After Princess Margaret’s death, her children held an auction for some of her belongings, including some stunning pieces of jewellery. Among them was this diamond riviere necklace, originally owned by Queen Mary, and auctioned by Christie’s in 2006.
The auction catalogue noted, “Designed as a graduated line of 34 old-cut diamonds, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1900, 35.5 cm. long, in fitted turquoise velvet Tessiers Ltd., 26 New Bond Street, case.” However, the lot notes provide significantly more detail:
“Accompanied by three handwritten notes, each in a different unidentified script. The first reads ‘Row of Diamonds from Lady Mount Stephen. 34 inc. snap.’; the second ‘Special Bequest H.M. The Queen (Later Queen Mary) Diamond Collet Necklace’; and the third ‘Lady Mount Stephen’ 34 stones in all The Princess Margaret’.
The necklace was known as the ‘Lady Mount Stephen’ after the second Lady Mount Stephen, Giana Tufnell. George Stephen (1829-1921) was a leading businessman and railway entrepreneur in Montreal and British Columbia and in 1891 became the first Canadian to be elevated to the peerage, taking the title The Baron Mount Stephen of Mount Stephen, British Columbia and Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire. After the death of his first wife he married Giana Tufnell, who had been Lady-In-Waiting to Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, the mother of H.M. Queen Mary. Giana was a lifelong friend and confidante of H.M. Queen Mary who wrote to her (then as H.R.H. The Duchess of York) on October 13th 1897, ‘How curious that you should have been engaged to Lord Mount Stephen just when my parents were at Brocket – I hope to see you at White Lodge on the 23rd when I will offer you my good wishes in person’. Lord and Lady Mount Stephen regularly entertained H.M. Queen Mary at Brocket Hall, and upon her death in 1933 Lady Mount Stephen bequeathed to H.M. Queen Mary this superb diamond rivière.
The rivière was without question one of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret favourite jewels, and certainly the one necklace combined with the diamond earrings (lot 190) and the Poltimore Tiara (lot 192) worn by the Princess on special and State occasions.”
The hammer price fetched by the necklace was USD $$1,828,224.