|Duchess of Windsor's Ruby Set|
The union of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lasted for 35 years until the Duke’s death in 1972. During the period, the former King lavished his wife with many exquisite gifts of jewellery which the Duchess wore to great effect. Pieces in this set were given at various times but each has a special meaning.
With its complicated design and excellent craftsmanship, this necklace is a true masterpiece of the art of jewellery-making. It was designed by Rene-Sim Lacaze and executed by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1938.
Rivers of rubies and diamonds intertwine with each other, culminating in a cascade of rubies. The clasp is engraved with a loving inscription from the Duke: “My Wallis from her David, 19.VI.1936”.
|The Duchess wearing the necklace|
The platinum-set necklace was a special order commissioned by the Duke of Windso as a 40th birthday present for the Duchess.
The bracelet was commissioned by Edward VIII just a couple of months before his abdication. At the time, he was still fighting to gain acceptance for Wallis and to be able to marry the woman he loved.
It consists of four ruby clusters surrounded by diamonds. The clasp bears the inscription “Hold Right 27.III.36”. It was an expression the couple often used between themselves to comfort and support each other in difficult times, as the pre-abdication period undoubtedly was.
On 10 December 1936, Edward VIII made his abdication speech. Because of the complications that ensued, the former King had to spend Christmas away from Wallis. To make up for this, he sent Wallis a double feathered brooch representing holly leaves.
One of the brooches is encrusted with rubies and the other with baguette diamonds. According to Van Cleef & Arpels archives, this was one of the first examples of mystery (or invisibly) set rubies and diamonds. The technique is now one of the firm’s trademarks.
Sources: Silvie Raulet’s “Bijooux des annees 1940-1950”, Van Cleef & Arpels