Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Diamonds Are Forever

A few months ago I read that Sotheby’s is having a sale of jewellery “formerly in the collection of The Duchess of Windsor”. You may not recognise her by the title, but her name was Wallis Simpson. She was an American socialite, and twice divorced, when she married Kind Edward VIII. However, because she was considered vastly unsuitable, he gave up his crown in order to be her husband.

Of course there is more to the story than that. There were mutterings of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor being Nazi sympathisers during the Second World War, but in its basic structure, could anything be closer to a real-life fairy tale than a king abdicating his throne for the woman he loved?

This is unusual of me, as I’m famously cynical, especially in the arenas of love and marriage. But looking at the extraordinary jewellery that they gave to each other over 35 years of marriage, I can’t help but believe that theirs was a love for the ages.

I absolutely love jewellery. That seems a ridiculous sentence, because, who doesn’t? But I have been known to wonder around Tiffany’s and Asprey of an afternoon, with eyes as wide as Marilyn’s in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. What’s more I have a beloved, and ever-growing, collection of vintage and costume jewellery.

These pieces aren’t just heartstoppingly beautiful, but are also wonderfully thoughtful, like the cigarette case that Wallis gave Edward with the routes they had travelled together set in red and blue emeralds.

For their twentieth anniversary, he gave her this emerald, ruby and diamond brooch, mounted by Cartier. Heart-shaped and with a monogram of their initials and XX in the centre, it is not only a spectacular piece of jewellery, but the untarnishable and unbreakable nature of diamonds in this context is the most romantic symbolism imaginable. After all, diamonds are forever…

All images from Sotheby's

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