A fabulous ruby-and-diamond bracelet designed for screen siren Marlene Dietrich and most recently owned by socialite Anne Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, could fetch $4.5 million when it hits the auction block at Christie's New York on June 7.
The bracelet was Dietrich's favorite piece of jewelry and she famously wore it in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1950 thriller, Stage Fright. In the film's trailer, Dietrich clasps the cuff while chatting with co-star Richard Todd in a pivotal scene. Hitchcock shot the film in black and white, so the intense color of the rubies had to be left to viewers' imagination. She also wore the bracelet to the Academy Awards in 1951.
It's difficult to classify the piece because it has a totally unique design.
Speaking with The New York Times in 1992 (the year Dietrich passed away at the age of 90 and Eisenhower anonymously won the piece at auction), Dietrich’s grandson Peter Riva revealed that author Erich Maria Remarque convinced his lover to "take all her bits of jewelry and make them into one fabulous piece."
In 1937, jeweler to the stars Louis Arpels conceived Dietrich's "Jarretière" bracelet from diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, a ruby bracelet and earring set, a couple of pins and more. The cushion-cut Burmese rubies are accented by round, rectangular and baguette-cut diamonds, all set in platinum.
The New York Times has described Dietrich’s Jarretière piece as a “modernist platinum cuff” featuring “an exaggerated, asymmetrical loop covered in cushion-cut rubies set atop twin buckle-like bands of… diamonds.”
If you were wondering, "Jarretière" means "garter" in French.
“This bracelet is legendary in a lot of ways,” Claibourne Poindexter, vice president and jewelry specialist at Christie’s, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s bold. It’s very large in scale and has a wonderful curvature. She wore it so beautifully in Stage Fright and you get this appreciation for how sculptural the design is. It doesn’t really fit into any period. It’s not art deco jewelry. It’s not retro jewelry. It’s just sort of high glamour. It really is its own work of art.”
The first time it came to auction in 1992, Eisenhower purchased it for $990,000 — an amount that far exceeded its presale estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
Eisenhower subsequently enlisted Van Cleef & Arpels to design a complementary necklace and earrings — both of which will appear at the upcoming auction.
Now, 31 years later, the Jarretière bracelet is expected to sell in the range of $2.5 million to $4.5 million, although it could sell for more due to a provenance that ties it to one of the most famous movie stars and a member of a pre-eminent American family.
Eisenhower, who passed away last year at the age of 73, was a New York-based interior designer, collector and philanthropist.
The Jarretière bracelet is the top lot from Christie’s upcoming June 7 sale in New York, titled “The Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower.”
“From Marlene Dietrich to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Anne Eisenhower collection traces the history of the last century through a single collector’s brilliant passion for fine jewels,” said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas. ”Anne Eisenhower had a keen eye for the finest examples of the jeweler’s art, and her collection tells fascinating and interwoven stories of patrons and collectors.”
The collection will be on tour, starting in Los Angeles on March 23 and ending in New York City on June 6. Other stops on the tour will include Shanghai, Paris, Taipei, Geneva and Hong Kong.
Credits: Ruby bracelet photo courtesy of Christie's. Screen capture from "Stage Fright" trailer via YouTube.com.