THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR SUITE: AN ART MODERNE BLUE CHALCEDONY, SAPPHIRE, AND DIAMOND SUITE OF JEWELRY BY SUZANNE BELPERRON, PARIS, CIRCA 1935

SOLD

A suite of blue chalcedony; two double fluted bracelets with old European-cut diamonds and chalcedony boules with sapphires, the double strand bead necklace with an articulated flower clasp with cabochon sapphire center embellished by old European-cut diamond trim; with French assay marks, set in platinum

  • Necklace length: 14 inches; flower clasp diameter: 2 1/8 inches; bracelets diameter: 2 1/8 inches

Additional cataloguing

Certification

  • Belperron Certificates no. B35404052012 and B35504052012, dated April 5, 2012, stating that the necklace and bracelets are Suzanne Belperron and were formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor.

 

Provenance

  • The Duchess of Windsor
  • Fred Leighton

 

Literature

  • Culme, John, and Nicholas Rayner. The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor. New York: The Vendome Press, 1987, pp. 134–35.
  • Menkes, Suzy. The Windsor Style. Topsfield, MA: Salem House, 1988,pp. 172–73.
  • Raulet, Sylvie, and Olivier Baroin. Suzanne Belperron. Woodbridge, Suffolk: ACC, 2011, pp. 54–57.

 

Biography

Along with Chanel and Schiaparelli, Suzanne Belperron was one of the innovators of modern dress and jewelry. Belperron began her career in 1919 designing for René Boivin. Her 1933 partnership with Bernard Herz (and later his son Jean) allowed her to develop her bold, imaginative style mixing hardstones, such as chalcedony and rock crystal, with precious stones, such as diamonds and sapphires. The elegant beauty became a favorite jeweler to the fashionable elite including Diana Vreeland, Colette, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. Belperron retired in 1974 and continued consulting on jewelry designs until her death in 1983.

 

Significance

Prince Edward commissioned Suzanne Belperron to make this necklace and pair of bangle bracelets for Wallis Simpson, the future Duchess of Windsor, around the time of his abdication of the throne of England and their subsequent wedding. Famously stylish, the Duke and Duchess marked special occasions by adding to their lavish jewelry collection with pieces that reflected the Duchess’s charismatic personality. This set, in her favorite shade of blue, is a striking and original piece. It was the famous record- setting 1987 auction of the Duchess’s jewels (of which this set was a part) that introduced Belperron to a new generation of collectors.

The necklace is composed of a double strand of chalcedony beads with a flower-form clasp. The five-petal flower is set with cabochon sapphires at the center from which emanate rays of diamonds reaching out to the carved chalcedony petals. The articulated construction gives freedom of movement to the petals that can be twisted individually, thus giving it the feeling of an actual flower. The coordinating bangle bracelets are formed as cuffs, each made up of two bands of carved blue chalcedony with a row of blue chalcedony boules surmounted with cabochon sapphires. Each boule appears visually to be tied to the cuff by a platinum bar set with a diamond. The diamonds serve as sparkle points to the monochromatic design.

Jewelry by Suzanne Belperron has proven to be timeless. Highly desirable when it was first made almost seventy years ago, her pieces continue to be sought after by discriminating collectors who want to own a part of history as well as great jewelry, especially with the publication of Sylvie Raulet’s Suzanne Belperron, the first book dedicated to her imaginative jewelry. This chalcedony necklace and two bangles provides a window into the glamorous romance of Wallis and Edward, while standing the test of time as a work of art.

Elegant and audacious, Suzanne Belperron established a new jewelry aesthetic proclaiming, “My style is my signature.”

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor at their suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, in 1971 by Yousuf Karsh. The Duchess wears a dress by Madame Grès and her Belperron chalcedony suite in her favorite shade of blue.

The Duchess of Windsor wearing the chalcedony bracelets back to back on the same wrist. photographed by Patrick Lichfield, Vogue, May 1968.

An original design proposal by Belperron for the chalcedony suite.

The Duchess of Windsor wearing the Belperron chalcedony flower as a brooch. The Duchess later had it converted to a necklace. Photographed at Château de Candé by Cecil Beaton in 1937. Prince Edward and Wallis Warfield Simpson were married at the château on June 3, 1937.

A blue chalcedony, sapphire, and diamond flower brooch with articulated petals, with the original sketch by Belperron. She reworked this design in many different materials with slight variations and used it to form the central motif in the Duchess of Windsor necklace, photograph from Belperron, a booklet by Verdura.