Diamond rivière, late 19th century

Diamond rivière, late 19th century. Photo: Sotheby's

Designed as a graduated row of thirty eight circular-cut and cushion-shaped diamonds, the largest one weighing 10.10 carats, mounted in silver and gold, length approximately 400mm, case. Estimate 300,000—500,000 CHF. Lot Sold 662,500 CHF

Property of an European noble family.

Diamond ring3

Diamond ring. Photo: Sotheby's

The circular-cut diamond weighing 12.85 carats, size 53½. Estimate 72,000—85,000 CHF. Lot Sold 206,500 CHF

Property of a Franch countess.

Unmounted diamond

Unmounted diamond. Photo: Sotheby's

The circular-cut diamond weighing 3.36 carats. Estimate 28,000—48,000 CHF. Lot Sold 170,500 CHF

Property of a lady of title.

Accompanied by GIA report no. 2135130957 stating that the diamond is F Colour, VS2 Clarity.

Diamond bracelet

Diamond bracelet. Photo: Sotheby's

The tapered band set with a line of baguette diamonds between borders of brilliant-cut stones, length approximately 178mm, case. Estimate 37,000—55,000 CHF. Lot Sold 86,500 CHF

Property from the collection of  Condesa Vda. de Romanones

NOTE: Property from the collection of the Excelentísima Sra. Condesa Vda. de Romanones, con Grandeza de España, including a Bracelet/Watch formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Windsor

The holder of Spain's highest decoration: the Order de Isabel la Católica, a best-selling author, the most generous of hostesses and a Grande de España, the Excelentísima Sra. Condesa Vda. de Romanones has led a life packed with allure, mystique and adventure. Her story would make a truly great film plot.

The Condesa was born Aline Griffith in Pearl River NY. After a rigorous training, as a young lady she worked in Madrid as a spy during the critical years of the Second World War, at a time when the city was an important hub for espionage. Her contributions were to prove vital for the United States and their allies as seen later at the Nüremberg trials. "I stepped out into a completely unknown world", she said in her first book, The Story of Pascualete, (her husband's family estate dating from the thirteen century). But, it was a world which soon capitulated, as it yielded to the dazzling, stylish American beauty, who effortlessly and gracefully adapted to her new life in Spain. In 1947, dressed in Balenciaga couture, the Condesa married don Luis de Figueroa y Perez de Guzmán el Bueno, the dashing scion of one of the grandest families of the realm. The Condesa, a Hall of Fame member of the International Best Dressed List, soon after became the toast the grand monde. She established herself at the centre of society, hosting shooting parties and entertaining lavishly in her homes. Her guest list included the world leaders of the twentieth century as well as key players in Hollywood and members of the European aristocracy. "It seems to me that my husband and I went from one after the other", the Condesa reflects today on the frenetic social scene which erupted after the end of the War, where grand Balls were de rigueur. Charles de Besteigui's Ball at Venice's Labia Palace and the many balls that the Condesa attended at Ferrières, home of her friend the extraordinary Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, are favourite highlights of this era. The Condesa recollects, "My Era was the end of the glamour the world had known for centuries", where quick wit, beauty and elegance were of paramount importance. "With great Jewels you can walk into any exceptional place and know you belong" she adds, stressing that although dress, hair and makeup are always important, jewels are indispensable. "The jewels give importance to you and what you wear. It is what their sparkle do for you. A simple black dress and a knock-out jewel always light a room. They make you glitter. Jewels are a definite advantage to women".

Among her many friends were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - the latter, "treated me like a daughter" the Condesa recounts. Her vast and eclectic circle included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 'Babe' Paley and Betsy Cushing Whitney, as well as Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, the legendary Cayetana XVIII Duchess of Alba and screen icons, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner. The Condesa is a peerless witness to an elegant, but vanishing world, epitomised by Capote's mythical swans.

The Excelentísima Sra. Condesa Vda. de Romanones encapsulates the magnificent poise of European aristocracy, combined with New World flair, zest and a lack of self-consciousness.

Her jewels are a faithful testimony to her inimitable chic, at times gifts from illustrious figures such as the Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet/watch (lot 411) presented to her by the Duchess of Windsor.  

Diamond necklace, circa 1910

Diamond necklace, circa 1910. Photo: Sotheby's

In the Garland Style, designed as stylised swags of millegrain set cushion-shaped, circular-cut and rose diamonds, embellished with ribbon bows and foliate motifs, mounted in platinum, length approximately 385mm, French assay and maker's marks. Estimate 24,000—26,000 CHF. Lot Sold 68,500 CHF

Property of an European noble family

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Cf: David Bennett, Daniela Mascetti, Understanding Jewellery, Suffolk, 2006, page 272 for an illustration of a similar necklace.

Pair of diamond pendent earrings, circa 1830

Pair of diamond pendent earrings, circa 1830. Photo: Sotheby's

Each of stylised floral and foliate design, set with cushion- and pear-shaped, circular- and old mine-cut diamonds, mounted in cut down collets. Estimate 15,000—22,000 CHF. Lot Sold 42,500 CHF

Formerly in the collection of the 4th Marchioness of Headfort

NOTE: Rose Boote, later 4th Marchioness of Headfort (1878-1958) was a Gaiety Girl who sang the part of Maisie 'The Messenger Boy' in 1900 under her professional name of Miss Rosie Boote. It is said that she so charmed the young Marquess of Headfort, Geoffrey Thomas Taylour (1878–1943) that he married her on 11th April 1901.
'Gaiety Girls' was the name given to the chorus line girls who sang in musical comedy spectacles, at the Gaiety Theatre on the Strand, London. Rosie was a leading actress and protégée of George Edwards, who from the 1890s managed and produced the shows. The 'Gaiety Girls' appeared on stage in bathing attire and in the latest fashions. They were respectable, elegant young ladies, unlike the corseted actresses from London's earlier musical burlesques.
The marriage was supposed to have surprised and intrigued Edwardian society, and took place overcoming opposition from the family and even Queen Victoria herself was even said to have commented on the match. The Marquess was from one of the most prominent Protestant families in Ireland and she a Catholic. Rosie Boote married one of the most eligible young men of her day. Upon her marriage, she left the theatre and resided with her husband at Headfort house in Ireland and in London, they had a wide circle of friends and entertained such notable guests artists, including Sir William Orpen, playwrites and intellectuals.

Pair of gold and diamond ear clips, 'Esclave', Marina B

Pair of gold and diamond ear clips, 'Esclave', Marina B. Photo: Sotheby's

Each surmount of stylised palmette design, suspending pendant hoops set with brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in yellow gold, signed Marina B and numbered, French assay and maker's marks, hoops are detachable and may be worn as a brooch, brooch fittings deficient. Estimate 11,500—16,500 CHF. Lot Sold 37,500 CHF

From the collection of an European noble family

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Cf: Vivianne Jutheau de Witt, Marina B, The Art of Jewellery Design, Milano 2003, page 22 for a similar pair of ear clips and a necklace from the 'Esclave' collection.

Diamond pendant, mid 19th century

Diamond pendant, mid 19th century. Photo: Sotheby's

Centring on a stylised flower head cluster set with rose, cushion-shaped, circular- and single-cut diamonds, to an annular frame embellished with loose ribbons and a diamond set floral pendant, probably originally a necklace centre, later adapted.  Estimate 15,000—25,000 CHF. Lot Sold 37,500 CHF

Property of an European noble family.

Diamond ring4

Diamond ring. Photo: Sotheby's

The circular-cut diamond weighing 4.21 carats, to an open work basket, size 51½.  Estimate 11,000—17,000 CHF. Lot Sold 27,500 CHF

Formely in the collection of Geneviève Imbert Buglione di Monale Brayda

Diamond brooch, mid 19th centuryDiamond brooch, mid 19th century

Diamond brooch, mid 19th century. Photo: Sotheby's

Of open work cluster and scroll design, set with cushion-shaped and rose diamonds. Estimate 12,000—18,000 CHF. Lot Sold 17,500 CHF

Property of a gentelan of title

Pair of diamond pendent earrings, circa 1800

Pair of diamond pendent earrings, circa 1800. Photo: Sotheby's

Each of stylised foliate and ribbon design, suspending a chain of rose diamonds in cut down collets and closed back settings, embellished with a swing set to the centre with a pear-shaped rose stone within surrounds of rose diamonds. Estimate 7,500—11,000 CHF. Lot Sold 15,000 CHF

From the collection of Lady Henrietta St George

Diamond bow brooch, early 20th century

Diamond bow brooch, early 20th century. Photo: Sotheby's

Designed as a bow, pierced and set with circular-, single-cut and rose diamonds. Estimate 6,000—9,000 CHF. Lot Sold 15,000 CHF

From the collection of Lady Henrietta St George

Diamond brooch, Boucheron, circa 1970

Diamond brooch, Boucheron, circa 1970. Photo: Sotheby's

Designed as a stylised knot, set with circular- and brilliant-cut diamonds within rope twist yellow gold borders, signed Boucheron, London Hallmarks. Estimate 4,000—5,000 CHF. Lot Sold 5,000 CHF

Property of a lady of title.

Pair of diamond clips

Pair of diamond clips. Photo: Sotheby's

Each of scroll and geometric design, set with circular- and single-cut diamonds, brooch fitting. Estimate 4,000—7,000 CHF. Lot Sold 4,750 CHF

From a princely European family.

Sotheby's. Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, 17 May 11, Geneva www.sothebys.com