This exquisite cross is perhaps one of the most exceptional historical and significant jeweled treasures we have ever had the opportunity to offer. Its story is equally fascinating, as it was a gift to the United Nations in 1965 from Pope Paul VI.
Intricately carved in 18 carat yellow gold with Colombian emeralds inlaid, the cross boasts over sixty carats in gems, with several magnificent Old European cut white diamonds, including an 8.66 carat, a 7.75 carat, four 5-6 carat stones and numerous 3 to 4 carat stones. The clarity of these resplendent gems ranges from VVS to VS. This amazing work of art is engraved with the Christian Chi Rho symbol, indicating that this cross was almost certainly made by Vatican jewelers in the early 1900's with gemstones from the Vatican's own collection. It also bears the stamp of "Cassio," which refers to Cassio Studios, one of the artisan ateliers at the service of the Vatican.
When Paul VI was invited to be the first Pontiff ever to address the United Nations, he gave this cross with the hopes that the proceeds from its sale at auction would contribute to the UN's efforts to end human suffering. Being born into a wealthy upper class family, Pope Paul VI concerned his papacy with winning back the working class and preached the social message of the Gospel, which he accomplished with this generous gesture on behalf of the Catholic Church.
The auction took two years to prepare and was handled by Parke-Bernet, the nation's largest fine art auction house until it was acquired by Sotheby's in the late 1960's. An 8-page brochure about this cross, and this incredible ring also given by Paul VI
, was printed for this unusual sale which took place in November, 1967. Chicago jeweler Harry Levinson bought both pieces of jewelry for $64,000 and the entire amount was divided between four UN agencies. After that, the two pieces of jewelry were bought and sold several times. At one point they were even owned by renowned daredevil Evel Knievel.
Before he was Pope Paul VI, Giovanni Battista Montini was assigned to the secretary of state in Rome where he became the right-hand man of the future Pope Pius XII who was at that time Cardinal. Their close friendship and mutual support continued for many years and it was either during this time or during the reign of Pope John XXIII that the cross was gifted to Montini. This exquisite treasure is without question the most significant Papal jewelry items ever to come on the market. The piece is not only historically important, it is also hand crafted with the finest artistry. Here is an amazing rare opportunity to own an incredible piece of jewelry with a noteworthy history.
4" wide x 7" length
Pope Pius XII
Pope Paul VI
United Nations, 1965 (Secretary General U Thant)
Parke Bernet Galleries
Harry Levinson, November 1967
Private Collection, 2011