Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The OPAL collection of Princess Ceril Birabongse of Siam

Opal Brooch set with Emeralds and Sapphires, 1910
Prince Bira was born in Bangkok in 1914 and in 1927 he was sent over to England to finnish his education first at Eton and later at Cambridge and never really went back to Thailand (the former Kingdom of Siam) other than to visit. His mother died when he was four years old and his father when he was just fourteen. So he was taken into custody by his cousin King Rama, who moved to England after abdicating when Thailand became a democracy. Bira married six times, twice (the first and the last one) to Ceril Heycock, the only true love of his life, whom he met during his studies at Art school. He was the only Thai Formula One driver in history as well as Olimpic sailor and she was an avid antique jewellery collector!. They lived between England, Switzerland and the South of France and incarnated the same post war optimism and joy that contemporaries Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor. Bira's grandfather was King Mogkut, who inspired the famous musical The King and I and the Hollywood movie Anna and the King. Years later, Ceril wrote her own story in a book published as "The Prince and I". Bira died of a heart attack at Baron's Court underground station in 1985.

Opal bracelet, 1910's. Princess Ceril of Siam

Opal brooch, 1910's. Princess Ceril of Siam

Opal necklace and pendant, 1890's. Princess Ceril of Siam

Sotheby's London will auction on July 11th a small collection of jewels formerly in the collection of Princess Ceril, amongst them there are a number of extraordinary pieces set in blue and green opals.