Treasures from the past: a look at some of history’s most impressive and dazzling jewellery pieces
Amazing masterpieces created throughout the years by high jewellers
Diamonds have captured our imagination for centuries. The glamorous sparkle of these beautiful creations is simply alluring. We take a walk down memory lane to rediscover some of history’s most significant and beautiful creations.
Best known among fans as the “honeycomb tiara”, the Greville Tiara was created in 1921 for Margaret Greville, a social butterfly during the turn of the century. It was made using 293 diamonds from her previous tiara, which she entrusted Boucheron to reset and redesign. The fashion-forward tiara was bequeathed to the Queen Mother upon Greville’s death and it was last seen adorning Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s head during the opening of parliament this year.
Bulgari is no stranger to dressing Hollywood stars in precious jewels. This sparkling necklace-slash-tiara transformable piece was chosen specifically by Ingrid Bergman to be worn during the filming of her movie, The Visit (1964). The platinum and diamond necklace features 13 circular-cut diamonds in varying sizes which are attached to a horseshoe motif set in an alternating sequence.
Trust a heritage brand like Cartier to make even royalty swoon. This tiara, made by Cartier in 1936, was gifted to the Duchess of York by her husband before he ascended the throne as King George VI. The tiara combines 739 brilliant-cut diamonds and 149 baguette-cut diamonds to create an airy, halo effect. It has since then adorned various heads of royalty, before it was worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, during her wedding in 2011.
Chaumet, the official jeweller of Napoleon I and the maison of choice for royalty and aristocrats alike, has created more tiaras in its long history than most other jewellers. This tiara was part of a wedding gift set to Hedwige de la Rochefoucauld by her mother to celebrate her marriage to Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma. The design demonstrates exceptional skill and detail – the lace-like design and stylised fuchsia stamens give the illusion of movement.
The more intrigue surrounds a diamond, the higher its value rockets. This holds true for Laurence Graff – the founder of Graff Diamonds – who considers his acquisition of the Idol’s Eye in 1979 one of his most important purchases.
At an impressive 70.21ct, the largest natural blue diamond in the world brought with it plenty of mystery. Its exact origin is unknown. Some say it was owned by Persian Prince Rahab, while others say it was used to depict an idol’s eye in Benghazi. It has since been sold to a private collector in 1983 and its mystery continues.
When the Lesotho III ring was first discovered in Lesotho in 1967, it was as a staggering 601ct rough diamond. It was soon purchased by Harry Winston, who ordered it to be cut into 18 pieces, the largest of which was valued at 71.73ct. However, the most famous stone of the batch is this 40.42ct marquise-shaped stone, an engagement ring gifted to Jackie Kennedy by her second husband, Aristotle Onassis. It has since then been auctioned off to a private collector for US$2.59 million in the 1990s.
While royal provenance can help elevate a piece of jewellery to fame, sometimes it only takes a good design, as is the case with the jewels designed by George Paulding Farnham, the chief designer and manager of Tiffany & Co., during the turn of the century. Farnham helped make rose cuts, which was a fashion staple during the 16th century, become in vogue again in the early 20th century. This necklace features six large rose-cut diamonds, and enamelled links, another one of Farnham’s specialties.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
As befits the portfolio of a heritage brand, this stunning necklace boasts an incredible 673 diamonds and comes with a royal provenance to match. The 24.03ct necklace was a part of a set made for Queen Nazli of Egypt to gift to her daughter Fawzia on her marriage to the crown prince of Iran. The design is remarkable for its use of symmetry and merges traditional Egyptian pectoral necklaces worn by royalty with Western art-deco influences. Van Cleef & Arpels reacquired it in 2015 and was part of its “Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems” exhibition in Singapore this year.