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The Hutton-Mdivani necklace sets world auction record for any Jadeite at Sotheby's Hong Kong
The Hutton-Mdivani necklace was acquired by the Cartier Collection for HK$214 million / US$27.44 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
HONG KONG.- The Hutton-Mdivani Necklace (Expected to fetch in excess of HK$100 million / US$12.8 million*) has the most illustrious provenance spanning members of Western nobility and Imperial China since the turn of last century, and is widely recognised as the most important piece of jadeite jewellery known to the world. This jadeite bead necklace, with an innovative clasp by Cartier, comprises 27 gigantic jadeite beads of magnificent green colour, excellent translucency, extremely fine texture and majestic proportions, with diameters ranging from 19.20 mm to 15.40 mm. It was first sold at auction in 1988 for US$2 million / HK$15.6 million and made news headlines as the most expensive piece of jadeite jewellery in the world. Six years later in 1994 it was offered at auction again in Hong Kong, this time doubling its previous price to achieve US$4.2 million / HK$33 million and once again bringing the price of jadeite jewellery to a new level.

The World’s Greatest Jadeite Bead Necklace of Supreme Historical Importance
The Cartier archive records the beads being in their possession in 1933 when an innovative clasp was designed especially for the Hutton family. The necklace was then presented as a wedding gift in the same year to Barbara Hutton from her father on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Mdivani. It was first worn publically by Barbara Hutton at her 21st birthday party, and remained in the Mdivani family for over five decades until it was first sold at auction in 1988 for US$2 million / HK$15.6 million and made news headlines as the most expensive piece of jadeite jewellery in the world. Six years later in 1994 it was offered at auction again in Hong Kong, this time doubling its previous price to achieve US$4.2 million / HK$33 million and once again bringing the price of jadeite jewellery to a new level.

Widely known as the most important piece of jadeite jewellery to date, this necklace comprises 27 highly translucent beads of perfectly matched colour, extremely fine texture and extraordinary majestic proportions ranging from 19.20 to 15.40 mm in diameter, as well as a patina and polish consistent with the fine craftsmanship from the late Qing period. The proportions alone render them highly unusual and impressive, as top-quality jadeite boulders normally yield beads of no more than 5 to 10 mm in diameter due to their extreme scarcity. To fashion a strand of matching jadeite beads, all the beads must be carved from the same boulder and as many as thrice the desired number of beads are often needed from which to select the most suitable ones. With the immense wastage involved, jadeite bead necklaces rank among the most valuable and sought-after forms of jadeite jewellery.

The Hutton-Mdivani Necklace is also remarkable for its design. Jade was incorporated into Western jewellery design in the early 20th century. As Cartier embraced this unique oriental gemstone, carved jade became a notable element in the brand’s signature Art Deco designs and a novel expression of luxury. The jadeite beads on the necklace were set by Cartier to a ruby and diamond clasp of clean and geometrical design. The red colour of rubies, whilst auspicious in Chinese culture, is also a fine example of the colour palette of the Art Deco period against the luminous green colour of the beads.

Barbara Hutton (1912 – 1979) – A Fabled Heiress and Iconic Collector
Socialite and heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton was among the few in the West known for her love for jadeite. Heiress to the retail tycoon Frank Winfield Woolworth, Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world when she turned 21, and known for her distinguished taste, lavish lifestyle as well as elegance and beauty. A great patron of the renowned jewellery houses, her collection encompassed unique commissioned pieces by the most celebrated jewellers, as well as important royal and noble jewels, among them a pearl necklace formerly belonging to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.



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