Women of Style: The Legendary Jewelry Collectors of Palm Beach

Palm Beach is a city of legend and legendary jewelry mavens.
I thought I’d share a quick look at three of the city’s most renowned historical collectors:

One of her personal favorites was this 1928 Cartier Art Deco emerald, diamond and enamel pendant brooch that features more than 250 carats of carved emeralds dating to the Mughal period. She wore it often, including to the 1929 Palm Beach Everglades Costume Ball where she dressed as Juliette. Today it can be seen, along with other stellar pieces from her collection, at her house museum Hillwood, in Washington DC and at the Smithsonian Institution, where her donation helped to form the foundation of the Gem Gallery.

On her honeymoon cruise with Harrison Williams, her third husband and reportedly the richest man in the US, she purchased a 98.6 carat cornflower blue Ceylon sapphire in Sri Lanka which she had fashioned into a dramatic necklace by Cartier in 1935. Now known as the Bismarck Sapphire, it is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection.

Whether in New York, or Palm Beach, where she lived in a 1930s-era Neo-Classical home on Ocean Boulevard, she relied on her Webb pieces to add glamour to her day and evening looks. In Webb’s creative heyday of the 1960s and 70s, Lauder, along with other elite women of style, including Jackie Kennedy, Doris Duke and Elizabeth Taylor appreciated the modernity of his work with its distinctive scale and the drama it brought to any look. Lauder so favored Webb’s pieces that she even incorporated them in her ad campaigns.