Each gem is a chapter in a love story spanning more than half a century.
The stunning collection of jewels belonging to Barbara Taylor Bradford have been given to the author during her marriage to her film and television producer husband Robert Bradford.
As the couple prepare to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve, a new page has turned on the fortunes of the gems after they sold for almost £1m at auction.
The finery, which went under the hammer at Bonhams in London yesterday, was the largest collection of jewellery ever to be auctioned by a living author.
“The jewellery has been part of my life for such a long time but I’m glad it will begin a new chapter, with a new owner, in a new home,” said Mrs Taylor Bradford, who was born in Leeds.
“Beautiful things need to be displayed and admired and I’m so pleased that the jewellery will live again and be cherished and enjoyed. That’s how it should be.
“I am delighted with the result of the sale and wish those who were lucky enough to have bought a piece of my jewellery as much joy from it as I have had.”
Some 40 jewels from the author’s collection made a total of £980,600 when they were sold as part of the Fine Jewellery Sale at the New Bond Street auctioneers.
Each piece reveals a little of the couple’s own love story, which began with a blind date. One year later they were married.
Mrs Taylor Bradford, who met her future husband in London in 1962, has said that “it was love at first sight” and she knew by the end of the evening that they would be together.
The top lot in the collection was a diamond single-stone ring by David Morris which was secured by a bidder on the telephone for £446,500 after fending off strong interest.
The jewel was given as birthday present to Mrs Taylor Bradford by Robert, who told his wife: “When you wear this, you don’t need any other jewellery.”
Interest came from all angles as the auctioneer took bids from multiple internet bidders, telephones and people in the room.
A spectacular Harry Winston sapphire and diamond ring realised £182,500 after two determined telephone bidders escalated the price.
The ring was a gift from Mr Bradford in 1994 to commemorate his film of Everything To Gain.
Mrs Taylor Bradford has said: “I love all the movies Bob has made of my books, and I especially enjoy seeing what is known as the ‘rough cut’.
“I remember watching Everything to Gain, and thinking what a splendid production it was. I was thrilled to see my characters come alive on the screen. Later that evening, over dinner, Bob gave me the famous blue-leather box from Harry Winston. Inside was a gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring.
“‘In lieu of applause for being up there on the screen,” Bob said.
“‘You produced the movie and should have the applause. And the ring!’ I answered. He just laughed.”
A 19th century sapphire and diamond brooch fetched £116,500, almost doubling the pre-sale estimate.
Other lots included a pair of David Morris diamond ear clips which made £92,500 against pre-sale estimates of £55,000-£65,000 and a pair of pearl and diamond pendant earrings by Harry Winston which achieved £80,500.
Matthew Girling, of Bonhams, said: “Bonhams is honoured to have been chosen by Barbara Taylor Bradford to auction her very personal collection of jewellery and we are delighted with the success of the sale.”
Mrs Taylor Bradford, a one- time typist on the Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds who has gone on to write 29 best-selling novels, has dedicated each book to her husband since her famous debut A Woman of Substance.
She has said that her husband says he does not need an occasion to give her a piece of jewellery – only a reason.
Gifting jewellery holds a poignant resonance for Robert Bradford. The last time he saw his mother he was aged just eight as she put him on a train bound out of Berlin in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. Her jewels were stitched into the inside of his clothing.