The Attallah Cross, an amethyst and diamond pendant necklace cross once worn by Princess Diana, was purchased by none other than Kim Kardashian at a Sotheby’s London auction in January. The piece was created in the 1920s by British jewelry house, Garrard, as a private commission. Naim Attallah, the former group chief executive of Asprey & Garrard, acquired the cross and loaned it to his friend, Diana, on at least one occasion.
With the recent sale making headlines, I spoke with Sandra Hindman, founder and president of antique gallery Les Enluminures, about how cross-themed jewelry has evolved over the years.
Les Enluminures will be exhibiting at the TEFAF Maastricht art fair March 11 – 19, with invitation-only preview days, March 9 and 10.
Anthony DeMarco: How have crosses been used in jewelry through the centuries? Were they always worn as religious symbols?
Sandra Hindman: Yes, of course — the cross was a sign of Christianity [from] 300 CE, the time of Constantine, and they were worn by monks and nuns, kings and queens, knights and ladies. They were often containers of relics, such as the relic of the True Cross (there are enough relics of the True Cross to create a forest!). Some religious orders used them as a symbol sewn on their habits.
By the 15th and 16th centuries, elegant women wore crosses often with other jewelry on fancy brocaded and velvet dresses (not unlike Princess Diana’s beautiful purple robe). By the 16th century, [it became] a fashion accessory.