While in London for three weeks in the winter of 1940, during World War II, a South American businessman met a British woman and fell in love. So smitten was he that before returning to his homeland he visited the Cartier boutique on New Bond Street and purchased an engagement ring set with a 20-carat, D-color, modified emerald-cut diamond. He paid £17,500—an especially hefty price during the war years.
Now valued at about $2 million, the ring is among the treasures offered at F.D, Fiona Druckenmiller’s new boutique on New York’s Upper East Side. The couple, still married, sold the ring—along with its original box and Cartier receipt—to Druckenmiller, who opened F.D in October. With its rare stone and compelling provenance, the ring exemplifies the type of unusual and often historic pieces she showcases in her gallery-style store.
In addition to the engagement ring, F.D’s inventory includes vintage and new jewelry pieces by Cartier, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels; Patek Philippe watches; Man Ray photographs; first-edition books and manuscripts; and Art Deco furniture—all in various price ranges. "I look for pieces that sing to me," says Druckenmiller, a petite blonde who is married to business mogul Stanley Druckenmiller. "Sometimes a piece for a few thousand dollars sings to me while the seven-figure sculpture doesn’t. I want people to have options."
Druckenmiller’s experience as a collector of Asian sculpture informed many of her plans for F.D, which is her first retail venture. She wanted the boutique to have a welcoming atmosphere where clients would be comfortable browsing her ever-changing collection. "I want people to enjoy the experience," she says. To that end, she had part of F.D designed to look like a living room, with a couch and a fireplace.
The boutique has iPads and other technologies that clients can use to access information on items in F.D’s inventory. They can learn about an item’s history and previous owners, or research a particular gemstone, its designer, and the auction prices of similar pieces. "I want to educate customers so they can make an informed buying decision and forge an emotional connection to a piece of jewelry or art," says Druckenmiller.
As for the Cartier 20-carat diamond ring, Druckenmiller envisions selling it to a couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, thus adding another romantic chapter to the ring’s story.