In the week a royal necklace is hitting headlines and evoking memories of Princess Diana in many hearts, this is because a special lot at the auction of the Attallah Cross pendant which was last seen when it was worn by Diana in 1987. The auction opens on Fri 6 Jan at Sotheby's at 2pm UK time and goes till Wed 18 Jan at 4.30pm.
Garrard Amethyst and diamond pendant, circa 1920. Image courtesy of Sotheby's
"In the week another royal necklace is hitting headlines and evoking memories of Diana in many hearts, this regal amethyst and diamond cross pendant last worn in 1987 by Diana, Princess of Wales, at the peak of her beauty as she embraced a bolder, more confident style, could attract a flurry of interest given its accessible price point relative to other royal jewels with illustrious history. The piece has limited instrinsic value because amethysts are not the most precious of gemstones, and at 77 Diamonds we would charge under £7,000 to remake something in a similar style to this pendant. I attribute the very high estimate from Sotheby's to the simple fact that it is a Gerrard jewel from the 1920's which was worn by Princess Diana and so few pieces of jewellery worn by Princess Diana to have ever come up at auction. Given how topical the royals are at the moment, the auction house could succeed in capturing the zeitgeist around Princess Diana's legacy. Jewellery with illustrious royal associations has a history of attracting high prices at auction. In November 2021, a pair of diamond bracelets hidden by French Queen Marie Antoinette to keep them safe during the French Revolution, sold at Christie’s Geneva for £7.04m, soaring past the pre-sale estimate."
Tobias Kormind, managing director, 77 Diamonds
Formerly in the Collection of the late Naim Attallah, CBE, the Garrard's amethyst and diamond pendant, is dated to circa 1920 is so-called the Fleurée cross set with square-cut amethyst and accented by circular-cut diamonds. Accompanied by a document from Garrard.
During the late 80s Diana, Princess of Wales, became known for bolder fashion choices reflecting how she had begun to take autonomy in her life. It was during this period, in 1987 that Garrard lent her this distinct and eye catching early 20th century amethyst and diamond cross to pair with an exquisite baroque style purple and black velvet Catherine Walker & Co dress, for a function held at the jewellers in support of Birthright, a charity which strives to protect human rights during pregnancy and childbirth. Her newfound style was a bold departure from her previous more romantic fashion choices.
The Chelsea-based bespoke atelier, Catherine Walker & Co was beloved by Diana and remains popular amongst other members of the Royal Family. When working with Diana, Princess of Wales, they aspired to design to clothes that did not outdo Diana, rather they are “suitable for the role they are playing and… match up to the power they have”, according to Said Cyrus, one of the founders of Catherine Walker & Co. Diana’s relationship with Garrard was long-standing, having selected her infamous sapphire and diamond engagement ring from the then Royal Jeweller in 1981. Over the years, she would go on to collaborate with Garrard, borrowing her favourite amethyst and diamond cross on many more occasions, as recalled by Ramsay Attallah, whose father, Naim Attallah, CBE (1931-2021) was joint managing director and eventually group chief executive of Asprey & Garrard.
It was under his patronage that Garrard saw continued growth and success, remaining crown jewellers until 2007. As good friends of the Princess, Attallah acquired the cross shortly after her death and it has remained with the family, unworn, ever since. Sotheby’s is proud to present this incredibly rare piece of royal history in the Royal and Noble sale.
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