In this weekly feature, InStyle’s jewelry and watch editor Marion Fasel shares the inside scoop on the treasures that are on her radar. Look for it every Thursday on What’s Right Now, and follow Fasel on Instagram (@marionfasel) to see more gems that rock her world.
Jackie Kennedy’s birthday on Monday and the countdown to InStyle’s 20th anniversary issue that will hit newsstands in a couple of weeks, made me think of the first article I ever contributed to the magazine 18 years ago. “Jackie’s Jewels” was conceived by my co-author Penny Proddow and me, shortly after Sotheby’s in New York City auctioned the majority of her estate in 1996.
Dubbed "the sale of the century" by the press, there was a buying frenzy over everything, but particularly Jackie’s jewelry. During a two-day period when just the jewelry was on the auction block her collection shattered record prices. A triple-strand necklace of costume pearls frequently worn by Jackie when she was First Lady had an estimated sale price of $500 to $700. It sold for a mind-boggling $190,000. The Harry Winston ring Jackie’s second husband Aristotle Onassis gave her as an engagement present featuring a 40.42-carat marquise-shaped diamond, named the Lesotho III, went for almost four times the estimate of $600,000 and sold for more than $2,350,000.
With all the hype surrounding the high sale prices few people realized that Jackie’s most prized pieces, mainly the gifts she received from President Kennedy were not sold at the auction. They were kept in the family and one piece was donated to The John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. When our InStyle story was published in 1996 the tag line on the cover said “Jackie’s Jewels (You can buy them—honest!).” It showed versions of the designs that were still made by a few of Jackie’s favorite jewelers, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany, and Cartier. Eighteen years later, it is still possible to buy Jackie’s jewels—honest! Take a look at her iconic treasures that have more than withstood the test of time.
Van Cleef & Arpels Haricot Clip (top): During her 1961 state visit to Paris for the dinner at Versailles, the First Lady wore her pair of Van Cleef & Arpels Haricot clips in her hair with a Givenchy gown. She also put on her diamond earrings and carried a gold and diamond minaudière both from Van Cleef & Arpels. Originally designed in the 1930s, the clips can still be found upon occasion in the legendary French jewelers inventory. $52,500 each; vancleefarpels.com or 877-VAN-CLEEF.
Cartier Tank Watch: President Kennedy gave Jackie a Cartier Tank watch in 1963 inscribed on the back “To Jackie, Love Jack.” She wore it when she was dressed in her sportier clothes on the ski slopes, horseback riding, or sailing. Since the watch was conceived by Louis Cartier in 1917 the French firm continuously made a version of the original style. $4,900 cartier.com.
Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany Two Fruit Clip: To celebrate the birth of their son, John Kennedy Jr. on Nov. 25, 1960, JFK gave Jackie the Two Fruit Clip. The brooch is part of the permanent collection at The Kennedy Library in Boston and it's among one of the first pieces Jean Schlumberger created for Tiffany. The American jeweler no longer makes a version in rubies, but they do the style set with other gems. Ruby Two Fruit Clips upon occasion appear at estate auctions or vintage jewelers. One sold for $16,250 at Christie’s in New York on April 16, 2013.
Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany Croisillons Bracelets: Jackie Kennedy acquired her first Croisillons bracelet in 1962 while she was First Lady. Over the years she added several different renditions of the design in various colors to her collection. She wore them causally during the '60s when she visited Capri or during the summertime in New York. They became one of her signature spieces, second only perhaps to her large sunglasses, that the fashion press nicknamed the jewels “The Jackie Bracelets.” Tiffany has made the jewels since Jean Schlumberger designed them around 1962. The oversized gold bangles feature colorful enamels studded with gems. Prices for the Croisillons bracelets begin around $30,000 and are available at tiffanys.com.
The Antique Diamond Starburst Brooch: In 1962, President Kennedy bought Jackie a diamond Starburst brooch set in silver and gold from the British Crown jeweler Wartski in London. For events at the White House, Jackie pinned the piece to her Oleg Cassini gowns and clipped it into her elaborate updos created by the celebrated stylist of the era Kenneth. A popular nineteenth century motif, the diamond starbust brooch was created by many different jewelers during the era. Today versions can be found at fine vintage jewelers like Kentshire in New York. Price upon request, kentshire.com.
For more of Jackie, click through our gallery to see her legacy of style.