The Princess of Wales collaborated with Garrard and Company to create the sensational design to wear to a performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall. The show-stopping diamond and South Sea pearl necklace is just half of the collection, too, as the Princess sadly passed before the matching Swan Lake Suite earrings were completed.
In 2017, they were sold to private New York auction house Guernsey’s where they were purchased by an anonymous bidder.
The diamond and South Sea pearl necklace was made by Garrard, which was the official jewellery maker for the Royal Family at the time.
The necklace was actually designed with input from Diana herself. She wore the piece in public for the only time on June 3, 1997.
Garrard also made a pair of coordinating diamond and pearl earrings, but they weren’t finished yet when she died that August.
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Nevertheless, the necklace and earrings are often referred to as the ‘Swan Lake Suite’ because of Diana’s famous appearance in the necklace.
When Princess Diana died, she had not yet purchased the suite of jewels.
Sometimes the Princess is described as the original owner of the necklace, but that is not correct.
Although she was the original wearer of the necklace, six months after her death, Garrard sold the necklace and earrings to a private buyer.
According to the Court Jeweller, he was a British lord who worked as a managing director for Lehman Brothers in London.
He purchased the suite for his wife, who reportedly never wore the jewels because she was too uncomfortable with their connection to the late Princess who died so tragically.
In 1999, the couple who owned the suite decided to sell it. The necklace and earrings were eventually sold at Guernsey’s auction house in New York on December 18, 1999.
The set was purchased by a Texan businessman, Jim McIngvale, for just under a million dollars.
Guernsey’s auction notes described the necklace as: “Brilliant cut diamond and marquise diamond scroll motif centre with a South Sea cultured pearl five stone and marquise diamond fringe drop, to a brilliant-cut diamond two-row collet back chain tapering to a single row; mounted in platinum, claw set, with an integral box clasp.
“It contains: five matching cultured pearls 12 mm. 11 marquise diamonds 7.71 carats. Three marquise diamonds 0.88 carats. 164 diamonds 42.35 carats.”
The set was auctioned for the second time in September 2010 in New York.
The necklace and earrings were bought by a Ukrainian couple, who paid £455,824 for the set.
This was well under the auction estimate, which was set at between £1 and £2 million.
In 2017, after owning the jewels for seven years, the Ukrainian couple who owned the suite turned to Guernsey’s to sell the jewels.
They asked for an incredible £8.73 million for the set. That was nearly five times the high end of the estimate for the 2010 sale.
However, the set fetched less than half of the low estimate at that auction.