Absolutely Fabulous necklace

The absolutely indefatigable Joanna Lumley is once again backing a worthy cause, and this time she is saving tigers from extinction. Lumley is photographed by John Swannell wearing the £500,000 tiger necklace to be auctioned by the Born Free foundation.

Joanna Lumley wearing the Shere Khan Necklace

The absolutely indefatigable Joanna Lumley is once again backing a worthy cause, and this time she is saving tigers from extinction. Lumley is photographed by John Swannell wearing the £500,000 tiger necklace to be auctioned by the Born Free foundation. "It is fabulously extravagant," says 'Absolutely Fabulous' star and Bond girl Joanna Lumley of the Shere Khan necklace made by jeweller Catherine Bestin the Channel Islands. The necklace, that weighs almost a kilo, is sculpted out of gold and sparkles with 182 diamonds and precious gems. This colossal necklace is named for the tiger in Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book" and will be auctioned on the 17 June at a gala evening marking the 80th birthday of actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna OBE, who founded the international wildlife charityBorn Free. All net proceeds will go towards helping the Born Free Foundation save the wild tiger from extinction. Valued at £500,000 and the charity hopes to raise at least £300,000 from the sale. To bolster awareness, Joanna Lumley - who is incidentally filming a new series of 'Absolutely Fabulous' - posed for legendary photographer John Swannell wearing the spectacular necklace. From the shoot at The Savoy hotel in London, Lumley said: "I feel very much that it's almost a royal piece. The necklace is so special it can be worn with anything, though I feel a strapless evening gown and long evening gloves would show it to perfection. The moment you put the necklace on, it comes alive! It feels great, like a badge of office, but it's incredibly comfortable and easy to wear. It reminds me of the fabulous pieces in the Duchess of Windsor's collection - panthers and leopards. I adore extreme looks and this is blingtastic!" The necklace features 11.9 carats of diamonds, 7 carats of emeralds and the each tiger holds a heart in its paws. The female tiger holds a 4 carat heart-shape tourmaline and the male a 27 carat rubellite. The black stripes are enamel and the overall effect of the necklace captures the majesty of this beautiful animal. The lucky one who wins the bid for this piece will not only have a unique jewel with an interesting provenance, but will have made a significant contribution to saving from extinction the 3,500 wild tigers left on our planet. And that, in my eyes, makes for a very precious jewel indeed. Sealed bids for the necklace started on 31st May and bidding will close at 20:00 GMT on the 17 June at the gala evening at the Savoy Hotel. For more information please go to this special section of the Born Free Foundation website. To register interest in bidding, email: [email protected]

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