Doris Duke’s Shangri La

If there were a woman who was truly worth the title “heiress”, Doris Duke would have all the competition beat. In fact, she defined it. To go along with the headlines and the coterie of men, she had an enviable collection of jewels which included quite a few important Seaman Schepps  designs that were exhibited as part of the Schepps retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York in 2004. Her true legacy was in the $1.3 billion fortune that was largely left upon her death to charitable foundations dedicated to medical research, prevention of cruelty to children and animals, the performing arts, wildlife and ecology.

While flipping through the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, I was particularly pleased to see that Doris Duke is in the spotlight once again.  How fitting that the Museum of Arts & Design in New York is mounting an exhibition celebrating her dedication to Islamic art and architecture through a showcase of the haven she had built for herself in the 1930s in Honolulu, Hawaii–Shangri La. The exhibition runs from September 7, 2012 – February 17, 2013. I can’t wait to see it and find out more about this fascinating heiress of all heiresses!
Doris Duke in Harper's Bazaar, September 2012

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If Jewels Could Talk

Duchess of Windsor's Seaman Schepps pearl and diamond earrings

William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.”  I can’t think of a more fitting quote for Seaman Schepps jewelry. From Hollywood screen sirens to American First Ladies to jet-setting heiresses, Schepps jewels have certainly been on an illustrious adventure or two, in the heady midst of history in the making. Can you imagine the things these jewels have seen, the situations they’ve been in, and the conversations that they have been privy to?

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Doris Duke

Doris Duke wearing Seaman Schepps bracelet and ring

Here’s a photo of Miss Duke from 1953, wearing her Schepps citrine cabochon bracelet and ring suite, made for her in December of 1940. At that time, the price was $500! The pairing with a crisp white shirt is absolute perfection.

The set was part of the Christie’s “Magnificient Jewels from the Doris Duke Collection” auction in 2004. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Doris Duke's Seaman Schepps citrine bracelet and ring at Christie's

To see some of her other Schepps’ pieces, see our previous post.

Doris Duke

This past week, some of the Schepps vintage jewelry was taken out of our vaults for an upcoming exhibition in Hong Kong! I had the opportunity to see the famous grape brooch (made in 1937) in sapphire, emerald, and diamond that belonged to the heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke–part of an amazing sapphire suite that also includes a bracelet and earrings. The grape brooch is fantastic–one forgets the scale of it; there’s nothing diminutive or quaint about it. It measures almost 5 inches high!

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