Duchess of Windsor jewels embark on world tour

We publish courtesy of The National Jeweler

London—Pieces from a renowned collection of jewelry once owned by Wallis Simpson, the infamous Duchess of Windsor, will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s in late November. But first, the jewels are embarking on an international tour.

Included among the touring items are a number of Cartier creations, a jeweled Van Cleef & Arpels purse and a series of silver items and medals that were once property of Edward VIII. The pieces are currently on display in London and will move on to Hong Kong, Moscow, New York and Geneva before a Nov. 30 auction, where they are expected to fetch around $4.7 million.

The Sotheby’s auction will mark the first time the Duchess of Windsor jewels have returned to market in 23 years, back when the auction house sold the items as part of an auction that fetched $50 million.

The collection is renowned both for its exquisite jewels from the great European jewelry houses, as well as for the story that they tell of a romance that led Edward VIII, who became king in 1936, to abdicate the throne of Great Britain.

An American socialite, Simpson was once divorced and married a second time when she began a relationship with Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales. Months into his reign as king, Edward caused a national scandal, declaring that he would give up the throne to marry the now twice-divorced Simpson.

The pair became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the jewelry they commissioned over the years illustrates key events in their historic relationship. Included among the auction pieces are a Cartier onyx and diamond panther bracelet designed in 1952; a flamingo brooch featuring rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrines and diamonds, bought in 1940; and a number of inscribed designs.

A heart-shaped emerald, ruby and diamond brooch by Cartier features the initials “W.E.,” for “Wallis and Edward,” and commemorates the pair’s 20th wedding anniversary. Another Cartier diamond bracelet is studded with nine gem-set Latin crosses, each representing special moments in Simpson’s life from 1934 to 1944.

Today, the Duchess of Windsor jewels remain the most valuable single-owner jewelry collection ever sold, Sotheby’s said in a media release.


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