EPPING, U.K. – In the world of fine jewels, provenance is second only to inherent quality. If a jewel has previously been owned by a celebrity – Elizabeth Taylor, for example – that connection becomes a permanent part of its history and allure. But an even greater level of cachet is added when jewelry has been part of a royal collection. That is the case with a boutique selection in Boningtons’ November 15 auction that features exquisite jewelry and objets d’art formerly in the Collection of Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.
The daughter of H.M. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the only sibling of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret was renowned for her beauty and fashion sense, as well as an artsy entourage that included society, show business celebrities and bohemians. In 2006, four years after Margaret’s passing, Christie’s auctioned a portion of her salubrious estate holdings that included an exquisite Faberge clock (world record US$1.64 million) and the Poltimore tiara ($1.23 million), which the princess wore in her 1960 wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon.
Now, 11 years after that headlining-making auction, there will be a second opportunity to bid on jewelry of the highest quality from Princess Margaret’s collection. Each of the 13 royal lots was purchased at the 2006 Christie’s auction and conveys with a leather-cased, wax-sealed Certificate of Provenance from Kensington Palace, signed by Princess Margaret’s son, Viscount Linley, and Christie’s International’s then-CEO, Edward Dolman.
Among the auction highlights is Princess Margaret’s magnificent circa-1925 sapphire and diamond brooch. It is designed in Art Deco style as an openwork geometric plaque with three rectangular sapphires set to the single and old-cut diamond border. Presented in a blue leather case from Collingwood (Jewellers) Ltd, 46 Conduit Street, the brooch comes with unique provenance, having been a family gift to Margaret on her confirmation day. It comes with a note in the hand of her grandmother, H.M. Queen Mary, that says, “For darling Margaret on her confirmation day from her loving Grannie Mary R God bless you. April 15th 1946.” It is expected to make $46,400-$72,900.
A suite consisting of an emerald and diamond ring with matching earclips is also one of the premier jewelry lots in Boningtons’ sale. The ring is set with a rectangular-cut emerald between tapered baguette diamond corners to the bombe, pave-set diamond mount and shoulders. The pre-sale estimate is $10,600-$15,900.
A superb antique diamond and enamel bracelet features old and rose-cut diamond floral clusters on blue enamel, with rose-cut diamond expandable links. A stunning and most original design, it bears the Victorian registration mark for November 1, 1842. The bracelet is presented in a later, fitted green leather box from Garrard & Co., London. The auction estimate is $26,500-$39,700.
Wonderfully designed with an oval cabochon turquoise serving as the central point in a diamond-studded bow, an antique silver and gold brooch dates to around 1860. The central cluster is detachable, as is the brooch fitting, making the piece as versatile as it is beautiful. Estimate: $15,900-$23,800
A circa-1840 gold demi-parure consists of a matching bracelet, brooch and pair of earrings (later adapted), each component piece designed as a hollow-gold engraved knot with suspended twin tassels. The suite comes in its original fitted maroon leather case and is estimated at $10,600-$15,900.
An exceptionally fine Russian Faberge cut-glass box with vari-colored, gold-mounted lapis lazuli bears the workmaster’s mark of Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg, 1896-1908; and the scratched inventory number “11595.” The cover is engraved around the edges with floral garlands as well as within the gold laurel-leaf border. Measuring 6.6cm long, the box carries the highest estimate in the sale: $79,500-$106,000
Highly decorative, a Continental gold-mounted gray agate snuffbox dates to the first half of the 20th century and is embellished with diamond mounted gold and silver drapery swags around its sides. The hinged cover features and egg-and-dart border with an applied twisted drapery motif and a diamond border surrounding a central paste stone. Possibly of German manufacture but with French import marks, it comes to auction with a $13,250-$19,900 estimate.
Other items from the royal collection include a circa-1950 Cartier gem-set gold cigarette case, an 1834 William IV gold snuffbox, a diamond and silver-set lapis lazuli desk seal in case, a circa-1905 gem-set platinum and chalcedony card case, and antique decorative art.
Boningtons’ Nov. 15, 2017 Fine Art & Antiques Auction featuring important jewelry and objets d’art from the Collection of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret will begin at 11 a.m. UK time (6 a.m. US Eastern Time). The gallery is located in Epping, Essex, in Greater London. All methods of bidding are available, including absentee, phone and live online (www.the-saleroom.com). For additional information, contact Boningtons by emailing [email protected] or calling 011 44 208 508 4800. Web: www.boningtons.com