Dubbed the “Million Dollar Baby”, Barbara Hutton became one of the wealthiest women in the world in 1933 at the age of 21. Traveling from palace to palace, she led a luxurious and extravagant lifestyle. In 1951, she attended Charles de Beistegui’s famous “Bal du Siècle,” mixing naturally with high society.
But it was her passion for jewels that made her a legend. She had a great collection of pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels and Pierre Arpels would personally take her orders.
Disque earrings, 1934, Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection
Fond of the Maison's classics, she purchased these diamond Disque earrings in 1934…
Ludo bracelet formerly owned by Barbara Hutton, 1935, Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection / Ludo bracelet retail card, 1935, Van Cleef & Arpels' Archives
… and this unique version of the Ludo bracelet in 1935, set in platinum with diamonds. Typically set in yellow gold, this iconic model of the Maison displays a very couture style with its mesh-like bracelet and stylized buckle motif clasp.
Spirit of Beauty brooch formerly purchased by Barbara Hutton as a gift for a friend, 1944, Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection
Another emblematic Van Cleef & Arpels creation she purchased was the “Spirit of Beauty” Dragonfly Fairy brooch in 1944, set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. She also admired the Maison's newly introduced Ballerina brooches, purchasing one of them in 1944.
Stones selection for Madame Doan de Champassak’s special order, 1946, Private Collection
For Christmas 1946, she had Van Cleef & Arpels deliver scores of brooches, cufflinks, and watches to her friends. This gesture was not only an expression of her generosity, but also of her bond with the Maison. One of the most spectacular collaborations between the famous socialite and the High Jewelry Maison remains this tiara. Composed of 22 exceptional pear-shaped diamonds (including three pear-shaped diamonds of 54.82, 21.49, and 21.62 carats), this fantastic piece speaks of the supreme passion Barbara Hutton had for jewelry. Story has it that on one of Pierre Arpels’ many visits, she was feeling unwell, so she asked him to visit her in her bedroom. There he found her lying in bed, her head resting on a pillow trimmed with lace and wearing the tiara.