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Princess Diana Necklace Could Fetch $15M

May 9, 2023  |  Anthony DeMarco

A South Sea pearl and diamond necklace with matching earrings once owned by Princess Diana will go under the hammer at Guernsey’s auction house in New York on June 27.

Named the Swan Lake suite, it was created for Diana by Garrard, then British crown jeweler. The completed suite was intended as a gift from Egyptian film producer Dodi Fayed to Diana, the New York auction house said in a statement. Its estimate is $5 million to $15 million, an unusually broad range.

“It’s very difficult to try to anticipate what something like this will sell for,” Guernsey’s president Arlan Ettinger said Monday. “When items are appraised and estimated before an auction, they are based upon precedent. Chances are you will find things that are similar, then it’s easier to estimate its value. This is unique and it is an impossible task.”

Ettinger has handled the sale of the Swan Lake suite since 1999, when he was contacted by David Vyvyan Thomas, then crown jeweler for the British monarchy and an employee of Garrard. It was first bought at a Guernsey’s public auction in 1999 for under $1 million, Ettinger said. It was sold again in 2009 privately to its current owner, “a prominent family from Ukraine.” Ettinger wouldn’t reveal the price the family paid.

The platinum necklace is mounted with brilliant-cut diamonds in a scroll-motif center. Suspended from the necklace are five cultured South Sea pearls and seven marquise diamonds in a fringe drop design. The necklace is completed with a brilliant-cut diamond, two-row collet backchain that tapers to a single row. The necklace comprises a total of 178 diamonds. 

Diana wore the necklace on June 3, 1997, at the gala opening of Great Britain’s ballet season for the performance of Swan Lake at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Days after the event, Garrard asked Diana to return the necklace so it could complete the earrings, ensuring that the South Sea pearls matched the necklace, Guernsey’s said.

With the completed earrings, the set became known as the Swan Lake suite, according to the auction house. However, as Garrard was ready to return it to Diana, she was killed in a car accident along with Fayed. Two years later, Diana’s family authorized the jeweler to sell the pieces, with a portion of the proceeds going to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to aid its efforts to ban land mines, a cause Diana supported.

Ettinger has overseen many auctions dealing with the property of world-famous people. In many cases, the popularity of well-known figures fades after so many years, he noted. Diana is an exception.

“She was so charismatic and such a strong, vivid woman,” he related. “Once she was divorced from the royal family, she really came into her own to become the dynamic woman who led charity drives and did the right thing over and over again. She may have been the most admired woman on the planet at the time of her death.”

The auction will take place on June 27 at the Pierre Hotel. The merchandise will be on display at the venue from June 24 to 26.

Image: The Swan Lake suite (left) and Princess Diana wearing it (right). (Guernsey’s)


Princess Diana Necklace Could Fetch $15M

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