Cartier Paris, 1957
Gold, diamonds, emeralds (Emerald Eyes), onyx (striped), 65 x 42 x 10mm
Geneva, Collection Cartier, Inventory no CL 140 A57
Barbara Hutton (1912-1979), granddaughter of the Woolworth department store magnate, was one of the richest women in the world, and yet was never able to find happiness in her personal life. Her mother died when she was 4 years old and the child was raised in custody of her grandfather until his death in 1919. Subsequently, her childhood was miserable and filled with social events, travelling, and all manner of luxuries, supported by her inheritance of the immense fortune of her grandparents and her mother. A song, "Poor Little Rich Girl", composed by Noel Howard in 1920, made allusion to Barbara Hutton's life. At the age of eighteen, she made her coming-out as debutante and was introduced to George V and Queen Marie at Buckingham Palace. In 1933, Barbara married the Russian Prince Alexis Mdivani, the first of her seven marriages. At her wedding, she wore an exceptional pearl necklace and a tortoiseshell tiara studded with diamonds, bearing the Cartier signature. Passionate about sumptuous jewellery, she became one of the jeweller’s most loyal customers. In 1935, Barbara Hutton married again, this time to the Count Haugwitz-Reventlow, a Dane, born in Prussia. It is during this period that she bought the Romanov emeralds, acquired from Cartier. Following the death of her only child, Lance Reventlow, she will herself pass away in 1979 in Los Angeles, scarred by illness and loneliness. The film "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story" tells the tale of Barbara Hutton’s life, as interpreted by the actress Farrah Fawcett in 1987.