in The Business of Jewelry on August 25, 2016
While there have been many first ladies that have gotten a lot of press for their fashionable ways, there are few that got as much positive and negative attention at the same time. Ronald Reagan’s fiery waif of a spouse was one of those first ladies. During their time in Washington, Nancy was seen as a spendthrift. It cannot be denied that she had expensive taste. She bought well, had good taste and only bought from the most well known designers. Much of what she bought was paid for by “friends of the administration”.
Christie’s is bringing Nancy Reagan’s jewelry collection to the block September 21 and 22. In addition to the jewelry, there is a wide assortment of personal mementos, furniture, books, artwork and even a pair of the President’s cowboy boots embossed with the presidential seal. There are 83 jewelry lots.
Most of the pieces which range from relatively subdued earrings to full on 1980s style brooches, necklaces and doorknocker earrings, carry estimates that barely crack $50,000. If those prices seem low, that’s because the estimates are based on the jewels’ market value; provenance is largely left off the table, even though provenance is what will attract many bidders to the sale in the first place. “It’s the wonderful thing about this collection,” said Gemma Sudlow, the Christie’s specialist in charge of the sale. “We get to work closely with the Presidential Foundation to go through their archives and imagery and find images of the first lady wearing some of these jewels on iconic occasions.”
“Mrs. Reagan’s jewelry is, above everything else, very classic,” said Tom Burstein, senior vice president, jewelry department at Christie’s.
Included in the selection of jewelry offered for sale, are the 40th First Lady’s Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and gold lion pendant/brooch necklace and matching diamond and gold lion ear clips worn on a state visit to the U.K. in 1988.
“The necklace was one of her favorite pieces. You will see her wearing it often,” said Burstein. “It’s iconic and so wearable.” It’s estimated to sell for $30,000-$50,000. The necklace can also be worn as four bracelets.
The matching pair of diamond and gold lion ear clips are estimated at $15,000-$20,000.
One of the more fun pieces is a Bulgari diamond, sapphire and ruby American flag ring. Reagan wore the ring on July 4, 1986 at an event for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.
Burstein expects the ring to be one of the more popular pieces. “It’s a beautiful ring that is drawing the most attention so far; it will be the highlight.”
There is a gold and diamond twisted bangle also from Bulgari that was worn by the First Lady to many State dinners. It has an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.
And if you thought those pieces were over the top, just wait until you feast your eyes on this gold and diamond evening bag worth at least $15,000, the mabé pearl, diamond and onyx Bulgari ring estimated at $5,000, a pair of $1,500 Ruser diamond ear clips, and a pair of at least $7,000 Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and platinum earrings.
The rest of the jewels can be seen in the upcoming Christie’s catalog here.
The end of an era. Nancy definitely had good taste and only had the best!