It’s a big story, the jewels and their place in the life of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
We all know, I think, the bigger story, the defining event in both their lives – the abdication of Edward VIII. This monarch chose love and an individual relationship above the ceremonial role he performed as the King of the United Kingdom, when he decided to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced woman, and triggered a constitutional crisis that polarised the nation.
The focus of this small part of their story is on two of the pieces of jewelry gifted to The Duchess by her husband the Duke of Windsor.
Firstly as a 1954 Christmas gift, a Cartier torsade bracelet combining an unusual and bold combination of colours, using amethyst, turquoise and diamonds, auctioned for the first time with the full collection of Windsor jewels in 1987 after the death of the Duchess.
It passed through various owners and sales until in 2014, Cartier bought it for their Cartier Tradition collection. After (for want of a better word) re-conditioning the piece, which is now all sparkly and renewed, it was put up for auction again in 2016. This is how it looks at the present time…
Here are catalogue notes and below that, the image from the 2013 Sotheby’s auction where it changed hands prior to the 2014 acquisition by Cartier:
Amethyst, turquoise and diamond bracelet, Cartier, 1954
Designed as five rows of amethyst and two rows of turquoise beads, to a star-shaped clasp, set at the centre with an hexagonal amethyst within a turquoise and diamond border, accented with circular-cut diamonds, length approximately 210mm, signed Cartier, numbered, French assay marks.
It’s quite clear that the turquoise beads of the original bracelet have been changed to better match those used in the ”star” component of the original.
At this auction, Sotheby’s created a video featuring a few of the important jewels to be auctioned, and you can see this bracelet in the video below:
Over the page to see the matching bib necklace commissioned by the Duke several years earlier, in 1947.