• Qilin Brooch by JAR - Juan de Beistegui Sale at Christie's


    Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Photo courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2018.


    This citrine brooch shaped like the legendary Qilin, made by famed jeweler JAR, sold last month at Christie's auction for 150,000 Euros ($173,818 US). JAR made it for his friend, Juan de Beistegui, heir to the multi-million dollar fortune of Carlos de Beistegui.

    Qilin Brooch by JAR

    JAR designed the brooch to resemble the Chinese rendition of the Qilin. It's gaping mouth, paved in rubies, yawns from within a bearded shaggy mane. This mane sweeps upward toward the sky, as its flowing beard trails down the front of its chest.

    Its piercing eye flashes as a yellow diamond. Its body shimmers with flaming citrine, representing fire in the belly. In one cloven hoof and leg it carries a ball of fiery citrine. Scaly metallic circles cover its skin like fish scales.


    The Chinese Qilin Legends

    In China, Qilin (also called Chinese unicorns) are gentle, mythical creatures with the sensibilities of a tender maiden. Yet, they also possess the power of a mighty lion or dragon. Though hesitate to tread on grass, fearful they might injure even a single blade, they vanquish the wicked without apology.

    Considered one of the four sacred animals, the chimeric creature enjoys the praise given the dragon, phoenix, and tortoise. According to legend, a dragon gave birth to nine sons. It was one of them. Along with its brothers, the qilin possesses the gift of discernment, recognizing good and evil.

    Similar to the stork, the Chinese unicorn brings extraordinary children from the heavens. Though a solitary creature by nature, the mythical creature appears and lingers just before the birth of a great sage or distinguished ruler and returns upon their death.

    A qilin eats magical grass, floats or flies, and escorts the dead to heaven. Even its image, carved on tombstones, wards off evil spirits. It represents peace and harmony, though it also possesses the power to vanquish evil.

    A qilin talisman is believed to bring protection, prosperity, longevity, and success to its owner. It also serves to promote fertility. In Feng Shui, qilin attract wealth and repel negativity. They represent celebration, longevity, greatness, joy, and wisdom. They are also a harbinger of wise and noble children.


    Qilin in Japan

    In Japan, qilin are called kirin. The legends surrounding them overlap nearly identically with those of China, promising prosperity and peace. However, in Japan, kirin are notoriously shy, avoiding conflict at every turn.

    The Japanese believe kirin possess the power to punish the wicked. Legends abound in which the kirin preside over court hearings and divine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

    Kirin live in solitude, born in the center of the earth. They are considered the first and purest among the land animals. Their ability to navigate flawlessly, always reaching their destination, render them a favorite choice for spiritual life guides.


    It doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine that JAR had all of this symbolism and legend in mind when he fashioned this qilin brooch for his dear friend. Now, its new owner can draw from the power of JAR's intentions, as well as from the talismanic power this jewel holds.


  • Zolotas Gold Necklace at Sotheby's 'The Midas Touch'

    Zolotas articulated gold bay leaves necklace Articulate Gold Bay Leaves Necklace by Zolotas. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.


    A wreath of articulated bay laurel leaves made entirely of gold by Zolotas. This masterpiece in metal goes on sale on October 9 through October 19, during Sotheby's The Midas Touch auction.


    Lustrous Gold

    The Midas Touch sale centers around the world's most esteemed metal. This lustrous medium has captivated humans for millennia. The foundation of fortunes rest upon golden ingots. Kings have battled over it. Empires and dynasties rise and fall at the mercy of it.

    Gold mesmerizes, captivates, enchants, and dazzles. Used for things holy and things base, for luxury and for everlasting promise, gold stands the test of time. This month, Sotheby's offers a handful of items made from glistening gold.

    One important item is Lot 102, the Zolotas necklace featured in the picture above.



    Zolotas steeps itself in the ancient tradition of Greek goldsmiths, as well as in the extraordinary Greek aesthetic and cultural spirit. Established in 1895, at the foot of the Acropolis, by Efthimios Zolotas, the House of Zolotas quickly emerged as the jewelry firm for the Athenian elite.

    Efthimios prided himself on his approach to customer service, hosting his clients with care and dignity. He also ensured that all of his goldsmiths and artisans received extensive training in the Greek jewelry and goldsmithing traditions.

    In fact, beyond its reputation as a jewelry atelier, Zolotas grew into an apprenticeship school for those learning the trade. Together with his wife, Konstantin, Efthimios groomed his son to eventually take over the business.


    Xenofon Zolotas

    Xenofon Zolotas carried the legacy of his family solidly upon his shoulders. His dedication to his family's traditions and the craftmanship of their jewelry allowed him to build partnerships with contemporary designers. These partnerships transcended the unique Zolotas style into something even greater, carrying the brand into the 20th century with ease.

    Under his influence, Zolotas developed some of their most iconic styles, including the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, the Lions of Mycenae, and the Star of Vergina. In effect, his leadership carried the brand across the seas, drawing the likes of the Kennedys, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maria Callas.

    Xenofon's depth of knowledge and understanding, as well as his commitment to the economic growth of Greece, established him as a true ambassador for his people. Moreover, he developed a singular passion for beautiful jewelry made in the time-honored traditions of his people and his family.

    In addition to leading the atelier into the modern age during the 1950s and 1960s, Xenofon established himself in the worlds of economics and politics. He served as professor of Financial Law at the University of Thessaloniki in his early 20s. In addition, he held a management position at the Bank of Greece for over 25 years. Finally, he served as Prime Minister of Greece in 1990.


    Zolotas Today

    Today, George Papalexis sits at the helm of Zolotas Jewelry. He took the wheel in 2009, as artistic director. Under his guidance, the brand continues to hold fast to the traditions of the past.

    Zolotas remains a luxury jewelry brand which delivers high-style jewels in the Greek goldsmithing and jewelry traditions. These jewels remain singular in their bold designs, inspired by the iconic symbolism of ancient Hellenism, the architectural mastery of the Doric, Ionian, and Corinthian orders, as well as the extensive mythological stories seated in the psyche of the Greek people.

    We invite you to take a closer look at this gorgeous necklace on Sotheby's website.

  • Franck Muller Watch at Sotheby's Auction

    This Franck Muller Watch Belonged to Robin Williams. Lot 125, Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha & Robin Williams. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.


    Next week this Franck Muller tourbillon minute repeater wristwatch goes on sale at Sotheby's, on October 4th. One of 44 watches from the collection of Robin Williams, this watch may represent the pinnacle of Robin Williams's horologic virtuosity.


    Stewarding Time

    The person who owns a Franck Muller tourbillon minute repeater wristwatch stewards time well. Some people admire watches. Other people wear watches. Still others collect them. However, very few people curate them. Clearly, Robin Williams belonged to this final group of elite watch collectors.

    For one thing, minute repeaters represent the rarest of the rare in complications. A minute repeater translates the mechanics of time into a symphony of sound. Like a grandfather clock, it dongs, ding dongs, and chimes the time in hours and minutes.


    Minute Repeaters

    Today minute repeaters are a curiosity, a pleasure for pleasure's sake. However, in England, during the 17th and 18th centuries, they were a necessity. Scant streetlights and dim candlelight prompted watchmakers to design a watch that sounded the time at the touch of a button.

    This complex mechanism requires a level of skill and craftsmanship which grows rarer and rarer with each passing year. The device requires as many as 100 Lilliputian components, with names like fingers, snails, jumpers, star wheels, and surprise pieces. {source} Once assembled, the master craftsman must tune the repeater so that it resounds just right to the human ear.

    Today, experts believe only 50 Swiss watchmakers possess the requisite skills to craft one. {source} For the most exquisitely crafted minute repeater, it might take as long as two years to complete one. {source}

    In addition to being a minute repeater, this Franck Muller specimen also includes a visible tourbillon.


    What is a Tourbillon?

    Mechanical watches notoriously lose or gain time, depending on which positions they find themselves in throughout the day. In order to combat gravity, watchmakers developed the tourbillon. A tourbillon encompasses the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage.

    As the entire assembly slowly rotates throughout the day, the tourbillon serves to average out positional errors in timekeeping. Watches first featured tourbillons about 200 years ago. Until early in the last century, watchmakers mounted these rotating cages on the backside of their wares.

    Franck Muller, a true contemporary artist, transformed what had become an obsolete mechanism into an art form. He was the first designer to incorporate a tourbillon into a watch face design. Over the years, Franck Muller continues to refine and revise his front-facing tourbillon designs.

    Some of them revolve elegantly in a cage, like a steampunk wonder. Others, like the imperial tourbillon on Robin Williams's watch, resemble barometric pressure gauges held in place by a portion of an airplane propeller.


    Franck Muller's Genius

    Franck Muller's visible tourbillon, along with his commitment to ingenuity and horologic mastery, secured recognition for him as a Master of Complications. Every year, during their World Premiere, Franck Muller and his team release at least one brand new complication to the world of watchmaking.

    Established in the 1980s, Franck Muller operates out of Genthod, in the countryside of Geneva, Switzerland. His grand estate houses nearly every aspect of the watchmaking process. Located in what he calls an "enchanting and poetic environment," Watchland provides all the inspiration and peace the artist and his team need to create and innovate with abandon. {source}

    Today, Franck Muller continues to push the boundaries of his craft, taking the artistry of watchmaking into the stratospheres. His tourbillon minute repeater watches are among the most exclusive and exquisite collectors items sought by horologic connoisseurs.

    On October 4th, you have the opportunity to add a Franck Muller creation to your collection. Not only that, but this watch is even rarer for having been cherished by one of America's most beloved actors, Robin Williams.

    For more information, we invite you to visit Sotheby's website.

  • Vacheron Constantin Watch at Sotheby's London "Fine Timepieces" Auction

    A Vacheron Constantin Skeletonized Wrist Watch A Vacheron Constantin Skeleton Wrist Watch. Lot 52 Sotheby's Fine Timepieces Auction, September 25, 2018. Photo used with permission.


    This stunning watch exemplifies the creative and technical ingenuity of Vacheron Constantin. It belongs to a class of innovative designs they call skeleton watches.


    Skeleton Watches

    Skeleton watches combine the art of playing with transparency and the mastery of mechanical movements. In these astonishing designs, Vacheron Constantin chooses to reveal what typically lies hidden beneath.

    That is, the internal workings of the watch become the canvas. Instead of creating an artistic watch face, master engravers and gem setters decorate the mechanics with etchings and jeweled bridges, wheel trains, and gears. Vacheron Constantin thus transforms a mechanical watch movement into an "ethereal ballet," as the light dances across gleaming metal and pink sapphires. {source} This ethereal movement, as well as the watch's actual movement, is the star of the show.

    These skeleton watches can be found in several of the company's collections. Find new openworked creations in their Malte collection, their Traditionelle collection, as well as in their exquisite Metiers d'Art collection.


    Vacheron Constantin

    Vacheron Constantin is one of the world's oldest watchmaking manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1755, in Geneva, they established a strong heritage of precision, excellence, and stylistic ingenuity. Without doubt, their artisans hold themselves to the highest standards to create bold, exceptional, and innovative masterpieces.

    While Vacheron Constantin steeps itself in the very history and heritage of its brand, perhaps one of the most compelling hallmarks of the company is its relentless drive to remain timeless. Unlike other long-standing companies, the history of the company seems overshadowed by the timeless wonders they create year after year.

    Every new collection embodies a fresh interpretation of time and timelessness. While every piece nods to tradition, the innovative and artistic expression of Vacheron Constantin's dedicated watchmakers ensures aesthetic brilliance and a unique vision of time.


    "Fine Timepieces" at Sotheby's London

    One lucky collector will win the bid on this spectacular Vacheron Constantin timepiece at Sotheby's "Fine Timepieces" auction in London. The sale takes place on September 25, 2018.

    Will you be the next owner of this mechanical masterpiece? To make it happen, visit Sotheby's website.

  • Christie's Jade Auction Highlights

    Christie's September Jade Auction

    Christie's Offers Stunning Jade Pieces at their Fine Chinese Jade Carvings Auction in September. Photo courtesy of Christie's.


    Christie's upcoming jade auction, Fine Chinese Jade Carvings from Private Collections, promises to wow collectors. Featuring over 100 jade pieces spanning the Yuan to Qing dynasties, the auction takes place on September 13, 2018, in New York.


    Christie's Jade Auction Highlights

    The sale opens on September 13, 2018. All of the pieces were carefully curated from a number of private Western collections. Lots include intricately carved vessels, scholar's objects, animal carvings, archaistic carvings, and of course, personal ornaments.

    Some of the most important jewelry offerings in Christie's Jade auction include Lot 951, an unusual white jade hinged belt fitting; Lot 957, a white jade openwork pendant with rotating center; and Lot 971, a white jade dragon and phoenix pendant.


    An Unusual Jade Hinged Belt Fitting

    To begin with, we draw your attention to Lot 951, from the collection of Gerard Arnhold. This curious hinged belt fitting was fashioned from white jade. A rectangular jade link, carved in high relief and undercut with a crouching mythical beast, links the two circular portions of this belt fitting.

    Artisans carved a quatrefoil motif in low relief on the underside of the rectangular link. Meanwhile, both circles feature different designs of chilong (Chinese red dragons). In like manner, ancient comma spirals are carved into the back sides of these circular segments.

    In addition, one of them features a circular aperture which accommodates a matching button projecting from the reverse side of the other half.

    Arnhold's friend Roger Keverne illuminates a singular character given to passionate wanderings and generous philanthropy, as well as provocative dealings.

    It's easy to imagine this gorgeous jade belt fitting displayed amid the "mass of paintings...and Asian art...scattered all over the apartment, in particular his study and gallery room." Click here for images.


    An Openwork Pendant with Rotating Center

    Lot 957 is another spectacular jade specimen from the collection of Gerard Arnhold. This thick white jade pendant features a pair of confronted dragons perched above an open oval center. Hinged to the top and bottom of this outer oval rests a central rotating plaque.

    On each side of the plaque smiles one of the He-He Er Xian. One holds a box and the other a lotus stem.

    The He-He Er Xian are two Taoist immortals who represent Harmony and Union. Called He and He, the two immortals typically resemble boys holding a lotus flower and a box.

    These laughing twins bestow particular blessings upon marriages and the opening of new businesses. Click here for pictures.


    A White Jade 'Dragon and Phoenix' Pendant

    Lot 971 is a white jade pendant. On one side lives a dragon, carved in relief, its body filling the entire space as it rises. On the reverse side, a phoenix (fenghuang) stands with its head turned away and its tailfeathers swept forward between its legs.

    The fenghuang is the traditional feminine bird paired with the masculine dragon. Together with the dragon, she brings harmony and balance to yin and yang. Like the He-He Er Xian, this pair bestows marital bliss upon their owners.

    In fact, the dragon and the phoenix represent eternal love, promising to intervene when times are tough. Just when the fires of love might wane, the dragon and phoenix offer the power to reignite love.

    This magnificent white jade pendant hails from the collection of Joseph F. Lizzadro. Early in his career, Lizzadro began collecting stones in Upper Michigan. His first finds included Lake Superior agate, thomsonite, and datolite. For a hobby, he learned to cut and polish them to make jewelry for his family and friends.

    As his business acumen brought him (and his company) prosperity in the 1940s, he expanded his hobby to include collecting jade carvings. He also learned to carve jade himself.


    These three superior carved ornaments, and more, take to the block on September 13, 2018, during Christie's Jade Auction. For more information, we invite you to visit their website.

  • Jeweled Box by JAR at Christie's


    Christie's Paris presents Jeweled Box by JAR Jeweled box by JAR. Photo courtesy of Christie's Paris.


    Christie's Paris presents two jewelry lots in their upcoming Collection of Juan de Beistegui auction. This is the first of the two, a beautiful jeweled box by JAR.

    JAR at Christie's Paris

    Joel Arthur Rosenthal created this gorgeous box for his close friend, Juan de Beistegui. To friends, he is Joel. To collectors, he is known as JAR. Jewels by JAR are exquisite, exclusive, and exceptional.

    Closely study this jeweled box, and you will see the artistry. At first glimpse, it appears simple - a white box with butterflies. Almost kitchy, like what a young girl might pick out at a garage sale to place on her nightstand.

    Of course, this is no kitchy nightstand decoration. On careful observation, it appears molded out of rock crystal (chalcedony). Certainly, Joel Arthur Rosenthal clearly carved it by hand. It is crystal perfection, smooth and creamy like butter. Round, yet angular, it must feel delicious in the hand.

    Each butterfly is wrought in paper-thin sculpted metal, their wings painted in delicate shades of orange, pink, and lavender. They rest delicately upon the surface, top and sides. Sparkling orange, purple, and pink sapphires, as well as diamonds, glisten upon their wings. JAR studded their bodies, wrought in blackened yellow gold, with diamonds and sapphires, as well.


    Jewels by JAR

    Every piece by JAR moves the observer. The artist remains a secretive, eccentric Parisian icon. His shop remains hidden on the Place Vendôme, devoid of a display window, a sign, or any other adornments. He is not open for regular hours, and the public is not welcome to drop in.

    One can almost imagine him sitting in the dark recesses of his studio, bent over a piece, working tirelessly on what to others might be the tedious process of creating settings so perfect they become invisible.

    He fashions between 70 and 80 pieces annually, all of which are made to suit the wearer. This is not a typical commission situation. He gazes upon his client, fashioning in his mind what he will create for them. They may have a say, but he has the final word. In fact, he may spend the better part of a year creating a piece, only to deny his client the right to purchase it. This is likely a rare occurrence, but he does reserve the right to refuse a sale if the piece does not suit the wearer.

    I love Joan Juliet Buck's description of Joel upon their first meeting in a cavern under Paris: "He was pale, intense, magnetic, brilliant. I took him for an insightful professor or comparative everything." {source}

    If you've read my other articles here on EraGem Post, then you know JAR is among my favorite artists. He may dwell among the shadows, coming out only for the perfect opportunity to pair his art with the art of the human body. Yet, his pieces stand above the rest, shining in the spotlight whenever they make an appearance.


    Christie's Paris Presents: The Collection of Juan de Beistegui

    Next month, visitors to Paris can lay their eyes upon this jeweled box by JAR. Preceding the sale on September 9 and 10, this treasure will be on view at Christie's Paris. Viewing dates and times are available on Christie's website.

    In addition to this gorgeous box, the sale also includes a qilin brooch by JAR, which I will write about in another article.

  • Big Diamonds at Bonhams London Jewellery Sale in July

    Big Diamonds - Old Mine Cut Diamond Ring 9 Carat Big Diamonds Are Always in Fashion. This magnificent sparkler features a central 9-carat Old Mine Cut Diamond with baguette diamonds for accents. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

    Big diamonds are always in fashion. This past July, Bonhams held their London Jewelry Sale. The results are in, and the big diamonds rose to the top once again.


    Big Diamonds Fetch Big Prices


    A diamond single-stone ring

    First take note of this gorgeous single-stone diamond ring. The diamond is an old brilliant-cut which weighs 3.95 carats. It makes a striking statement set in yellow gold. This ring realized $15,968 at Bonhams sale last month.


    A diamond ring

    Next we have this gorgeous platinum and diamond ring. The central old brilliant-cut diamond weighs 5.34 carats. Held in place by with a six-claw setting, it also features baguette and tapered baguette-cut accent diamonds on the shoulders. This ring came in at $23,934 during Bonhams July auction.


    Big Diamond Single-Stone Ring

    Finally, this platinum single-stone diamond ring features a step-cut diamond which weighs 4.04 carats. The diamond carries a certificate stating that it has K-L color with VS clarity. It sold for $24,272 in the July auction.



    Big Diamonds at EraGem

    In keeping with the theme of Big Diamonds, we welcome you to visit our showroom to see in person our most magnificent diamonds.


    Old European Cut Diamond 5 Carat

    First we present this stunning platinum crown solitaire. The central Old European cut diamond weighs 5.4 carats. It grades eye clean VS1 clarity in a warmer N color. This stunning ring is absolutely breathtaking. For more images and price, click here.



    Transitional Cut Diamond Ring GIA

    Next we proffer this gorgeous 6.55-carat transitional cut diamond solitaire ring. This gorgeous diamond lies nestled within an intricately fashioned crown setting. The platinum band and shoulders are exquisitely etched. For more images and price, click here.



    Big Diamonds - Old Mine Cut Diamond Ring 9 Carat

    And the pièce de résistance is this astonishing platinum heirloom ring featuring a 9.43-carat old mine cut diamond. This central stone is flanked on either side by bezel-set trapezoid accent diamonds. This absolutely magnificent diamond is the largest antique diamond we have ever offered to date. It has a Q-R color with VS2 clarity. For more images and price, click here.


    We welcome you to slip one of these splendid rings on your finger. To feel the magic and sparkle of big diamonds, call now to make an appointment.

  • Peggy McGrath Rockefeller's Engagement Ring by Raymond Yard

     Peggy McGrath Rockefeller's diamond engagement ring by Raymond Yard This Diamond Engagement Ring belonged to Peggy McGrath Rockefeller. Photo credit: Christie's.


    Peggy Rockefeller started life as Peggy McGrath. She lived comfortably with her well-to-do parents in a white colonial-style house in Mount Kisco, New York. Exactly 22 minutes away by car, David Rockefeller lived part-time with his parents on their country estate.


    Romance at Kykuit

    Kykuit, the Rockefeller's country estate and mansion, graces the banks of the Hudson River in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The 4,000-acre property served as an escape from their downtown apartment at 740 Park Avenue. In the fall of 1939, David Rockefeller returned from London to Kykuit to work on his dissertation for the London School of Economics.

    However, David had far more on his mind than his studies. "From the first time I met Peggy, I knew there was something different and compelling about her...So when I returned to New York in the fall of 1939...I wanted to be with her as much as possible and found myself calling her on the phone several times a day," he wrote in his memoirs. {1}

    They spent many hours at his family's country estate, listening to the player organ, riding horseback, taking long walks through the woods, and picnicking, all the while talking endlessly. {2} They also spent time in the city, waltzing at the Rainbow Room and The St. Regis Roof. {3}


    A Raymond Yard Engagement Ring for Peggy McGrath

    As winter 1939 turned to spring 1940, David knew their strong friendship had deepened into something more. So, he withdrew his entire savings of $4,000, and took it to the family jeweler, Raymond Yard.

    In keeping with his firm's design aesthetics during the late 1930s, Raymond Yard designed a magnificent diamond ring for Peggy. Set in platinum, the engagement ring featured a cut-cornered rectangular step-cut diamond. The diamond was flanked on either side by slender tapered baguette diamonds. The central stone weighed an impressive 5.63 carats and had grade D color and SI1 clarity.

    David held onto the ring for a bit as he drummed up some courage. Then in June of 1940, in the 16th floor sitting room outside his 740 Park Avenue bedroom, David Rockefeller asked Peggy McGrath to be his wife. {4} He then spent an agonizing 24 hours waiting for her to say yes. Despite the tortured hours of waiting, "Asking Peggy to marry me was the best decision I ever made," he wrote in his memoirs. {5}


    25 Springs & Counting

    In celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, David Rockefeller brought Peggy's engagement ring back to Raymond Yard. The designer added epaulet and triangular-cut diamonds onto the shoulders of the ring. Peggy continued wearing the ring proudly for the next 38 years, until her passing in 1996.

    This past spring, for the first time ever, Peggy McGrath Rockefeller's engagement ring was put on display as part of the pre-auction events hosted by Christie's. Following David Rockefeller's death in March 2017, the family collaborated with Christie's to realize the couple's final wishes. That their vast collections of art, home furnishings, and jewelry be auctioned off and that the proceeds go to twelve of their favorite charities.


    A Top Performer at Christie's

    Though it was the last lot on the block, Peggy's engagement ring may have been among the most important. Daphne Lingon, Head of Jewelry for Christie's in New York, felt the placement of the ring as the last lot was fitting.

    "This [ring] begins their journey in collecting together...It is such a lovely symbol of the couple who are giving back so much," she said.

    Peggy McGrath Rockefeller's diamond engagement ring by Raymond Yard realized $287,500 during the auction. Overall, the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection brought in a staggering $853,111,344, all of which will go to the twelve charities selected in advance by Peggy and David.


    1. Rockefeller, David. Memoirs. Random House: 2003. Pages 97-98.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Gross, Michael. 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building. Crown/Archetype, 2007. Chapter 15.
    5. Rockefeller, 2003. Page 98.

  • Edward VIII Cartier Onyx Pocket Watch Goes to Auction Saturday

    Cartier. A fine and rare onyx pocket watch with the Royal cypher of Edward VIIICirca 1936 Cartier. Back side of a fine and rare onyx pocket watch with the Royal cypher of Edward VIII. Circa 1936.


    This Cartier onyx pocket watch once belonged to King Edward VIII. It's design is singular among Cartier's exquisite watch designs. Scheduled for auction Saturday through Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, this magnificent jewel could fetch upwards of $39,000.

    Wallis Simpson commissioned the watch in 1936, as a gift to King Edward VIII. The reverse side of the black onyx plaque is inscribed with the King's Royal cypher. It also includes a special engraving on the winding crown: "12/4/36 Easter."

    Easter with the King

    Time: Easter 1936.
    Location: King Edward VIIIs' residence, Fort Belvedere.
    Noted: Before he abdicated his throne.

    The king spent the holiday with his lover Wallis Simpson, who played hostess for the weekend. It is assumed that her husband Ernest, and Ernest's secret lover Mary Raffray, also stayed at the Fort with them. Wallis knew nothing of her husband's affair.

    Wallis and the King spent several years prior visiting, partying, and growing closer to each other. In fact, the year prior, Edward VIII gave Wallis a locket dated April '35. Inside the hair compartment another inscription read, "Wallis-David."

    David is the nickname Edward VIII's family and intimate friends called him. A letter accompanied the gift, a portion of which read, "This is not the kind of Easter WE want but it will be all right next year." {source}

    What Did THEY Want?

    Was everything the way THEY wanted the spring of 1936? If not, things were definitely moving in a good direction. Two months prior, Wallis's husband met with the King over lunch at York House.

    "Are you sincere? Do you intend to marry her?" the American-born shipping executive impertinently asked the King.

    "Do you really think that I would be crowned without Wallis at my side?" the King declared as he rose to his feet.

    The Vital Authentic Wallis Simpson

    "She is not beautiful and yet vital and real to watch. Her vitality invests her movements with charm or a kind of beauty." Thus wrote Anne Lindbergh about Wallis. Mrs. Lindbergh also noted the easy manner in which the King conducted himself that night. {source}

    The next month, a letter arrived for Wallis from Mary Raffray. Instead of the expected thank you note, it was an amorous letter written to none other than her husband. Oops!

    The American socialite confronted her husband, who promptly confessed and moved out of their home. That May, King Edward VIII introduced Wallis to Prime Minster Baldwin as his future bride.

    They'd Never Let You

    "They'd never let you," she said. {source}

    She was right. They didn't let him. So he gave up his throne, allowed his family to exile him to Paris, and married the woman of his dreams.  Stripped of his role, his rank, and pretty much his British citizenship, he left it all behind for love.

    Over the next 35 years, Wallis and David held the new title of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They spent much of their time and allotted funds designing beautiful jewels they commissioned with Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston.

    Wallis's favorite designer at Cartier was Jeanne Touissant, who designed all of Wallis's signature panther jewels.

    Cartier Onyx

    Jeanne Touissant, one of Cartier's most distinguished designers in the 1930s, loved to use onyx. Cartier onyx features prominently in their panther series, beginning with the diamond and onyx panther Louis Cartier placed between two cypress trees on an onyx box.

    Louis made this exquisite jeweled box for this remarkable woman who captured his heart and won his respect. Jeanne Toussaint became director of jewelry at Cartier in 1933.

    Wallis Simpson turned to Jeanne Toussaint to design all of her Big Cat jewels, particularly the Cartier onyx panthers. She may also have had a hand in the design of this unique rectangular black onyx pocket watch, made on spec for Wallis's beloved David the year before they were married.

    Cartier Onyx Pocket Watch

    The first time this Cartier onyx pocket watch went up for public auction was in 1987, during Sotheby's sale called Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor. One of roughly 250 pieces of jewels, the watch sold to an unknown seller for an unknown price.

    Perhaps it was purchased by Alexander Acevedo, the Madison Avenue art dealer who is credited as "the most active and successful bidder in New York." {source}

    The entire sale brought in over $50 million, which was donated to the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The Duke and Duchess planned this donation prior to his death in 1972, "to show their appreciation to the people of France," who welcomed them to their second home after they were exiled from England. {source}

    The last time this remarkable time piece came up for sale was in 2008, when Bonham's listed it as Lot 86 in their Fine Watches and Wristwatches Sale on June 11, 2008.

    Lot 86: "Cartier. A fine and rare onyx pocket watch with the Royal cipher of Edward VIII. Circa 1936."

    A special note accompanied the jewel, which read, "The Prince of Wales, who had succeeded his father as King on 20th January, 1936, spent Easter that year with Mrs Simpson at Fort Belvedere."

    Bonham's listed an estimated price of $13,000 - $20,000. Unfortunately for the seller, the lot did not sell during that day.

    Bid on Edward VIII's Cartier Onyx Pocket Watch Today

    Saturday, interested collectors have another chance to bid on the Cartier onyx pocket watch. The watch, which comes with a suede Cartier pouchette, is listed in the Henry Aldrige & Son catalog with a pre-sale estimate of $32,826 to $39,391.

    That is an appreciable increase in worth over the past 10 years. Whose collection will this timeless timepiece grace next?

  • The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond

    526px-BobHopeElizabethTaylorUSOMay1986 Elizabeth Taylor wears The Krupp Diamond in 1986. Photo credit: PH1 Blakemore, USO. Photo has been cropped and is in the public domain.


    The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond weighs a jaw-dropping 33.19 carats. You can see it there in the photo, shimmering on Ms. Taylor's left ring finger. It must rise three-quarters of an inch off the base of her finger!

    The Krupps from Germany

    Richard Burton bought the now-famous ring for his wife for $305,000 on May 16, 1968. It had gone under the hammer at Sotheby's New York as part of the Vera Krupp estate auction.

    Vera Krupp had been married to Alfried Krupp, head of one of the most well-known German munitions companies. Simply called Krupp, the company has been most widely known for its nefarious involvement in Jewish labor camps during World War II.

    The Krupps purchased the diamond from Harry Winston, whose brilliant platinum setting demonstrates perfectly the mesmerizing effects of what was then known as the Krupp Diamond. After acquiring the gargantuan diamond, Elizabeth Taylor followed the lead of Ms. Krupp and wore the ring almost daily for the remainder of her long life.

    Elizabeth Taylor's Favorite Diamond

    It became such a vital part of Ms. Taylor's signature style that it was renamed in 2011 the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. Ms. Taylor, during an interview with Larry King in 2003, eluded to what she called the "perfect poetic irony" of a Jewish girl now owning the ring that once defined a woman who married a known Nazi war criminal who was convicted of murdering hundreds of thousands of Jews during World War II.

    Larry King joked about the ring being cursed, but it is clear in the transcript that Ms. Taylor entertains no such superstitions about the stone. In her book, My Love Affair with Jewelry, she writes of the diamond in euphoric, worshipful terms:

    "When I look into it, the deep Asscher cuts--which are so complete and ravishing--are like steps that lead into eternity and beyond. ... To me, the Krupp says, I want to share my chemistry--my magic--with you."

    Christie's Legendary Jewels Sale

    Never once does she appear to fear the stone, though the life she lived was definitely marked with its fair share of troubles. Liz Taylor's life was a battlefield, particularly in the area of love. She suffered numerous health issues and divorced eight times. She claims to have nearly died at least four times. Her eighth marriage and her fifth experience with death were her last on both counts.

    On March 23, 2011, the world lost one of its shining stars when Ms. Taylor succumbed to congestive heart failure after a long seven-year battle with heart disease. Nine months later, in one of the most legendary sales in auction history, Christie's placed the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (formerly known as the Krupp Diamond) on the auction block for the second time.

    Experts at Christie's set a materials estimate of between $2.5 and $3.5 million for the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. According to reports written for Forbes and for Korea Joongang Daily, the diamond ring was purchased for a staggering $8.8 million by a man named Daniel Pang. All told, this sale fetched a staggering $115.9 million, with a second sale of her lesser known jewels realizing $21.3 million, bringing the total for her entire collection to over $137 million.

    The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond in Korea

    Mr. Pang purchased the historic diamond on behalf of a major Korean retail group called E-Land. The South Korean company owns a collection of construction firms, apparel companies, retail malls, hotels, restaurants, and theme parks.

    E-Land's most celebrated park, located in Daegu, is fashioned as a European-style theme park centered around the Woobang Tower. Known as E-World, this theme park was earmarked to host the fabled Elizabeth Taylor Diamond in one of its exhibition halls.*

    Though the two dames that once owned this magnificent diamond are gone from the earth, their legacy of treasuring nature's most magnificent gifts remains alive and strong. Diamonds truly are eternal, and they carry their stories with them wherever they go.

    ~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

    *Attempts to contact E-World for a statement were met without success. If anyone has visited E-World in Daegu and seen the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond on display, please email me to let me know (


    1. Christie's. "The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: Jewelry (II)." Posted December 14, 2011.
    2. Christie's. "The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels, Evening Sale (I)."
    3. Christie's. "The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond Diamond Ring," Lot 80, Sale 2623, posted December 2011.
    4. CNN Larry King Live. "Interview with Dame Elizabeth Taylor." Aired February 3, 2003.
    5. "E-Land pays $8.8 million for 33-carat Elizabeth Taylor diamond ring," Korea Joongang Daily, December 16, 2011.
    6. "E-World...the happiest place in Daegu!" Sneakers, Socks, and Soju blog. Posted June 12, 2013.
    7. "The Krupp Diamond." InStyle, photo gallery, #6 of 10. Accessed February 25, 2015.

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