In June 1997, Princess Diana went to the British National Ballet’s gala performance of Swan Lake. Little did anyone know at the time that it would be one of her final public appearances.
Diana looked glamorous in a sparkling Jacques Azagury minidress and Jimmy Choo pumps for the occasion, but the star of her outfit was a custom-made South Sea pearl necklace by Garrard. The crown jeweler created the necklace (and a matching set of earrings, which weren’t finished at the time) based on designs by Princess Diana herself. After she wore the necklace, it was returned to Garrard so they could finish the earrings—but unfortunately, they were not completed before her tragic death.
Now known as the “Swan Lake Suite,” the necklace and earrings will be up for auction by Gurernsey’s next month. “Diana was a girl when she was a princess,” Guernsey president Arlan Ettinger told Women’s Wear Daily. “She was wearing borrowed material, then she blossomed into a tower of strength and became very much her own, so designing a necklace was a statement for her.”
The piece features 178 diamonds and five South Sea pearls, and the earrings feature two matching cultured pearls and six diamonds. Per the auction house, “It is the general belief that these may well be the only substantial jewels worn by Diana that will ever be sold.”
The current owner of the set is Mark Ginzburg, a Ukrainian real estate developer. The jewels, he told the New York Times“were never something to be worn. They were really something that was supposed to be iconic and treasured.”
The Swan Lake Suite will be up for auction by Guernsey’s on June 27 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. More details here.
Emily Burack (she/her) is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Prior to joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma, a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram.