Last week I introduced you to Gabriella Princess zu Leiningen, a woman who married well (twice) and had the jewelry collection to prove it. Her last husband, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, had been married before and was no stranger to bestowing lovely women with amazing jewels. So, today I want to introduce you to…. his first wife, Princess Salimah Aga Khan.
Sally, as she was informally known, was born in Delhi as Sarah Frances Croker-Pool, the daughter of Lt.-Col. Arthur Edward Croker-Poole and his wife, Jean Margaret Watson. Lt. Croker-Poole was a serving officer in the 6th (Duke of Connaught’s Own) Lancers, an Indian
Cavalry, now Pakistani, regiment. With ties to America (one of her grandmothers was from Philadelphia), Sarah was educated in the UK and later at a finishing school in Paris. In 1958 she was presented to the Queen as a debutante, as one of the last generations to participate in the annual ritual.
A year later, at the tender age of 19, she married Lord James Crichton-Stuart, youngest brother of the 6th Marquess of Bute. But that marriage was short lived, lasting only two years before being annulled. For several years after she made a living as a model and was photographed by the famous photographers of the day, including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Richard Avedon, Hiro and Terence Donovan. She also starred in several TV commercials including one for Pond’s Cold Cream!
She was living a celebrity life in London when she met His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. They married 1969 and so began a jewelry collection to be envied. All of the great names were represented: Cartier, Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Boucheron and Bucellati but many of the pieces were created especially for the Princess, and so are of her own unique style.
The marriage, as we mentioned above, was not to last and there was a bitter court battle over whether she would be allowed to keep (and subsequently auction off) the jewels. Ultimately, she won that battle (with a few pieces being purchased back from her by his Highness) and many of the jewels were auctioned off by Christie’s in 1995, with the proceeds, $27,682,601, being used to establish a charitable foundation, as was the wish of the Princess.
One of the most notable pieces in the auction was the Begum Blue, a blue heart-shaped diamond of 13.78 carats that formed the centerpiece of a necklace of 41 smaller heart-shaped diamonds. It’s a show stopper for sure.
The Princess (she got to keep the title but lost “Highness” with the divorce), who had three children with The Aga Khan, now lives in Geneva, where she’s resided since 1969 and also keeps an apartment in London to be closer to her family.
I wonder if she misses her old life? Or at least misses the jewels? Do you have a favorite of the pieces shown here? If so, tell me about it in the comments!