Diana’s Necklace, With Its 178 Diamonds, Is Up for Sale


    Good morning. We’ll look at a necklace that was made for Diana, Princess of Wales, shortly before she died. It will be sold in New York next month. We’ll also look at a survey that says one in four New Yorkers lost at least one person they were close to during the early part of the pandemic.

    Credit…Jacqueline Arzt/Associated Press

    In London, the preparations for the coronation of King Charles III are all but complete. The ceremony starts at 6 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.

    In New York, the preparations for the sale of a certain diamond-and-pearl necklace and a pair of earrings are just beginning. The necklace was worn once. The earrings, never — at least not by the original owner, Diana, Princess of Wales, who was, of course, the new king’s first wife.

    Diana, and the 178 diamonds and five South Sea pearls in the necklace, were photographed endlessly when she wore it to a performance of the ballet “Swan Lake” in London on June 3, 1997. It was nearly a year after she and Charles had divorced amid a remarkable duel for attention and approval.

    The appearance was one of her last, and the only time she wore the necklace in public. And it was something to see: Each pearl is just under a half-inch in size, and the diamonds were dazzling. “It is said that she was photographed more on that evening than at any other time except her wedding,” said Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guernsey’s auction house in New York, which will auction the necklace on June 27 at the Pierre Hotel. His presale estimate is $5 million to $15 million.

    Soon after the night at the ballet, the crown jeweler asked Diana to send the necklace back. “He hadn’t finished the earrings,” Ettinger said, “and in order to create the earrings to be a perfect match, he needed the necklace in hand.”

    The earrings had been finished, but the completed set had not been sent to her when she was killed in a car crash in Paris not quite three months later. Also killed was her companion, Emad Mohamed al-Fayed, who was known as Dodi.

    “Diana, by every account, really didn’t own any jewelry when she was princess,” Ettinger said. “When she went out for the evening, if it was a royal occasion she attended, she would be wearing jewelry loaned to her by the crown. When she divorced, many people would’ve been content to say this was my 15 minutes of fame and live the rest of their days going to quiet tea parties in the English countryside. She took a different path” — designing the necklace and earrings herself.

    “She made them in materials I was told she loved,” he said. “This was part of her in ways many other things were just temporary.”

    But Diana had not yet paid for the necklace or the earrings, Ettinger said — and was not going to. He said the necklace and earrings were to have been a gift from al-Fayed. But with al-Fayed dead, Ettinger said that the crown jeweler, the firm now known as Garrard, had a problem: how to recoup the cost. Diana’s family eventually authorized a sale, Ettinger said. The necklace and earrings were sold to a British lord who said in 1999 that his wife had come to realize she would never wear them because the tragedy of Diana’s death “was still too fresh.”

    The lord brought them to Ettinger, who promoted them on the “Today” show and on “Oprah” and sold them for just under $1 million. He said the buyer was Jim McIngvale, a Houston furniture magnate known as Mattress Mack. He sold them in 2010 after telling Ettinger simply, “It’s time.”

    That is also what Ettinger said the current owner, Mark Ginzburg, a Ukrainian real estate developer, had told him. Ginzburg’s son Vladislav said his father remembers the reaction to Diana’s death in Kyiv, where people formed a line that stretched a half-mile from the British Embassy.

    “That’s how meaningful she was,” said Vladislav Ginzburg, who was 10 when Diana died. The necklace and earrings “were never something to be worn,” he said. “They were really something that was supposed to be iconic and treasured.”


    Prepare for showers on a partly sunny day in the low 60s. At night, expect scattered showers, with temps dropping to the high 40s.


    In effect until May 18 (Solemnity of the Ascension).

    New city data put the scale of loss in New York in the early stages of the pandemic in sharp relief: An estimated two million New Yorkers — nearly one in four — lost at least one person who was close to them to Covid in the first 16 months of the pandemic.

    The data also showed that nearly 900,000 New Yorkers lost at least three people they had been close to, an open-ended category that included friends as well as relatives.

    The data came from in-person interviews with more than 7,000 households in the city. The questions about the pandemic were added to the triannual survey, whose main purpose is to assess New Yorkers’ housing conditions.

    My colleague Sharon Otterman writes that the findings echoed earlier studies, which had shown that Black and Hispanic New Yorkers died from Covid-19 at disproportionately higher rates in 2020 and 2021. In part, this was because of higher poverty levels and less access to high-quality medical care. But people of color made up the majority of the essential workers who continued to go to work during the city’s initial 11-week shutdown, when schools and nonessential businesses were ordered to close and people were urged to stay home.

    About a quarter of all New Yorkers lost at least one person they were close to because of the virus, but the survey found that about a third of low-income essential workers did. And 16 percent of low-income essential workers lost at least three people to Covid-19, compared with 11 percent of all New Yorkers.

    The psychological scars from those losses continue to reverberate. Janeth Solis, 52, of the Bronx, lost four loved ones during the first year and a half of the pandemic. Her mother, step-grandmother and grandmother, who lived together in a house in Ridgewood, Queens, all died, one by one, in the pandemic’s first weeks. Her mother-in-law died in April 2021.

    Not until this year was Solis able to visit her grandmother’s ashes, which had been shipped to her native home in Colombia in June 2020.

    By May 2021, about 33,000 New Yorkers had died of Covid-19, according to a New York Times tracker. At least 6,000 New Yorkers have died since then from the virus.


    Dear Diary:

    While strolling through SoHo, I stopped at a popular deli for lunch.

    As the waiter approached with a pitcher of ice water, I shook my head and asked for bottled water.

    “For some reason, the tap water doesn’t agree with me,” I said.

    He looked at me for a long moment before answering.

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