Next week, Christie’s in Geneva is Auctioning some spectacular Royal and Noble Jewels in their annual Magnificent Jewels Sale, one of the highlights of which is Dame Nellie Melba’s Cartier Devant-de-Corsage, which we are featuring today!
A spectacular Cartier Belle Epoque Natural Pearl and Diamond ‘Garland Style’ Devant-De-Corsage, composed of natural pearls and old and rose-cut diamonds set in platinum, of which the large central pearl was given by Herr con Mendelssohn while the large diamonds were given by the subscribers of the Theatre de la Monnaie. Two diamond bracelets and the devant-de-corsage may be joined and worn as a necklace.
Created by Cartier London ahead of the Coronation of King Edward VII, 1902. Dame Nellie Melba wore the piece for the Coronation Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1902 and also for a portrait with her father and niece taken around 1903.
Dame Nellie Melba’s only heir was her granddaughter; Pamela, Lady Vestey who gave the Cartier Devant-de-Corsage to her daughter-in-law, Celia, Baroness Vestey, around 1983. The Corsage was worn as a necklace for a series of portraits taken a few years ago.
In 2018, Lord and Lady Vestey loaned Dame Nellie Melba’s Cartier Devant-de-Corsage to ‘Cartier: The Exhibition’ at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and it seems it was discreetly sold at not long afterwards, at the same time as the Vestey Tiara now belonging to the Duchess of Brabant and other jewels were sold at Christie’s.