The $4.3 Million Diamond Spare Bib That Rocked Sotheby’s

Aside from its fabric-like pliability—a rarity for necklaces of this size—the most remarkable aspect of this Van Cleef & Arpels jewel may be its mere existence. The circa-1939 piece is “literally made up of a year’s worth of inventory—hundreds of engagement rings,” says Frank Everett, VP and sales director of Sotheby’s New York jewelry department. “It was so ripe to be broken up. The fact that it survived intact is amazing.” The necklace, which sold for $4.3 million on Dec. 9 at Sotheby’s New York City, was once the property of Queen Nazli Fouad, former queen mother of Egypt. It hosts a dazzling 6 ct. round-cut center stone and “seven of the biggest baguette-cut diamonds I’ve ever seen,” Everett adds. “It’s probably the most spectacular jewel I’ve ever handled. When pieces like this show up, it’s like finding a lost Rembrandt.” 

“The necklace is incredibly supple, considering how huge the diamonds are. It really does feel like fabric.”

—Frank Everett

Van Cleef & Arpels bib necklace with 6 ct. round-cut center diamond, 161 cts. t.w. round diamonds, and 50 cts. t.w. baguette-cut diamonds (photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s)