Tulip time in New York
Tulips along Park Avenue. 2:20 PM. Photo: JH.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in New York with the temperature in the 70s. Over at Sotheby’s Barbara Cates hosted a luncheon for her cousin John Loring who is Tiffany’s design director and (now more than accidental) archivist through his 19 books (the 20th is about to be published by Abrams) on Tiffany’s history and style.

John Loring and Barbie Bancroft

Yesterday’s luncheon celebrated John’s book, Tiffany Diamonds.

Just before lunch John told us that diamonds are more popular than ever in this country. And so too is his book which is now in its second printing.

John also told us that diamonds were not always popular with society women in New York. In the 1840s, for example, it would have been considered vulgar for a woman to wear a diamond. They got over it, obviously.

In fact by the 1880s when the Mrs. Astor reigned as the ultimate arbiter of what was and what was not vulgar, she drenched herself in so many diamonds that some people called her the human chandelier. Now, of course it’s the more the merrier.

Nancy, Lady Astor wearing her tiara with the famous 55.29-carat pear-shaped Sancy diamond  
Evalyn Walsh McLean wearing the Hope Diamond  
The Hope Diamond  
Nancy, Lady Astor (pictured left) in 1948 attending the opening of Parliament wearing her tiara with the famous 55.29-carat pear-shaped Sancy diamond which was a wedding gift from her father-in-law in 1906. Lady Astor, who was born Nancy Langhorne in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in 1879, was also the first woman member of Parliament.

Famous for her scrappy and supercilious personality, she is once said to have remarked to Winston Churchill, “if I were your wife, I’d poison your tea,” to which he is said to have replied: “If I were your husband, I’d drink it.” The Sancy diamond was one of the French crown jewels acquired on loan from its owner Nicolas Harlay de Sancy to Henry III.

Henry’s successor sent it off with a servant to use as collateral for a war loan. Robbed en route, the servant swallowed the stone and was promptly murdered by the thieves. Henry’s agents recovered the body, opened it up and rescued the stone although the crown could still not afford to buy it. It was then sold to James I of England who passed it on to Charles I who married Henrietta, daughter of Henry IV of France. In 1645 it was sold to the Duke of Epernon to settle debts of Charles I.

Epernon sold it to Cardinal Mazarin, the first minister of France and a collector of diamonds. When he died in 1661, he left it to Louis XIV, also a great collector of diamonds. Under his successor, Louis XV, the diamond ornamented his crown. It was also a favorite of his queen, Marie Leszczynska and Marie Antoinette. It disappeared in the crown jewel robbery in 1792 during the French Revolution.

It resurfaced five years later in Madrid to a marquis who later passed it on to Prime Minister Godoy of Spain. Godoy sold it in 1828 to Count Demidoff who died the same year who left it to his teenage son Anatole. Anatole later married Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, a cousin of Napoleon III. In 1892 it was sold to William Waldorf Astor who fourteen years later gave it to his new daughter-in-law. In 1978, her son, Viscount Astor sold it to the Bank of France and the Museum of France for $1 million. Today it is displayed in the Louvre alongside the even more famous Regent Diamond

The 44 carat Hope Diamond was originally 110.5 carats, and is the most famous blue diamond ever discovered. Found in 1642 in the Kollur mine near Golconda, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier brought it back from India in 1669 and sold it to Louis XIV.

It was recut for Louis to 69.03 carats in a heart-shape, which the Sun King wore as a pendant on a ribbon around his neck. Louis XV also wore it on a ribbon around his neck. During the French Revolution the diamond was kept in the Garde Meuble and stolen during the robbery of 1792 and went missing for twenty years. It re-surfaced as a 44-carat brilliant cut blue diamond in 1812 in London where it was purchased between 1824 and 1830 by Henry Philip Hope. Hope’s nephew Henry Thomas Hope later bought it from his uncle’s estate. When he died, his wife inherited. She left it, in 1887, to her grandson Lord Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope.

In 1894, Lord Henry married an American actress May Yohe. He went bankrupt the following year but held onto the diamond until it was sold in 1901 to Simon Frankel of Joseph Frankel’s and Son of New York who later sold it to the Turkish sultan Abd al-Hamid II who sold it when he was deposed in 1909 to a Paris dealer named Rosenau. Two years later, Pierre Cartier brought it to New York and sold it to goldmining heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean
(pictured above, left) who wore it suspended from a diamond necklace until her death in 1947. Two years later it was sold to Harry Winston in New York who later presented it to the Smithsonian.
Left: The diamond necklace, part of the French crown jewels was collier aux quartre rivieres, a four-strand diamond necklace which originally had two large shoulder bows. Set with 222 diamonds weighing a total of 363 carats. It was made for Empress Eugenie in 1863-64. On May 12, 1867, Tiffany & Company paid 183,000 francs for the four-strand necklace (the bows were auctioned separately) and sold the necklace to Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World. Pulitzer's wife wore the necklace to a party in Paris the next day.
On to the lunch ...
Missy McCloy and Pat Patterson
Judy Taubman and Margo Langenberg

Barbara Cates

Carroll Petrie
Darcy Leeds

Sondra Gilman

Stephanie French

Armene Milliken

Sandra McConnell and Regine Traulsen
Jo Hallingby

Diane Byrne

Asha Phutli
Carol Belladora

Carol Elkins and Peggy Loar

Paige Rense

Betty Sherrill and Helen O'Hagan

Jackie Williams
Jeremy Wren

Anne Slater

Gloria Schiff and Anka Palitz
Stephanie Krieger and Regina Greeven

Last night at Doubles, the private club in the Sherry-Netherland, Chris Meigher, the publisher of Quest magazine held a cocktail reception for the magazine’s annual 400 List. (more coverage on Friday's Party Pics).

Steve McPherson
Lisa Hagen and Gary Pudney

Jamee Gregory and Jackie Williams

Cece Cord
Alice Mason

Mark Gilbertson and Amy Hoadley

Andrew Saffir, Bettina Zilkha, and Jill Roosevelt
Tony Hoyt

Jackie Weld and Peter Gregory

Last night at the Mandarin Oriental, the American Academy in Rome held its annual dinner and honored writers Barbara Goldsmith, Mark Strand, and Joan Didion. Calvin Trillin was master of ceremonies.

The American Academy in Rome is one of the leading American overseas centers for independent study and advanced research in the fine arts and the humanities.

Inspired by their comradeship in organizing America's contribution to the fine arts at the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893, a group of men, including architects Charles Follen McKim and Daniel Burnham, painters John La Farge and Francis Millet, and sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French, decided to create a center to study art amid the classical tradition of ancient Rome.

In 1894 McKim founded the American School of Architecture in Rome. McKim accomplished this by involving artists and architects but as importantly, the American financial titans of his time -- J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Henry Clay Frick. A year later the American School of Classical Studies in Rome was formed by the Archaeological Institute of America, and in 1913, a union between the two Schools became what is now the American Academy in Rome.

Through its annual Rome Prize fellowship program, the Academy supports up to 30 individuals working in archaeology, architecture, classical studies, design arts, historic preservation and conservation, history of art, landscape architecture, literature, modern Italian studies, musical composition, post-classical humanistic studies and visual arts.

Judith Miller
Jane and Morley Safer

Lyn Nesbit and Catie Marron

Somers Farkas
Dr. Judith Ginsberg and Paul LeClerc

Mercedes and Sid Bass

Ivana Lowell and James Reginato
Nina Rosenwald

Alex Kuczynski

Ann Nitze and Liz Smith
Doda Voridis
Pia Lindstrom and Jack Carley

Virginia Mailman

Gale Hayman and Jason Epstein
Kathy Rayner

Robert A.M. Stern and Mercedes Bass


Click here for NYSD Contents

April 20, 2006, Volume VI, Number 67
Photographs by DPC & Jeff Hirsch/NYSD.com


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com