History written in gem stones

A heart-shaped yellow diamond that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor is among a trove of jewels from the collections of Estée and Evelyn Lauder that will be auctioned to benefit breast-cancer research next month.

Sotheby's said the 35 pieces were estimated to bring $13 million at the Dec. 5 sale.

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The proceeds will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993. She also was the co-creator of the Pink Ribbon, the now familiar breast cancer awareness symbol.

Estée Lauder, who died in 2004, was the founder of the Estée Lauder fragrance and skincare products company. Her daughter-in-law Evelyn Lauder died last year.

The 47.14-carat heart-shaped Fancy Intense yellow diamond was worn by the Duchess of Windsor as a ring and refashioned as a diamond pendant necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels for Estée Lauder in 1978. It is estimated to sell for $1.5 million to $2 million.

The jewel has an intriguing history.

When the Duchess of Windsor's collection was auctioned by Sotheby's in Geneva in 1987, missing from the sale was the diamond that the duchess had bought from Harry Winston in 1951. As Sotheby's prepared for the upcoming auction, it discovered that Estée Lauder, a close friend of the duchess and duke, had bought it in the mid-1970s through the duchess' lawyer.

The duchess, who died in 1986, sold a number of her jewels during her lifetime.

Her son, Leonard Lauder, said his mother always said she bought the diamond from the duchess, the auction house said.

Other top lots in the sale include a rare Fancy Intense Pink diamond ring. Weighing 6.54 carats, it has a pre-sale estimate of $4 million to $5 million.

Highlights of the collection will be exhibited in Geneva, London and Los Angeles before going on display for four days on Dec. 1 in New York.

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