An 18 Karat Gold, Cultured Pearl and Diamond Necklace and Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels, 1972, and Cartier
- Van Cleef & Arpels
- 18 karat gold, cultured pearl, diamonds
In 1947, American heiress Barbara Hutton commissioned Cartier to create a necklace-tiara featuring seven exquisite emeralds from the collection of Grand Duchess Vladimir. The Grand Duchess, laying claim to what was reputed to have been the greatest jewelry collection in her time, fled Russia in 1919 and died one year later in France. The emeralds were then acquired by Cartier and, as was the case with so many significant jewels in the post-World War I era, found their way to America where they were acquired by Edith Rockefeller McCormick. Upon McCormick's death in 1935, the emeralds returned to Cartier and were sold to Barbara Hutton. The extravagance of this transaction, involving payment in excess of one million dollars, made headlines.
Initially wearing the emeralds as a ring, pair of earrings and sautoir, Miss Hutton, by then Princess Troubetzkoy, asked Cartier to reimagine the gemstones as pendants to a Mughal-inspired necklace-tiara. Designed as a sumptuous, foliated gold bib set with old European- and old mine-cut diamonds, the piece bore a striking resemblance to the necklace offered here. In 1967, Miss Hutton sold the necklace-tiara to Van Cleef & Arpels who refashioned the emeralds into other jewels. The present necklace, suspending cultured pearl drops, bears Van Cleef & Arpels' maker's mark and may be found in the firm's archives from 1972. It also is stamped with French maker's marks for Cartier, further suggesting it may have formed part of the original necklace-tiara designed for Miss Hutton in 1947.
A photograph of Barbara Hutton's necklace and a Cecil Beaton portrait of it being worn as a tiara can be found in Famous Jewelry Collectors, Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes, p.183-184.