Doris Duke Cartier Necklace Mounting

Platinum and baguette diamond necklace mounting by Cartier, c. 1937, sold for $53, 775 by the Doris Duke Foundation at Christie’s in 2004

I was absolutely certain I’d written about this, but I guess I’ve just been thinking about this wild Cartier necklace mounting, minus most of the diamonds, which the Doris Duke estate sold for $54,000 for 18 years. It was truly a standout in the auction of Duke’s jewelry.

The preposterously scaled necklace was purchased by Duke’s boyfriend, a couple of years before they got married. She raided the necklace over the years, and remounted 79 of the diamonds in other pieces, leaving a gorgeous, platinum husk.

Doris Duke’s Zombie Cartier Diamond Necklace, reconstituted with period-correct diamonds and offered at Christie’s Geneve in May 2017 for CHF 3-5 million, image via alaintruong

A jewelry aficionado with an absurdly advanced appreciation of historical accuracy, and possessed of a conceptual sophistication rivaled only by their access to money, apparently spent years assembling period-correct cushion and Old European-cut stones to reconstitute Doris Duke’s Depression-era diamond fringe necklace. This zombie necklace was offered for sale at Christie’s in 2017, with an estimate of CHF 3-5 million. It did not sell, at least publicly.

Out of respect for the time and effort required to assemble them, I don’t want the diamonds to be released back into the wild; put them in a little bag. But definitely take them out, and let the necklace be restored to its perfect, skeletal state. It’s what Doris would have wanted.