Great collections in the world of jewellery have been amassed by a variety of Kings, Queens, Presidents, Tsars and more recently celebrities. They often contain pieces of exceeding beauty, expense and historical significance. Here is our review of some of the world’s most famous Antique jewellery collectors:
Elizabeth Taylor’s name conjures images of beautiful fashion and jewellery pieces and her jewellery collection certainly reflected that. The collection fetched £74 million ($116m US) when auction at Christies in 2011.
The showpiece of the collection was a natural pearl, rubyand diamond necklace which sold for $11.8m. The necklace is named “LaPeregrina” after the pearl that forms the feature of the piece, and was a giftfrom her then husband Richard Burton.
The collection totalled 269 pieces and included items given to Elizabeth Taylor by Michael Jackson. The world record for a piece of Indian jewellery was also broken by the Taj Mahal heart shape diamond on a ruby and diamond chain which sold as part of the collection for $8.8m.
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family’s jewellery collection is arguablythe most famous Vintage jewellery collection in the world. The collection is owned by the current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and forms important symbols of the sovereignty such as crowns, tiaras, rings, orbs andsceptres.
Some of these pieces are so famous they are huge tourist attractions in their own right, such as the “First Star of Africa” diamond, set in the royal sceptre, as well as the “Second Star of Africa”, set in the state crown. Both these stones were cut from the largest base diamond ever found, the Cullinan Diamond. The stoned, weighing in at a staggering 3107 carats, was found in a diamond mine in Pretoria in 1905.
The history of diamonds in Russia is rife with both beauty and tragedy. Over the years the Tsars of Russia built up famous, dazzling and expensive collections of jewellery, of which a large number are currently on display in the Kremlin in Moscow.
The collection includes pieces from Tsar Nicholas 2nd (The last Tsar of Russia), who’s daughter according to legend was saved at the family’s execution by the protection of her diamonds sewn into her bodice. 47 Imperial diamond encrusted Faberge eggs, Tsar Alexei’s Orb and the Briolette Diamond Empress Josephine Tiara are all significant pieces within the collections.
The Mubarak Collection
Few collections are as beautiful yet controversial as the Mubarak gift collection of Ancient Egyptian treasures and jewellery, currently on display in the national museum of America in Washington DC. The jewellery was gifted over a 30 year period by President Hosni Mubarak to five US President and leading officials. Since President Mubarak’s ousting in 2011 the intentions of the gifts have been a topic of controversy, in particular due to the sharp rise in gifts during the uprisings in 2010 before his ousting.
The collection comprises of many priceless items from ancient Egypt including Ancient Egyptian Scarabs, Ancient Egyptian gold bangles and pendants and many bars and boxes of pure gold.
The Maharajahs Collection
The term Maharajahs refers to the great Kings of the states of India, in particular during the English colonial era. Natural pearls were collected fanatically by the maharajahs, and used in pieces of jewellery as well as tapestries. Once per lifetime, each Maharajah was honoured by being allowed to select a single piece from the vast collections to keep.
Within the collection is the Baroda pearl necklace, which is possibly the most rare and historically significant collection of pearls in the world. Originally a 7 strand pearl necklace, having been formed over many years by fanatical collecting and meticulous matching of natural pearls, this necklace was later transformed into a 2 strand necklace containing only the most perfect of the pearls from the original 7 strands. The necklace was auctioned by Christies in 2007 for $7.1 million.