However, proving that the saleroom lightning can strike twice, a cultured pearl and diamond bracelet sold 15 years ago for £60,000 (£72,000 including 20% premium) sold for a mighty £320,000 at Dix Noonan & Webb (24% buyer’s premium) on September 14.
This is a significant piece of royal jewellery. Housed in a later fitted case by Cartier, it was one of two Art Deco pearl jewels (the other a necklace) gifted to the princess by her grandmother Queen Mary for her 18th birthday. Princess Margaret was photographed wearing the bracelet on many occasions including for her official 19th birthday portrait taken by Cecil Beaton in July 1949.
He later recalled: “She was at Lord’s for the Eton and Harrow match, and got back a bit late but she is such a quick dresser that a few moments after her return she appeared changed into the new evening dress Hartnell had supplied her that morning – a dull dress of white tulle embroidered with sequin butterflies and a rainbow tulle scarf around the waist.
He finished by mentioning: “She had been up till 5.30 the night before (she likes the peace and anonymity of the 400 nightclub) and towards the end of the two-hour sitting, started to wilt and became very tired.”
The bracelet, shortened at some point, is engraved with the ownership mark M beneath a coronet. Many pieces were similarly posthumously engraved before Christie’s sale to enhance their commercial appeal.
It was estimated to fetch £30,000-40,000 and after bidding on the phones, and the internet, it was bought by a private buyer. Head of the department Frances Noble at Dix Noonan Webb, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the price. It not only reflects the strength of the current auction market but also the overriding importance of provenance.”
Sold at £20,000 against an estimate of £4000-6000 was an Art Deco aquamarine cocktail ring by Cartier. Made c.1940, it was accompanied by the original hand-drawn design options, and was sold by the family who had originally commissioned the ring.