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The World’s Most Famous Jewelry: The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace

When daddy is one of the richest men in America (so is grandpa, but who's counting) and you're getting married, what kind of wedding present should you expect? Clearly, a piece of jewelry to make even the most seasoned of jewelry collectors catch their breath is in order. And so it went with Barbara Hutton, the only child of Edna and Franklyn Laws Hutton (and granddaughter of Frank W. Woolworth). When Barbara married a prince in 1933, her father bequeathed her with an outstanding jadeite necklace by Cartier, later dubbed Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace.
The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace
The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace. Photo: Sotheby’s.

When daddy is one of the richest men in America (so is grandpa, but who’s counting) and you’re getting married, what kind of wedding present should you expect? Clearly, a piece of jewelry to make even the most seasoned of jewelry collectors catch their breath is in order. And so it went with Barbara Hutton, the only child of Edna and Franklyn Laws Hutton (and granddaughter of Frank W. Woolworth). When Barbara married a prince in 1933, her father bequeathed her with an outstanding jadeite necklace by Cartier, later dubbed Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace.

Barbara Hutton and her first husband Georgian Prince Alexis Mdivani at the Metropolitan Opera in 1933. She’s wearing the jade necklace her father gave her.

Barbara Hutton’s story is worth the time you’ll spend down that rabbit hole. To say that her life was fairly tragic would be an understatement. But her jewelry collection? That was the stuff dreams are made of (don’t even get me started on the Pasha). While not one of her most talked about pieces, this may have been one of the most outstanding.

The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace
A closer look at the jade beads in the Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace Photo: Sotheby’s

The necklace, now owned by the Cartier Collection, is made of 27 graduated jadeite beads, with a clasp of 18k yellow gold, rubies, and diamonds. It’s lovely by any account, but when you take into consideration that such high quality jade usually can not yield beads more than 10mm in diameter due to the scarcity of jadeite boulders, it’s rarity takes on new meaning. Each bead in the necklace measures over 15mm in diameter and all beads were carved from the same boulder. Which helps to explain its most recent realized auction price in 2014 of $27.4 million dollars.

The Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace
The ruby and diamond clasp on the Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace Photo: Sotheby’s

Are you a lover of jade? Would you wear the Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklac if it were given to you on your wedding day? Share your thoughts below.

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