Estimated to sell for over US$12.8 million, Sotheby's Hong Kong today announced a record price achieved for the Hutton-Mdivani necklace of US$27.44 million, making it the highest price ever paid for a jadeite jewel.
The necklace was the top lot at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Spring Sale on 6 April 2014. Billed as the greatest jadeite bead necklace in the world, its exceptional historical importance unleashed a 20-minute-long battle between seven bidders.
The bidders clearly recognised both the illustrious provenance of the Hutton-Mdivani necklace and the quality and size of the jadeite beads. Comprising 27 gigantic, vivid green Qing jadeite beads reputedly from the Imperial Court, all of which are of excellent translucency and extremely fine texture, with diameters ranging from 19.2mm to 15.4mm, the necklace was formerly the property of socialite and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, one of the wealthiest women of the 20th century and an enthusiastic collector of exceptional jewellery by celebrated designers, as well as important and historic jewels.
The exact date the necklace came into the Hutton family's possession is unknown, but in 1933 Cartier was commissioned by Barbara's father to add an innovative clasp to the necklace. Shortly afterwards, it was presented to Barbara by her father as a wedding gift on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Mdivani and she was photographed wearing it to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.