The Cartier-designed diamond panther bracelet, owned by Wallis Simpson whose affair with Edward VIII led to his abdication, was sold by Sotheby’s for a world record-breaking £4.5 million ($7 million). It was the most expensive bracelet and most expensive Cartier item to be sold at any auction. It was a part of a collection owned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor which fetched a total of £7,975,550 ($12,417,369).
The articulated body designed to encircle the wrist and to assume a stalking attitude, pave-set with brilliant- and single-cut diamonds and calibre-cut onyx, the eyes each set with a marquise-shaped emerald, wearing length approximately 165mm, total length approximately 195mm, signed Cartier, Paris and numbered, French assay and maker’s marks; the bracelet divides in two places, under the head and in the centre of the back, the tongue-piece of the latter inscribed, Cartier, Paris; the clasp numbered, several small stones deficient.
The Duchess of Windsor had several ‘cat’ jewels in her collection which began with the emerald brooch in 1948 and this particular area of her collection was continued to be added to over the next nearly twenty years. In 1949 the Duke purchased a panther clip with sapphire spots seated on a Kashmir cabochon sapphire weighing 152.35 carats. This particular onyx and diamond bracelet in the form of an outstretched panther was purchased from Cartier in December 1952; the sale is recorded unusually as being by the Duchess herself and not to their very good client S.A.R Le Duc de Windsor. The most striking thing about this piece is not only the realistic design but its supple highly articulated linking allowing it to move very elegantly; the matching brooch to this jewel was not purchased until 1966. Other cat jewels included an unusual pair of lorgnettes, the handle designed as a tiger with a raised paw which was purchased in 1954. A pair of Cartier tiger jewels set with onyx and fancy yellow diamonds in the form of a bracelet was acquired in 1956 and the matching clip in 1959.