Important emerald and diamond necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1948
- Van Cleef & Arpels
- emerald, diamond, gold, platinum
Lily Pons (1898 – 1976), née Alice Joséphine Pons, was born in France, in the region of Draguignan, near Cannes. Having studied piano as a young girl, her professional singing début came with the title role of Lakmé, at an opera house in Alsace. She built up her repertoire in Parisian opera houses before débuting at the Met in 1931 where she was instantly lauded for her performance of Lucia de Lammermoor. Exuding beauty, charm, and an incredible talent, she specialized in French and Italian coloratura parts and became the first soprano to reach the high ‘F’ composed by Delibes in his Lakmé opera, and also able to hold a high ‘D’ for nearly a minute.
In 1944 and 1945, Miss Pons toured with the USO (United Service Organizations), performing for American troops at military bases throughout Europe, the Middle East, India and China. By then she was a naturalized US citizen, and was accompanied on her trips by her husband, the famous conductor Andre Kostelanetz, who led a band composed entirely of American soldiers.
Miss Pons went on to star in three Hollywood films, including I Dream Too Much with Henry Fonda whilst maintaining a recording contract with RCA, Victor and Columbia, leaving a vast legacy of recordings. Other honours include a Time Magazine cover in December 1940, a US postage stamp with her image, and a town in Maryland named after her – Lilypons, Maryland. From her native France she was awarded the Croix de Lorraine and the Légion d’honneur.
Becoming one of the highest paid performers of her time, Miss Pons maintained an impressive art collection including works by Renoir, Braque, Pissaro, Chagall and Matisse. Her clothing and jewellery collection was equally impressive. She is seen on the cover of her Lucia di Lammermoor recording from 1954 wearing a sumptuous dress by Nina Ricci, and the Van Cleef & Arpels necklace offered here.