David Webb’s $1.2 Million Drop Pearl Earrings

Philanthropist Noreen Stonor Drexel, who passed away in 2012 at age 90, may be best remembered for her tireless work for the American Red Cross and other health organizations. But the Newport, R.I., social fixture also left behind some incredible jewelry—like these gorgeous David Webb pearl and diamond drops, which fetched $1.2 million (nearly 10 times their estimate) at the Dec. 10 Magnificent Jewels auction at Christie’s New York. The earrings had been in Drexel’s family for several decades before being remounted by Webb in the 1960s. “They are an exquisite pair of matched rare natural pearl drops, and they are in perfect condition,” says Daphne Lingon, senior vice president and senior specialist for Christie’s, adding that Webb’s loyal clients often asked him to rework family pieces into something more contemporary. “He would create a jewel in his unique and distinctive style,” says Lingon, “while preserving the most important elements of the original piece.” Case in point: In designing these decadent drops, Webb wisely allowed the radiant pearls to hog center stage.

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