Anne Eisenhower always knew she wanted a life filled with beauty. As the granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower, she would ride her tricycle on the White House grounds. But it was the glamour of New York City that dazzled her, where in the 1980s and 1990s she became a celebrated designer, philanthropist and arts patron.
“Anne had flair, a creative orientation that flourished in her work as a designer and an artist,” her sister Susan explains. “She was drawn not to Washington, D.C., like the rest of us; she was a New Yorker through and through.”
It turns out she had quite a flair for jewelry as well. After Eisenhower’s unexpected passing in 2022 at the age of 73, Christie’s recently sold off her exceptional collection of baubles, taking in a staggering $11.5 million. Bijoux lovers from across the globe took part online, on the phone and in the auction room, where 31 pieces from this spectacular assortment went up for sale.
This was a collector’s collection to be sure. Eisenhower had a knack for knowing what to buy and when. The most coveted gems were of course featured, including diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, along with important historic and contemporary pieces. “Anne had the wherewithal to acquire incredible pieces of jewelry that once you’ve seen them, you never forget them,” notes Christie’s Jewelry Senior Advisor Lisa Hubbard, who had a longtime friendship with Eisenhower.
The star of the show was a jaw-dropping diamond and ruby Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet known as the Jarretière. Actress Marlene Dietrich bought the bauble in 1937 and wore it in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950 film Stage Fright, then a year later at the Academy Awards. Eisenhower purchased the bracelet directly from Dietrich’s estate in 1992 then asked Van Cleef & Arpels to craft a complementing necklace and pair of earrings.
In spirited bidding from enchanted buyers around the world, the Jarretière bracelet sold for $4.5 million, capturing the high end of its early estimate. The earrings far exceeded estimates, bringing in $176,400, while the matching ruby Cascade necklace went for $1.1 million. In the end, this stellar jewelry suite represented not only exceptional value but also exquisite refinement.
Of course, good taste is what Eisenhower was known for. In the late 1970s, after working alongside design legend Dorothy Draper, she started her own interiors firm. In 1990, she was named one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 designers thanks to her traditional, uncluttered residential spaces that had a lived-in charm. “She was the sort of person who, when she walked into a room you noticed her — not because she was over-the-top, but because she sailed in and was simply an elegant presence,” Hubbard recalls.
The jewelry she collected carried that same élan. Her beloved Van Cleef & Arpels sapphire and diamond Waterfall necklace stunned with its geometric brilliance, selling for $819,000. Meanwhile, her Tiffany & Co. art deco diamond and multi-gem Moonlight Rose bracelet, unique for its scroll-like design, brought in $604,800 — a showstopper for sure.
Although Eisenhower is celebrated for her exceptional style, she is equally known for her quiet generosity supporting causes like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As her granddaughter Camila Mendoza explains, “While these jewels are indeed breathtaking, my grandmother is the real gem we are celebrating.”