The Story of Princess Diana’s Most Unusual Accessory, the Attallah Cross
When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981, she became a dream princess. On October 27, 1987, the Princess of Wales went to a charity gala in London. She wore a black and burgundy dress with a high-neck ruff and a striking cross necklace that was inspired by Elizabethan fashion. As she gained confidence, her style became more daring and fun.
“Not many people could pull this off, but Diana could,” says Ramsay Attallah of the statement crucifix that his late father, Naim Attallah, who was the publisher and former managing director of Asprey, owned. Ramsay said that his father had given this piece of art to Diana many times. “When I was growing up, we always put it on the table for Christmas lunch, but it was only ever worn by Diana and hasn’t been seen in public since she died,” he says.
The Princess’s beautiful gold, silver, amethyst, and diamond pendant will be sold at Sotheby’s Royal and Noble sale in London next month. Kristian Spofforth, head of jewellery at Sotheby’s in London, says, “It’s an amazing piece on its own, but when Princess Diana wore it, it became an iconic piece of jewellery.”
The sculpture will be sold at auction on January 6th for £80,000 to £120,000. Spofforth thinks that its history could make it worth more. He remembers that the rare Spencer Tiara, which Diana wore on her wedding day, made many people cry at a Sotheby’s auction of tiaras earlier this year.
Diana wore the Attallah Cross to a charity ball in 1984 for Birthright. Diana was once again the centre of attention at the Regent Street gala at Garrard, which used to be the crown jeweller. Given that Garrard may have made the cross in the early 20th century, it was a good choice. Spofforth thinks that the design in the style of the Renaissance was made for a specific client, possibly as a historical recreation.
It went well with Diana’s dramatic dress by one of her favourite designers, Catherine Walker, and she may have worn it with her own long pearl necklace. “It showed how Princess Diana wore her jewels with a mix of dedication and humour, as well as more than a hint of fashion, as we saw in the way she wore both real and fake jewellery in a playful way,” says author and jewellery expert Vivienne Becker. “The size and strength of this cross, which Madonna wears awkwardly on a long necklace, also show that she was a big star in the 1980s.
Amethysts have been linked to royalty and the church for a long time. The picture showed how much she loved Garrard for a long time. Diana got her sapphire engagement ring from Garrard in 1981. In the 1920s, Garrard made the Spencer Tiara for her family. Diana went to see Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in 1997 wearing a pearl and diamond necklace made by the Crown Jeweler.
Catherine Walker and pearls are what Kate, the new Princess of Wales, is wearing. The National Remembrance Service was held last month. Kate wore pearl earrings from her husband’s mother with a black coat dress by Catherine Walker that looked like it was made for the military.
Kate also showed off an Art Deco diamond brooch made by Bentley & Skinner. It could have been a present for her January 40th birthday. She wore it again on November 22 when she met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a state luncheon at Buckingham Palace.