The beautiful aquamarine brooch, owned by the ‘last’ Mitford sister, has an unimpeachable provenance
September 3, 2021: One of the star pieces at the upcoming Bonhams’ London Jewels sale is a Belle Époque aquamarine and diamond brooch, which was once owned by the Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah. Estimated at £25,000 to £35,000, the large oval-cut aquamarine brooch is set horizontally within a delicate border of old brilliant and single-cut diamonds; and goes on sale on September 22 at New Bond Street, London.
Talking about the history of the brooch, Emily Barber, the head of Bonhams Jewellery Department, UK spoke about how the exquisite taste of the Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah is clearly demonstrated by this brooch. The youngest of the famous Mitford sisters, Deborah was the châtelaine of Chatsworth for more than 50 years, and she can be seen wearing this brooch in a photograph alongside Cecil Beaton at the ‘White Ball’, which was held by the financial manager of The Rolling Stones, Prince Rupert Loewenstein at his Holland Park home in 1969. With exceptional provenance, the photograph is also published in the Duchess’ autobiography, Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister.
One of the six aristocratic Mitford sisters, Deborah or ‘Debo’, as she was famously known, was born in 1920. These six sisters enthralled the public with their stylish yet often controversial lives, aside from their contrasting political views.
A favourite of the Royal Family, Debo counted several intellectuals and artists as friends, including Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett, Evelyn Waugh, Lucian Freud and John Betjeman. John F. Kennedy, a childhood friend, had danced with her at her coming out ball. In the year 1941, she married Lord Andrew Cavendish, the son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, who succeeded to the dukedom in 1950, Widowed in 2004, she died in 2014 and at her funeral, more than 600 staff from the Chatsworth estate and hundreds of members of the public lined the route to the church.
Some other highlights of this sale include a fancy coloured diamond and diamond ring by Boodles, estimated at £280,000 to £420,000. Set with a cushion-shaped Fancy Purplish Pink diamond, it weighs 2.52 carats and it includes an Ashoka cut diamond weighing 3.23 carats. Because pink diamonds are exceedingly rare in nature, it is estimated that only one in 10,000 gem quality diamonds produced in the world show noticeable colour, and out of these, a similarly small percentage are pink, with the majority being under 2 carats in size.
A Belle Époque diamond tiara, circa 1905, attributed to Giuseppe Knight is also going on sale. Estimated at £60,000 to £80,000, it was formerly the property of a European Noble family. Giuseppe Knight (1832-1892) was an Italian jeweller and goldsmith, born to an English family in Naples. He trained with his father, Henry and specialised in jewels in the Archaeological Revival style.