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21-Carat Sapphire Owned By The Original ‘Kelly Girl’ Shatters Auction Estimate At Christie’s New York

Luxurious jewelry owned by the original “Kelly Girl,” Margaret Adderley Kelly, headlined yesterday’s Important Jewels sale at Christie’s New York, and the featured lot of the day — The Kelly Sapphire — lived up to its top billing with a hammer price of $4.2 million.


The 21.71-carat Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring by Cartier shattered Christie’s pre-sale high estimate of $2 million. The cushion-cut sapphire is flanked on each side by a trapezoid-shaped diamond and is mounted in platinum.


Kelly lived the American Dream. Encouraged by the post-WWII economic boom, Margaret and her husband, William R. Kelly, established Russell Kelly Office Service in Detroit in 1946. By 1957, the pair had transformed the modest "temp" business into the iconic “Kelly Girl” dynasty, a Fortune 500 company that currently employs more than a half million people worldwide.

Beyond her business acumen and dedication to philanthropy, Kelly was passionate about jewels and fine gemstones. Christie’s explained that she collected with the discerning eye of a great connoisseur.

Among the 232 lots up for sale at Christie’s New York were 28 items from Kelly’s collection.


A particularly impressive Kelly piece adorned the cover of Christie’s “Important Jewels” auction catalog. It’s an Art Deco diamond pendant necklace suspending a D-color, internally flawless pear-shaped diamond weighing 16.24 carats.

The piece, which is dated circa 1920, fetched $2.23 million — well above the pre-sale estimated price of $1.6 million to $2 million. The diamond was certified to be of Type IIa clarity, the most chemically pure of all diamonds.


A third noteworthy item from Kelly's collection is this diamond pendant necklace featuring a pear-shaped white diamond weighing 5.06 carats framed in a halo of smaller round diamonds and accented with a fancy purplish-pink diamond weighing 1.68 carats. The hammer price of $317,000 was within the range of the pre-sale estimate of $280,000 to $350,000.