Bonhams is honored to present jewelry from the collection of a Los Angeles grande dame, Onnalee Olson Doheny. Born on October 24, 1919, Mrs. Doheny grew up in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles and attended first the Marlborough School in Hancock Park and later Holmby College. In 1955, she wed William H. Doheny who was to be the love of her life. Their marriage flourished for fifty-eight years and they were blessed with three children, ten grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. Throughout her life, Mrs. Doheny devoted her time to her favored passions of family, art, music, church, and numerous charities.
Mrs. Doheny was recognized for her extensive and generous philanthropic work throughout the Los Angeles community. She was a founding member of The Colleagues, which raises funds for Children's Institute, Inc. Mrs. Doheny was also a board member of the Bel Air Garden Club and honorary board member of the Doheny Eye Institute, past president of the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild, contributor to the Doheny Memorial Library at the University of Southern California, and a life trustee of
Saint John's Hospital. She was a member of the Assistance League of Southern California, helping those less fortunate. Her philanthropic giving extended to cultural interests including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Mrs. Doheny took great pride in creating lush and colorful gardens around her
homes, calling it one of her greatest joys in life. That love of horticulture is mirrored in the theme of much of Mrs. Doheny's jewelry, which includes creations of birds, flowers, leaves and animals by the esteemed houses of Van Cleef & Arpels, Ruser, Webb, and Bulgari.
As a native Angeleno, it is fitting that a number of the pieces in Mrs. Doheny's collection were purchased at the Rodeo Drive salon of legendary jewelry designer William Ruser. Catering to the glamorous stars of The Silver Screen, Ruser was one of the most sought after jewelers in Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s. It was a perfect relationship between jeweler and client - Ruser drawing his inspirations from nature and Mrs. Doheny's appreciation mirrored in his jeweled designs. Ruser, known for his fine craftsmanship, first gained popularity with his freshwater pearl figures mounted with diamonds and gemstones, and then later with more significant pieces. In 1969 Ruser merged with Van Cleef & Arpels, where they collaborated creating more classical designs.
Mrs. Doheny's collection continued to expand into the next decades and includes several special orders by Van Cleef and Arpels. The jewels on the following pages illustrates Mrs. Doheny's love for fine, colorful, elegant and whimsical creations and exhibits a life full of love, family, art, charity and California history.
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