Happy Birthday to Princess Gabriele zu Leiningen, the former Begum Inaara Aga Khan, who turns 60 today! The influential German Socialite who was married to a Prince of Leiningen before becoming the second wife of the Aga Khan, Princess Inaara auctioned many jewels from her spectacular at Christie’s in 2016, which included this striking heirloom Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace!
The striking necklace is designed as a series of diamond-set yellow gold flowerheads between marquise and circular-cut diamond white gold clusters, suspending fifteen cultured pearls to the front and one to the back, each with marquise-cut diamond cap and a pear-shaped diamond surmount. While the maker is unknown, the piece was likely acquired at Van Cleef & Arpels at some point int eh 1960s or 1970s, by Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, the widow of Aga Khan III and the step-grandmother of the current Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni, the Aga Khan IV.
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In 1975, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan wore the Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace when she joined Madame Franck Gay Gould to attend a gala dinner to inaugurate the new Loews Hotel in Monte Carlo.
A few years later, the Begum Aga Khan wore the Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace for a Van Cleef & Arpels Party in Gstaad in 1982, which suggests that the piece was made by Van Cleef & Arpels.
After the Begum Aga Khan passed way in 2000, as per her wishes, she willed that her entire estate to be donated to the Aga Khan Foundation, the Bellerive Foundation, and her own Om Habibeh Foundation. The lots were auctioned at Sotheby’s ‘H.H. Begum Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III Sale’ in Geneva in November 2000 and included the spectacular Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace, Lot 516.
However, unlike other jewels, including her Diamond Necklace, which were sold to unknown buyers, the Begum Aga Khan’s Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace was acquired by her grandson, the Aga Khan IV, for his wife, Begum Inaara Aga Khan, who commissioned a pair of matching earrings and a bangle from Van Cleef & Arpels, with the invoice dated 29 March 2001.
The Begum Inaara Aga Khan wore the Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace and the Van Cleef & Arpels Suite for the first time for a Gala at the Chateau de Versailles later that year.
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The most notable appearance of the Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace and her Van Cleef & Arpels Suite came when Begum Inaara Aga Khan attended a Charity Gala for the Fight Against Cancer at the Chateau de Versailles in 2004, just a few months before the couple announced their separation, finally divorcing in 2014.
In 2016, the Princess Inaara Aga Khan, the former Princess Gabriele zu Leiningen put many of her Jewels on Auction at Christie’s in Geneva, with the hope that will ‘continue to bring joy and happiness to their new owners’. The Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace and the Van Cleef & Arpels Bangle and Earrings had a pre-sale estimate of CHF 200,000 – CHF 300,000, eventually selling for CHF 293,000. Its current location is unknown.