A ring centering an emerald-cut emerald in a millegrain bezel accented on the sides with old European-cut diamonds in millegrain settings, the outline of the millegrain creating a four-leaf form; mounted in platinum.

1 emerald-cut emerald, weighing 8.51 carats, 34 old European-cut diamonds, total weighing approximately 0.50 carat, signed by Tiffany & Co.

Provenance

Helen Hay Whitney (Mrs. Payne Whitney)

Biography

Founded in New York City in 1837 by Charles L. Tiffany and John C. Young, Tiffany & Co. become one of the foremost jewellers and silversmiths of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Tiffany’s son, Louis Comfort, created notable Art Nouveau leaded glass lamps, stained glass windows, and Favrile glassware. In 1902, he began making jewellery and from 1907 to 1933 all of his jewellery was produced by and marked Tiffany & Co. Today, Tiffany & Co. operates stores in all major cities worldwide.

Significance

In February 1902, as America transitioned from the Gilded Age to the Progressive era, the marriage of Helen Hay and Payne Whitney made newspaper headlines across the country. Their wedding was attended by President Theodore Roosevelt, members of the United States Cabinet and Supreme Court, and the height of American society. A socialite and published poet, Helen Hay was the daughter of John Hay who had been Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary and served as secretary of state under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. A financier and philanthropist, Payne Whitney was an influential and wealthy member of a prominent American family with roots on the Mayflower. Upon their marriage, Payne’s uncle commissioned Stanford White to construct an opulent mansion at 972 5th Avenue including the Venetian Room, an astonishing mirrored reception room and Helen’s favourite place.

The couple shared a passion for the arts, philanthropy, and horse racing. They owned Greentree Stables, renowned in racing circles, which Helen continued after her husband’s death in 1927. In 1931 her horse, Twenty Grand, won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. After the wins, Helen was referred to in the sporting pages as the “First Lady of American Turf.” When her husband passed he left the largest estate on record; he was the third wealthiest man in the country behind John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. The couple gave enormous bequests to organisations supporting the arts and sciences, including the New York Public Library, New York Hospital, Yale University, and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. Their children continued their philanthropic, artistic, political, and sporting interests. Joan Whitney Payson was co-founder of the New York Mets and John Hay Whitney was U.S Ambassador to the United Kingdom, publisher of the New York Herald Tribune, and president of the Museum of Modern Art.

Helen Hay Whitney epitomised the wealth and style of a prominent American family, including having exceptional jewellery. The magnificent Whitney Emerald features a beautiful Colombian emerald in a millegrain Art Deco mounting by Tiffany designed to catch the light and enhance the stones’ sparkle. The shoulders of the ring include subtle four-leaf clover forms, perhaps intended to bring her luck at the races. Owned by an important American family and designed by the top American jewellery firm, The Whitney Emerald is an important American Art Deco jewel and will be an exceptional addition to any collection.

For pricing, more information, or to schedule a viewing, contact:

Sarah Davis, sarah@siegelson.com