Portland Jewellery Collection

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2015-06-26 10:44:45

The Portland Jewellery Collection is an extremely rare group of ancestral jewels that was owned by the Dukedom of Portland.

The Dukedom of Portland

The Dukedom of Portland, originally the Earldom of Portland, was created in 1716.

The peerage was held by members of the Cavendish-Bentinck family for 275 years. The seat of the Dukedom was Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire.

The 3rd Duke of Portland was twice prime minister in 1783 and 1807-09.

In 1990, the ninth Duke of Portland, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, died without an heir and the dukedom fell into extinction.

The collection

The Portland Jewellery Collection consisted of jewellery acquired and passed down through the family.

The collection includes the Portland Ruby, a circular-cut Burmese ruby ring weighing 9.20 carats and described as “stunning”.

Another notable piece is the Portland diamond necklace, a circular-oval-cushion and pear-shaped diamond necklace mounted in silver and gold, circa 1870.

A highlight is a six-pearl and diamond brooch mounted in silver and gold, described by Christie’s as “sumptuous” and having a “wonderful drop shape with a good lustre”. It also dates from 1870.

Also noteworthy is the Portland Tiara, a sapphire diamond and pearl tiara. Described by Christie’s as “a potent symbol of prestige” and “lending a special poise and sophistication to the wearer”, it dates from 1890.

The collection also includes a sapphire, pearl and diamond stomacher brooch, dated 1887.

Edward Clive, director of Christie's, commented that “the collections of the Dukes of Portland were undoubtedly among the most illustrious in England”.

Sale

On 1 December 2010, 13 pieces from the Portland Collection were auctioned by Christie’s, London. Most lots came from the jewel casket of Winifred, Duchess of Portland (1863-1954).

The Portland Ruby smashed its pre-sale estimate of £400-600,000, selling for £2,169,250. The Portland diamond necklace also surpassed the same estimate, selling for an incredible £1,833,250.

The pearl and diamond brooch realised £1,553,250, while the Portland Tiara sold for £763,650. The sales total of £8,651,350 was described as “staggering”.

Christie's stated that it was “honoured to be entrusted with presenting such outstanding jewels and works of art to the international market, at a time when refined appreciation of quality, beauty and provenance is paired with a notable hunger for 'the best'."

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