Calvin Klien to sell Duchess of Windsor's natural pearl necklace

Thank you for posting the video clip on the necklace. I really enjoyed watching it. Seeing the pearls "in perspective" is very impressive. They are larger than I realized from the photographs.
sleight said:
Sotheby's just put out this video narrated by Lisa Hubbard, Chairman, International Jewellery. It has great background info on the history & sale of the necklace. Unfortunately, not much info on pearl origin or making. Thorough description and great close-ups though!

That was spendid! They did a terrific job and Lisa was as compelling as the pearls. Thanks;)
Right! Nice to see pictures, way nicer to see pearls rolling over a woman's hand. ;)

Now... would anyone venture what role that little 'diamond seam' ( as the presenter describes it) does? perhaps hiding old piercings in the pearl drop? Covering a defect? That bit doesn't fit in with the setting, or does it? Any idea if the thing might in fact have some other function?

Very close views in the catalog listing for the pearl drop reveal a slightly unusual setting (a small shepherd hook links the pearl's cap to the fishbone-shaped double hook that suspends it to the necklace) but doesn't clarify the particular question... as much as I can see there.

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You know what I'm going to say. It's covering the drill hole. The pearl isn't glued to the cap. It's suspended and there is a wire through the pearl to be sure it isn't lost. Didn't Liz Taylor's magnificant pearl become a chew toy one day? I wonder if perhaps it is glue-mounted. While I prefer prong settings as opposed to drilling, I can see why in this case drilling can be forgiven.

Oh, I see. The drilling isn't through the pearl, just half-drilled. Still it's more secure with the cap and post than just by a top-post and glue holding it against gravity. That's really quite ingenous. I never would have thought of that.
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Interesting. The cap is quite big so there is no reason the post can't be thick and deep---that would be enough to hold the pearl securely I would think. I've never seen an extension like this on any other big natural drop. Maybe the extension stabilizes the pearl against the wearer so that it doesn't twist because of the protruding hook part.

Drilling a gorgeous natural pearl with a second hole 90 degrees to the first one would make me cringe.

I saw that and thought the cap fit loosely as well. Perhaps there aren't two drill holes. Only one. In the side. Perhaps the cap just holds the pearl from the top in a tension sort of way and isn't drilled at all. Who knows?
knotty panda said:
Perhaps there aren't two drill holes. Only one. In the side.

... which could be if the thing was drilled to be fitted on an aigrette to begin with! Which should make this a fairly old pearl - it's been a while since those might have been the first use for a pearl like that :)
Valeria101 said:
... which could be if the thing was drilled to be fitted on an aigrette to begin with! Which should make this a fairly old pearl - it's been a while since those might have been the first use for a pearl like that :)

Oh yes, that could be it. The pearl, like the necklace, is probably from Queen Mary's stash too. She was a great pearl fiend and had an extensive collection. The pearl would be quite old.

These pearls make mine look like grains of sand! And the drop is deffinitly unusual in design. I love reading these forums because I learn so much for all of you, and in a way that I retain it better than I do the information in the pearl books I have!
Val and Slraep: Between the two of you, my vocabulary has increased 100-fold. Thanks!
Hi all,

as I pearl lover I cannot imagine that the Klein?s really want to sell these treasures!:(

The only thing that would make me do such a thing would be a financial catastrophe and I can?t imagnine that C. Klein is in such a position!:D
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jerin said:
The only thing that would make me do such a thing would be a financial catastrophe ....

... or boredom :rolleyes:

I mean, not YOU or I - but the folks owning such things. The pearls are astounding among pearls, but they are just another bauble for their soon to be former owner. Who knows... Hopefully they don't need to sell. It's never nice.

Now, there's this weird thing: I've met people who have amazing jewelry and some who do not but deal with the items (trade, research). And sometime along the way, I've learned that jewelry collectors are not always connoisseurs or gem worshipers at all.

Lots of folks in the business of knowing, selling or producing those marvels appreciate them much, much better. ;) Seriously! It takes a bit of meditative inclination to marvel at rarity, shades of color and orient and what not. That might come with ownership or not. Much as I can tell, pearl appreciation comes with time... the pearl pro's are the best pearl story tellers aside the Bible (esp. the story w/o swine)! Except some have better stories about the trade itself then its object, but that's another matter. [can you tell I love this forum? :p I do!]
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Calvin and Kelly Klein just got divorced last year, so who knows? Since the pearls have the aura of undying love attached to them from the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, maybe they just felt it more appropriate to let someone else have them. Or maybe they had to sell them as part of the divorce settlement. At any rate, they sold for $3,625,000!

you are so right!


I did not even know that they had got divorced! I think it is a bit more understandable that she wants to sell the pearls, the amoutn the went for is staggering!

Even so I think she must get a nice settlement from her husband so I can?t think of how she could possibly want to part with these pretties!:(
The pendant sold separately from the necklace for an additional $505,000. Does anyone know if the same buyer purchased both? It seems almost criminal that they were not sold as a set. Also, the second strand that goes with wasn't in the auction at all.
I have a book in front of me right now with a full description of the most important pieces from Duchess of Windsor's Jewelry collection sold on Sothby in 1987 (S.Papi&A.Rhodes. Famous Jewelry Collectors, 1999)

And here it is, the 28 pearls necklace, given to her by Queen Mary (the only piece of jewelry the Queen gave her, by the way). Ir was remounted by Cartier and the Dutchess often chose to wear them with the large pearl and diamond pendant aquired from Cartier in 1950. So, there is no doubt that shoud be it. Here is also a couple of her photos wearing this necklace.

But there is no word about the origin of the necklace and type of pearls.
Thanks for looking that up. It really seems that they should have stayed together, but maybe they could realize more money by selling in individual lots.
Hi Olga,

I too have the same book and it is a pity, this necklace was mentioned only as a by-line to all the gemstone jewelry the Dutchess had. However, I went to check out my "private library" on pearls and jewelry and found this necklace with the 28 pearls and the large pearl enhancer in a book called "Queens?Jewels" which shows Queen Mary and this graduated strand on pages 110 and 111, explanation that it was a gift to her son on page 112. Perhaps You too have this book? It was written by Vincent Meylan and shows all the important pieces of queens in Europe, Russia and the Balkan. Lovely photos, interesting articles.
I bought it via Amazon, if anyone is interested here the ISBN-number: 284 323 364 X. It was printed in 2002. :)
Thanks, Inge! No, I don't have this book (yet) but I am going to find out.
I'll look in another one downstairs, 'The Brilliant Europe", the catalogue of the recent exhibition in Brussels. This is a very good source!
I think I got it. In 'Brilliant Europe' there is a photo of Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII (is this the mother-ib-law of Queen Mary), wearing what looks to me a very much similar choket, it least the size of pearls and the small diameter of the necklace looks very much familiar.

It could be there are more in the royal collection, of course, and Queen Mary gave away not her best posession...