The Refined Eye of a Seasoned Jewelry Collector

The Refined Eye of a Seasoned Jewelry Collector

With a passion for history, travel, music, literature and design, doña Ylanda Eleta de Fierro ammassed a collection of exquisite pieces from makers such as Bulgari, David Webb and Tiffany & Co., which reflected her deep commitment to pursuing bold statement jewels.
With a passion for history, travel, music, literature and design, doña Ylanda Eleta de Fierro ammassed a collection of exquisite pieces from makers such as Bulgari, David Webb and Tiffany & Co., which reflected her deep commitment to pursuing bold statement jewels.

T he lifestyle of Doña Yolanda Eleta de Fierro was, by all accounts, one that at every opportunity revealed her viewpoint on design and craftsmanship. Informed by travel, history, learning, and creative collaboration, her Maison Jansen-inspired mansion on Calle Serrano encapsulates a style that is both eclectic and highly focused.

Doña Yolanda Eleta de Fierro and family. © Personal archives.

But it is in her jewelry that we see the outward-facing expression of her singular vision. Through a life filled with social engagements, and a home filled with entertainment, she acquired and wore a collection of exceptional variety and quality.

From magnificent gemstones and diamonds to ancient-looking yellow hammered beads, classic Tiffany & Co. and Cartier to modish mid-century designers like Seaman Schepps and Andrew Clunn, the pieces are unified by a commitment to the bold colour and form we see throughout her home.

Doña Yolanda Eleta de Fierro. © Personal archives.

This educated and eclectic approach to design is hardly surprising given doña Yolanda’s background. Born in Panama and educated at Stanford, she moved to Madrid with her banker husband Ignacio Fierro, taking on a life of family, culture, global travel, and social profile.

Her Madrid home, built in 1966, reveals a fascination with historical styles and artefacts, something reflected in her jewelry, which combines vast Colombian emeralds, important diamonds and high-carat gold with simpler materials such as tiger’s eye and moonstone – and of course, her beloved pearls, which feature strongly in the collection. As one might expect of a woman who took such care over the aesthetics surrounding her, much of the jewelry was commissioned directly, from houses such as Cartier, Harry Winston, David Webb and Bulgari. Indeed, she is said to have personally overseen their production in their workshops.

Though it is hard to pick favourites from these well-chosen pieces, the emerald and diamond items are exceptional for the sheer quality of the stones and their timeless design. For example, Lot 62 comprises a pair of extraordinary pear-shaped Colombian emeralds, one of 8.43 carats with only minor clarity enhancements, and one of 7.02 carats with no evidence of enhancements. Surrounded by marquise-cut diamonds, these earrings were made by Jacques Timey for Harry Winston, a suitably exquisite setting for exceptional stones.

Another emerald-and-diamond piece is a necklace that can be worn as two bracelets, features an array of rectangular step-cut Colombian emeralds, showing little to no clarity enhancement, interspersed with marquise-cut diamonds. One can only imagine the sparkling effect of such gemstones on a balmy evening in the Serrano mansion.

Clearly a collector not only of jewelry but of very good gemstones, Doña Yolanda commissioned Cartier to set the 14.7ct step-cut white diamond, a near colourless G Colour and VVS2 Clarity, with bullet-shaped shoulders. But some of the more interesting pieces in understanding the woman, are those by designers such as Elizabeth Gage and Andrew Clunn – whimsical, creative, organic and extravagant. The immense gold and pearl parure by Gage looks almost like the jewelry of a high priestess, while in Lot 54, a brooch, the mabe pearl seems to have grown straight from the gold setting. Equally Clunn’s hammered gold collar, Lot 51, and his textured bracelets in Lots 20 and 22, bring a different, more modern and primal mood to doña Yolanda’s Neo-Classical lifestyle.

Indeed among the glittering and cosmopolitan styles there is one theme that stands out: that of the sea. Evidence of a love of travel, or a nostalgia for her birthplace of Panama, it exists in pieces from the pearls and pearl-encrusted shells in pieces by Verdura, Fred Leighton and Tiffany & Co. respectively, to the fabulous David Webb dolphin brooch with brilliant-cut white diamonds, yellow diamonds, round sapphires, pear diamonds and a glorious spray of sapphire droplets, set in platinum and 18ct yellow gold.

As with so many of the most powerful women in society, one of doña Yolanda’s greatest jewelry love affairs was with Bulgari – and the pieces she owned were searingly modern. Whether reflecting her travels across the world, with the Indian-inspired Chandra necklace in porcelain and tourmaline, or making a dramatic statement with a Serpenti watch, or a devastatingly chic gold and diamond curb bracelet, there is a Bulgari piece for every mood.

But perhaps the standouts in terms of defining Doña Yolanda’s style are a Bulgari necklace and brooch in gold, diamonds and citrine, with a cultured pearl drop on the brooch. These are certainly not the most expensive in material terms, with relatively humble gemstones, yet they speak to a distinctive, intelligent approach to jewelry – one that places design before value, that blends antique and modern elements, and that proclaims confidence without ever stepping near vulgarity. And that is something that can be said of Doña Yolanda’s home, her jewelry and her life.


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