The Dowager Viscountess Harcourt diamond necklace incorporating 28 diamonds from the landmark 1887 auction of the French Crown Jewels will come up at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 7. The necklace is accompanied by thorough documentation of its passage through various notable owners over more than a century. After the Third Republic of France was formed the Ministry of Finance decided to sell the once exclusive property of kings and queens in a public auction in 1887. Jewellers from Europe, North Africa and the United States flocked to the sale, along with European aristocrats and wealthy Americans. Tiffany was rumoured to have purchased about one third of the lots including 28 mine cut old diamonds from the Great Comb a Pampilles. They were sold a week later to Junius Morgan of the English banking family. They were passed to his young grand daughter Mary Burns who became Viscountess Harcourt in 1899. The first Viscount Harcourt had the diamond chains remounted into the present necklace around 1900. It is estimated at US$1.3-1.9 million.
The sale offers a selection of superb natural coloured gemstones, diamonds, jadeite and jewels from the most coveted brands worldwide, including iconic designs from Cartier from the 1920s to the present. Among these is a ‘Panther’ ring featuring a 10.62-carat natural Burmese ruby.
Pride of place goes to the Cowdray Pearls, one of the finest and rarest grey pearl necklaces known (US$4.5 – 7 million). Formerly in the collection of Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860 – 1932), a distinguished connoisseur and collector, this magnificent necklace strung and mounted by Cartier comprises 42 extremely rare and superb natural grey saltwater pearls well-matched in lustre, shape and size. They are accompanied by a pair of natural grey pearl earrings with mounts by Cartier London.