Christie’s is honored to offer for sale over 50 pieces of jewelry from the Estate of Pauline Ireland across our July Magnificent and Online Jewels sales. Born the eldest of five daughters of Charles William Ireland and Jeanette Adams Ireland, Pauline was a passionate collector of beautiful objects. Her father made his fortune by taking his family company Birmingham Slag onto the public stock exchange through a merger in the 1950s and forming Vulcan Materials Company. By doing so, he turned this newly formed company into the largest producer of crushed stone in the United States, using this material to develop and pave America’s $50 billion interstate highway system during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.
Aside from his success in business, Charles W. Ireland and his second wife, Caroline P. Ireland, were important collectors in the fields of fine and decorative arts and great benefactors of the Birmingham Museum of Art, where portraits of each of them commissioned from Andy Warhol hang on display today. Pauline followed in her father’s footsteps in not only her deep appreciation of the arts, but also in making a difference where she could, volunteering her time and using her financial resources to help people and organizations she believed in including the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, St. Luke’s Church, Advent Episcopal Church, and the Junior League in Birmingham.
From a young age Pauline was educated in the finest schools including Brooke Hill, Chatham Hall and Hollins College, where she continued to develop her love of cooking, dancing and interior design. After graduation, Pauline moved back to Birmingham, where she married and raised her two children, all while continually exploring her zest for life through travel and further self-education in art forms of all kinds. Pauline particularly loved wearing and collecting beautiful clothing, favoring designers such as Fendi, Bob Mackie, Jean Muir, Sonia Rykiel, and Valentino, which were purchased on regular trips to New York and Europe. Like most fashionable women, Pauline did not feel an outfit was truly complete without the proper jewelry.
Bold gold jewels set with gemstones were favorites with day wear, such as the beryl, yellow sapphire and cultured pearl brooch by Verdura (Lot 5), while predominantly diamond jewelry including the diamond necklace and earrings (Lot 1) and Art Deco emerald and diamond bracelet (Lot 3) were worn in the evening for formal occasions. In addition to the many wonderful jewels Pauline purchased for herself throughout the years, she also inherited several important pieces which descended in the family, including the Art Deco ruby and diamond jabot brooch by Cartier (Lot 2) as well as the citrine earrings and diamond and colored diamond cattail brooch, both by Suzanne Belperron (Lots 9 and 10).
This collection offers beautiful examples from some of the greatest American and European makers, reflecting Pauline’s superb taste, sense of fun, a love for color and appreciation for overall design. These jewels from her collection are offered with the hope that they will find new owners who will wear and appreciate them as much as Pauline did – a woman of impeccable style who lived life to the fullest.