It glittered, but it wasn't gold for Jackie O

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The Independent Online
MARIANNE MACDONALD

Arts Correspondent

The publication of the sale catalogue detailing the jewellery of Jackie Kennedy Onassis has proved what the experts suspected all along - that the former First Lady may have had a lot, but it wasn't worth very much.

The hefty 560-page catalogue offers as many pieces of jewellery, but to the surprise of the uninitiated, many of the earrings, necklaces and bracelets, are - as one might say in polite circles - faux.

A classic example is the triple-strand pearl necklace Jackie O is wearing in the famous 1962 photograph showing her laughing as her son, John- John plays with the pearls.

In fact the necklace is paste, as are the diamonds in the Art Deco-style clasp. Its value is estimated at a mere pounds 330 to pounds 460.

Those wanting a reminder of the woman who was America's closest equivalent to royalty should find dozens of affordable keepsakes at the auction on 24 and 25 April at Sotheby's, New York.

A gilt necklace by Chanel is pounds 200 to pounds 260 and an elegant pair of fake pearl earrings pounds 130 to pounds 200. Even an elaborate collar of fake jet, moonstones, emeralds and mother-of-pearl is a snip at up to pounds 330.

Jackie O was known for her elegant and restrained taste, but a closer look at her huge collection of jewellery reveals her love of dramatic pieces, strong ethnic influences and bold shapes.It would be wrong, however, to imply that the gorgeous array of bright jewels are all within reach of ordinary mortals. Page 453 yields the marquise-shaped diamond engagement ring, by Harry Winston, given to Jackie by her second husband, Aristotle Onassis. The 40-carat Lesotho III diamond, estimated at up to pounds 400,000, came from a stone said to be one of the largest diamonds ever found.

But bidders should beware. Sale prices for celebrity sales tend to far outstrip the estimates. Last year a pair of Nureyev's worn ballet shoes, estimated at pounds 39, fetched pounds 5,912.

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