Wallis Simpson’s £100million jewellery collection deemed ‘garish’


The size of Wallis Simpson’s gemstones amazed royal fans, while others referred to them as “garish”.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, a popular diarist at the time, said Mrs Simpson must be wearing “dressmakers jewels”.

King Edward was reportedly so enchanted by Wallis that he gave her every jewel imaginable and also forfeited his title to the throne (in addition to the Crown Jewels, which are every monarch’s multibillion-pound birthright).

Wallis’s jewellery collection fetched £37million at auction in 1987, seven times the estimate, at Sotheby’s in Geneva. Today, that amount would be worth more than £100million.

The King’s first gift to Wallis was an orchid, which he gave her during a surprise party in June 1933 to celebrate her 37th birthday.

Edward (also known as David to his family) invited Wallis and her aunt to Biarritz in July 1934.

The first big gift occurred after this trip. Wallis’s aunt claimed the Duchess received “a tiny velvet pouch from Cartier…a diamond and emerald charm for a bracelet”.

Edward frequently gave charms as gifts and most of the time they were personalised with an intimate message and the date.

A Cartier bracelet with nine of these charms, which was put up for auction in 1987, is one piece of jewellery that stands out for its distinctive design.

“We are too” is written on the bracelet, which has the first charm that was presented to Wallis in November 1934, as well as the date 25-XI-34.

According to the Daily Telegraph, King George V was informed by his courtiers that his son had spent £110,000 on jewellery for an unknown woman in early 1935.

Six weeks earlier, Wallis attended a lavish reception at Buckingham Palace for the nuptials of Prince George and Princess Marina of Greece, where the Duchess donned jewels given to her by Edward, plus a borrowed Cartier tiara.

In his 2012 book, Treasures and Legends, Vincent Meylan claimed Edward started buying diamonds from Van Cleef & Arpels at Wallis’s recommendation in early 1935.

He purchased two dress clips made of diamonds and emeralds in February. Then, in October of that same year, he presented Wallis with a two-strand riviére necklace made of diamonds and emeralds.

When Edward became King in January 1936, he began buying more expensive gems for Wallis.

However, the duo never became King and Queen due to Edward’s abdication in December of that year.

Edward and Wallis later became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and relocated to France where they lived primarily alone.


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