Broadcaster and journalist Barbara Walters had an eye for a good design. Her home on the Upper East Side, New York, was filled with the art, furniture and objects she collected on her travels, while her jewellery box brimmed with iconic designs from American jewellery houses.
Now, Walters’ estate – including a 120-piece jewellery collection she wore during many of her high-profile interviews – is heading to auction with Bonhams New York. The ’Barbara Walters: American Icon’ sale will see pieces from Seaman Schepps, Angela Cummings and Harry Winston, amongst others, going under the hammer, with net proceeds going towards philanthropist Walters’ favourite charities.
Highlights include her Harry Winston platinum diamond engagement ring from Merv Adelson and a unique selection of pieces from Joel Arthur Rosenthal (known as JAR). ‘Barbara Walters really had the perfect jewellery box with a vast and eclectic collection that accommodated both her professional and private life,’ says Jean Ghika, Bonhams global head of jewellery. ‘She noticeably had more modest jewels such as her multiple clip earrings to cultured pearl necklaces that fitted into her working wardrobe. She then had exquisite bigger, bolder, colourful extroverted jewels that were worn on the red carpet. Barbara Walters clearly had a love for jewellery and used it to form part of her identity.’
Walters was undiscriminating when it came to her pieces, embracing everything from high down to costume jewellery. ‘She lovingly wore all of her pieces regularly, both privately and in her professional capacity where she used the language of jewellery as a signifier,’ Ghika adds. ‘Her jewels of choice were big, bold, and audacious, which suited her personality. She wasn’t afraid to mix costume pieces with real gemstones – it wasn’t about value but the style and look, reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s ethos. For Barbara Walters, jewellery made her feel dressed.’
Barbara Walters: American Icon is at Bonhams New York on November 6
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.
Hella Jongerius named Honorary Royal Designer for Industry 2023
The Dutch designer received the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry 2023 accolade alongside creatives from different disciplines
By Rosa Bertoli Published
London restaurant and tequila bar Ixchel brings Mexico’s timeless flavour to every sip and bite
On London’s King’s Road, Ixchel offers an unmissable fusion of Mexican art, cuisine and atmosphere
By Sofia de la Cruz Published
Matthew M Williams is leaving Givenchy
American designer Matthew M Williams is set to exit his role as creative director of Givenchy after a three-year tenure
By Jack Moss Published