The Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Lover's Knot tiara

In 1981, Christie's sold the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara, a 19th century piece made for Princess Augusta of Hesse Cassel, Duchess of Cambridge. The tiara was inherited by Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg Strelitz, and her great granddaughter, Princess Jutta of Montenegro. The connection to the British Royal household is this: Queen Mary requested a replica be made, which she left to Queen Elizabeth II. Both Diana, Princess of Wales, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, have been pictured wearing the tiara.

Queen Mary wearing the Lover's Knot tiara

 

Princess Diana wearing the Lover's Knot tiara Princess Diana wearing the Lover's Knot tiara

Duchess of Cambridge wearing the Lover's Knot tiara Duchess of Cambridge wearing the Lover's Knot tiara

Queen Elizabeth II presented the tiara to Diana as a wedding gift. However, on her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales, Diana chose to wear the Spencer Tiara, an 18th-century family heirloom from her great aristocratic family.

The Duchess of Berry's emeralds

Image: Sotheby's Image: Sotheby's

Last year, Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on 15th November presented the world with a piece from the collection of a woman who was one of the most famous and intriguing aristocratic figures of the 19th century.

A Bourbon Italian princess and grandniece of Queen Marie Antoinette who married into the French royal family, the Duchess of Berry lived during a time of turmoil in French politics.

Jewellery Designer Noor Fares wearing the Duchess of Berry's emerald necklace Image: Ambra Vernuccio/Sotheby's

The necklace, which gives the appearance of the emeralds floating, is set with rose diamonds and cushion-shaped stones supporting detachable pendants set with rose diamonds and pear-shaped emeralds. The central emerald weighs 14.03 carats. The semi-parure comes from the Collection of Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1798–1870), Duchess of Berry (1816), then Duchess della Grazia (1831.) It sold for $1.7 million last year.

La Régente: A pearl to rule the world

La Régente pearl Image: Christie's

At 302.68 grains, the Régente is one of the world's biggest pearls. Its auction history begins in 1987, where it was sold at Christie's New York, catalogued as having a Russian provenance. Two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, artefacts from the Soviet were still a mystery. La Régente was indeed from Russia, it was worn by the empresses of France and Princess Youssoupov of Imperial Russia.

The pearl dates from 1811, Emperor Napoleon acquired the gem from Nitot, the jeweller mounting it in a diadem worn by his second wife, Empress Marie-Louise. After the fall of the French Empire in 1870, La Régente and the other Crown Jewels were left in Paris. At the announcement of The Third Republic, the location of state treasure became unknown. In 1887, most of the collection was auctioned at the Louvre and La Régente was sold to Rossel, a dealer thought to have been bidding on behalf of Russian prince Nikolai Youssoupov.

In 1919 the Youssoupovs were exiled. Unable to take their jewellery collection, they hid it under the stairs of their Moscow palace. In 1925, the collection was uncovered and, in 1987, La Régente came up for auction in New York. It later came to auction again at Christie's, this time in Geneva just a year a later, and then for a third time at Christie's in 2005 where it sold for $2.5 million.

The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor

A woman whose life was overtaken by controversy: Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of Windsor, even if not adored by the British public, was revered for her impeccable style.

In 1987, Sotheby's took on the giant task of presenting 300 jewels from the collection of the Duchess of Windsor. During her 35 year marriage to Edward, Duke of Windsor, although she never became queen, the Duchess was never photographed without custom made jewels.

The collection at Sotheby's totalled an incredible $50.3 million and included pieces made by Cartier, Suzanne Belperron and Van Cleef & Arpels, many of which one of a kind jewels which personified the Duchess' style.

Image: Sotheby's Image: Sotheby's

The auction included an 18 karat gold and gem-set cigarette case inscribed ''David from Wallis Christmas 1935,'' with an etched map tracing a joint holiday tour of Europe, which sold for $266 000, almost 100 times its estimate.

A pair of yellow diamond lapel clips, weighing 40 and 52 carats were purchased by Laurence Graff for $2 273,000, four times the estimate.

Image: Sotheby's Image: Sotheby's

Elizabeth Taylor purchased the diamond clip designed as the plumes and crown of the Prince of Wales for $623 327, it was later sold for $1 314 500 at Christie's historical sale of Taylor's collection of Legendary Jewels in December 2011.

A natural pearl necklace with diamonds made by Cartier, and formerly belonging to Queen Mary, was purchased by Calvin Klein for $733 333 at the 1987 auction, which at the time was a record for natural pearls. Twenty years later, the necklace was sold at Sotheby's for an incredible $3 625 000.

The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon: Jewellery and Faberge

And from one 20th century royal fashion icon to another, the Collection of Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon in June 2006 at Christie's totalled $17 659 731.

Princess Margaret photographed by her husband Lord Snowden wearing the Poltimore tiara in the bathtub Princess Margaret photographed by her husband Lord Snowdon wearing the Poltimore tiara in the bathtub

The auction featured the Poltimore Tiara, made in 1870 by Garrard for Lady Poltimore, the wife of the second Baron Poltimore and Treasurer to Queen Victoria's household between 1872-74. It was first sold at auction in 1959, for £5 500, a year before the official announcement by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 26th February 1960 of the engagement of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret to Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones. It was sold in 2006 for $1 704 576, over four times its high estimate of $368 000.

A Diamond Rose Brooch, by Cartier, made by Cartier London in 1938 that Princess Margaret wore to the Coronation of her sister H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, sold for $282 624.

Search more realised prices for jewellery and more here.

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