's describes the top offerings as a single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace (est. $1.5 million to $2 million,) a natural pearl and diamond pendant (est. $400,000 to $600,000,) and a pair of black and white natural pearl and diamond earclips (est. $300,000 to $500,000.)

In the 20 years since the Windsor sale, few pieces from that incomparable collection have been re-offered at auction, and none as significant as the iconic natural pearls acquired by the Kleins. The pearls will be featured extensively worldwide in a pre-sale exhibition before the December sale. Duchess of Windsor

The necklace, pendant, and earclips will be offered as three lots in Sotheby’s December sale of Magnificent Jewels and carry a combined estimate of $2.2 million to $3.1 million.

In 1987 Calvin bought the natural pearl jewels from the Duchess of Windsor’s collection for Kelly, because of their extraordinary quality and provenance and classic style, Sotheby's stated. The Duchess of Windsor was often photographed wearing the necklace and pendant. The single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace by Cartier, Paris, once belonged to Queen Mary, wife of King George V, who gifted it to her son, the Duke of Windsor.

“These pearls hold a very special place in my heart,” Kelly said. “They were a present from Calvin early on in our relationship. They represent passion, tenderness and a promise about the future. Pearls, in my mind, are different from diamonds or gold. They are warm, mysterious, a small miracle created by nature. They should be worn close to the skin, imbued with the essence of the wearer. It is my hope they will be given again, as they have been in the past, as a gesture of love and worn often and proudly.”

Lisa Hubbard, chairman of North and South America's international jewelry department for Sotheby's, said,  “The sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of was the definitive iconic auction. Her jewels, in some cases literally with small inscriptions, spoke of the romance they celebrated and the glamorous lifestyle she shared with the Duke of Windsor. We are honored to be able to offer to a new generation of collectors these magnificent pearls on behalf of Kelly and Calvin Klein, with whom they have resided for the past 20 years. The classic style for which the Kleins are known has immeasurably added to the tale these jewels have to tell. Their beauty and rarity, and historic provenance, are a unique combination that will appeal to a worldwide audience of connoisseurs who seek to own the best of the best.”

The single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace is composed of 28 natural pearls graduating from approximately 16.8 to 9.2 mm., completed by an oval clasp set with 2 emerald-cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats and 2 fancy-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 1.00 carat, bordered by 20 small round diamonds weighing approximately 0.70 carat. The length of the necklace is 14 inches, with a clasp signed Cartier, Paris. The necklace was lot 65 in the 1987 sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor.

The natural pearl and diamond pendant, Cartier, Paris, circa 1950, may be worn as a drop on the aforementioned necklace. The large natural pearl drop of slightly baroque form measures approximately 18.4 mm. in diameter, drilled and capped by single-cut and round diamonds, on a detachable stirrup-shaped diamond-set pendant fitting. The pearl is stated to weigh 190.60 grains. This natural pearl pendant was sold to the current owners as lot 67 in the sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor in 1987.

The collection also includes a pair of black and white natural pearl and diamond earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, 1957. According to the archives of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York, these earclips were made in 1957 and purchased the following year. Offered in the sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor as lot 66, the earclips, mounted in white gold, are set with a black pearl measuring approximately 18.2 mm. and a white pearl measuring approximately 18.1 mm., within borders of 32 pear-shaped and 64 round diamonds, weighing a total of approximately 9.25 carats.


The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, 1987

On April 2, 1987, the personal jewelry collection of the late Duchess of Windsor, comprising magnificent examples of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston jewels, was sold for $50.3 million, seven times the presale estimate and a standing world record for any single-owner jewelry sale.

The unique collection brought to life the relationship of the Duke and Duchess, which was hailed the romance of the century. Many of the pieces were collaborative efforts between the jewelers and the Duke, who had an exemplary eye and a taste for creating innovative style. The elegant Duchess was for many years one of the world’s best dressed women, and she selected fashions as backdrops for the jewels loved by both her and the Duke. It was these elements of history, quality, design and romance that drew international buyers such as the Kleins to participate in the auction twenty years ago.

Intense bidding was relayed simultaneously in a tent overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland and in Sotheby’s New York salesroom, and many items sold for up to ten times their expected price.

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Tags: Harry Winston, Jewelry, Sotheby's
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