Irish Greek Hotelier Athena McAlpine Chooses Her Favourite Jewellery From An Upcoming Auction - The Gloss Magazine

Irish Greek Hotelier Athena McAlpine Chooses Her Favourite Jewellery From An Upcoming Auction

These twelve pieces reveal the diversity of this fabulous fine jewellery auction at Adam’s …

Athena McAlpine is an Irish-born Greek, educated in England, who has lived and worked in Italy for the last 20 years. A lot of her early childhood was spent in Dublin with her grandmother who lived in Kilteragh Pines, Foxrock. She remembers swimming in Sandycove, running around the gardens of Powerscourt, being taken to tea at the Glenview Hotel and learning to ride at Killegar Stables.

When people express surprise that her Greek grandparents chose to settle in Ireland after the war, she says it is not all that unusual; “The weather may be very different, otherwise there are plenty of similarities between the two cultures, after all the Greeks have Homer and the Irish have Joyce!”

Athena now lives in the Basso Salento region of Puglia, Italy. Her home is the 500-year-old Franciscan monastery, Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli which she restored with her late husband Alistair McAlpine to house their collection of textiles, ethnography, tribal and folk art. She now runs Il Convento as a guest house welcoming guests from all over the world. In American Vogue, Hamish Bowles described Il Convento as “a bed and breakfast establishment that redefines the genre,” while Conde Nast Traveller described it as “brimming with character, with museum-worth art lining the walls … Staying here is akin to visiting an old friend and the attention to detail is out of this world.”

Here Athena previews the upcoming Fine Jewellery & Watches Auction at Adam’s, which takes place on Tuesday, September 12:

Lot 28. An early 19th-century Georgian diamond cluster ring

Strong and delicate at the same time, this ring makes a grand statement but it is far from vulgar. It is beautiful from every angle which is typical of a well-made, handcrafted piece of Georgian jewellery. Estimate: €7,000-€8,000.

Lot 24. A late 19th-century emerald and pearl cross pendant on an early gold chain

A decorative and feminine piece of history to hang around your neck. Estimate: €800- €1,200.

Lot 18. A Victorian seed pearl and diamond serpent necklace, c.1850

Supple with great movement, I love the way this necklace coils around your neck. The serpent is not only a potent symbol of temptation, danger and evil but also fertility, rebirth and renewal. Apparently the snake enjoyed a resurgence of popularity during Victorian times, due to Queen Victoria’s enthusiasm for serpent jewellery. Her engagement ring was in the form of a serpent with stones set in its head. This is a very seductive piece. Estimate: €800-€1,200.

Lot 78. A long chain sautoir by Boucheron c.1970

By Boucheron, this is slim, thin and very, very fine. It’s a subtle and discreet ladylike piece of jewellery. Estimate: €8,500-€9,500.

Lot 93. A diamond bracelet by Bulgari, c. 1980

This is a classic piece. It’s simple, elegant, enduring. Once you put this bracelet on, you don’t want to take it off. Estimate: €7,000-€9,000.

Lot 86. A pair of gold Galapagos clip-on earrings, by Fred Paris c.1990

I am feeling nostalgic for the feel of clip-on earrings. They remind me of big hair and padded shoulders although I would probably also enjoy wearing these on holiday or at the beach along with the shell ring. Estimate: €3,200-€3,800.

Lot 173. A diamond cocktail ring

I love the decadence of wearing statement jewellery at the beach. It is very Slim Aarons! I can see this shell- shaped ring on a tanned hand, the diamonds sparkling in the sun. Estimate: €1,200-€1,800.

Lot 37. A fine art deco emerald and diamond bracelet, c.1935

Exquisitely made. Turn it over in your hand and you can see how beautifully engineered it is and how well it moves. That said, I think it would be an excellent piece to repurpose as a headband. Estimate: €25,000-€35,000.

Lot 91. A ruby and diamond dress ring

I love a bling ring. This is an unapologetically dazzling piece of jewellery. It is the deep, red colour of the ruby that makes it so eye catching. Estimate: €5,000-€6,000.

Lot 2. A gem set Trinity ring by Cartier

I remember as a teenager coveting a Cartier Russian wedding ring in three different types of gold; white, red and yellow. Now, as a much older woman, this ring is just as covetable. The three entwined bands are studded with the precious coloured stones, making this timeless design a more grown up and sophisticated version and they feel satisfyingly thick as you roll them between your thumb and ring finger. Estimate: €700-€900.

Lot 143. A pair of rock crystal, sapphire and diamond pendant earrings

These are striking and modern. The clarity of the rock crystal feels very clean and pure. Estimate: €2,400-€2,800.

Lot 167.  A malachite, coral, rock crystal, diamond and onyx sautoir necklace

A dramatic necklace made of powerfully charged stones. Rock crystal for clarity; strength-giving onyx; malachite which was supposed to be Venus’ stone of choice; the warmth of coral and glitter of diamonds. I would wear this over a black polo-neck sweater in winter and a white T-shirt in the summer. Estimate: €12,000-€14,000.

Need to Know: The Fine Jewellery & Watches Auction takes place at Adam’s, 26 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 on Tuesday September 12. Viewing in person is by appointment only from Friday September 8 to Tuesday September 12 (including Saturday and Sunday) from 10am to 5pm. The catalogue is also available online at


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