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Jewelry is one of the oldest luxury products in the world, with a much longer history than leather handbags, flashy cars, or any other luxury category. Its origins date back to ancient Egypt, where jewelry was the prized possession of worshipped pharaohs and their families. Gold- and gemstone-encrusted pieces were often buried with their owners, probably most prominently so in the tomb of Tutankhamun, the only such treasure discovered undisturbed in modern times. For several millennia, jewelry was the privilege of political and spiritual leaders; the proverbial poor man’s dream of gold remained just a dream – until quite recently, that is. Only in the 20th century did the democratization of jewelry finally take hold, demonstrated by the public auction of jewelry that had belonged to the late Duchess of Windsor, née Wallis Simpson, in 1987. Large parts of that modern-day treasure trove have been immortalized by Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune in her book The Windsor Style.
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