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The story of a coronation tiara and Star of Egypt diamond

The historic jewellery pieces were sold at a recent Christie's auction in Geneva

The Bessborough Diamond Tiara in Geneva.
The Bessborough Diamond Tiara in Geneva. (AFP)

Earlier this week, a tiara worn at two British coronations and the Star of Egypt diamond that reportedly once belonged to King Farouk sold at an auction in Geneva.

The historic pieces went under the hammer at Christie's, states an AFP report.

The Bessborough Diamond Tiara was worn at the coronations of King Charles's grandfather King George VI in 1937 and mother Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Vere Ponsonby, the ninth earl of Bessborough, commissioned the Parisian jeweller Chaumet to craft a tiara for his wife to mark his appointment as Canada's governor-general in 1931. She wore it to the coronations. The platinum Art Deco headpiece sold for 945,000 Swiss francs ($1.06 million), states the AFP report.

Also read: Jewellery with Nazi links fetches record $196 million at auction

"This is as iconic as it gets in terms of the style. The workmanship is unbelievable," said Max Fawcett, the head of jewellery at Christie's in Geneva, who sold the tiara. "It's a piece of art and a piece of history," he told AFP.

The entire Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale totalled nearly 41.2 million Swiss francs ($45.8 million), with 11 of the lots going for more than $1 million each.

The sale also featured the Star of Egypt, an unmounted 105.52-carat diamond reportedly bought in 1850 by the viceroy of Egypt, who sold it in 1880. It first appeared on the London market in 1939. It was seemingly later bought by King Farouk, who ruled Egypt from 1936 to 1952. The Star of Egypt was bought alongside jewels known to be in his possession, says the AFP report.

It adds that the stone fetched 2,707,000 Swiss francs ($3.02 million) in under three minutes of bidding. Of the 102 Christie's lots, the one with the highest estimate was a Cartier Belle Epoque natural pearl and diamond devant-de-corsage formerly owned by Australian opera singer Nellie Melba.

Also read: A rare Rolex fetches record $2.5 million at auction


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