The Genteel
April 17, 2021


Mumbai's Bandra-Worli Sea Link lit up to raise breast cancer awareness. Source:
Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Awareness

As part of Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels auction on December 5 in New York City, buyers will be able to get their hands on more than 35 pieces of jewellery from the collections of Estée Lauder and her daughter-in-law, Evelyn H. Lauder, with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), an organisation founded by Evelyn in 1993. 

Evelyn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, and although she rarely spoke publicly about her own health ("My situation doesn't really matter," she told a reporter in 1995), she became a strong voice for women across the world living with the disease. 

The first pink ribbons were handed out by the Susan G. Komen For The Cure foundation in 1991 to New York City participants of a race for breast cancer survivors. But it was through a partnership with Self magazine's former editor-in-chief, Alexandra Penney, that the iconic pink ribbon came to be firmly associated with breast cancer awareness. In 1992, 1.5 million pink ribbons were placed at 2,500 Estée Lauder counters during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, each accompanied by a card describing how to do a proper breast self-exam. This marked the beginning of a widespread campaign that is now active in more than 70 countries. 

By October 1992, Everlyn had launched the Estée Lauder CompaniesBreast Cancer Awareness Campaign. Along with helping women speak openly and honestly about the life-threatening disease, the campaign also aimed to give out vital information regarding breast cancer and increase the amount of funding being spent on critical medical research.

Recognising the early signs of cancer and improved screening programmes for detection lie at the heart of saving lives.

In 1993, Evelyn established the BCRF, a not-for-profit organisation devoted to coordinated clinical research into the cause and cure for breast cancer, as well as prevention and diagnosis. Since its inception, the organisation has grown to become one of the most respected foundations in America and is rated "A+" (as of November 7, 2012) by the American non-profit "charity watchdog," CharityWatch. In almost 20 years, the foundation has raised more than US$385 million to support researchers at medical centres across the world and, according to its website, in 2012-13, the foundation is funding 197 scientists worldwide with a total of US$40 million.

However, despite all the work done by organisation's like BCRF and the Susan G. Komen For The Cure foundation, lack of funding remains the biggest challenge for clinical researchers working towards a cure. To raise additional funds for medical research, Estée Lauder Companies - comprised of 26 brands, including Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford and Aveda - will be auctioning off jewellery from the collections of Estée and Evelyn at Sotheby's ‎Magnificent Jewels auction on December 5. In its press release, Sotheby's noted that the auction is expected to raise an estimated US$13 million for the foundation.

Hoping the colour pink will continue to resonate, a 6.54-carat intense pink diamond ‎ring made by Oscar Heyman & Brothers, having an estimated value of US$5 million, will be on sale from Evelyn's collection. From Estée's estate, Sotheby's will be auctioning a 47.14-carat yellow diamond pendant-necklace worth an estimated US$2 million. The heart-shaped yellow diamond, originally bought in 1951 by the Duchess of Windsor from jeweller Harry Winston in New York and worn as a ring, was re-set in a necklace ‎made by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1978.

Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Awareness Auction
This 47.14-carat yellow diamond pendant necklace
is expected to sell for around US$2 million.

Although it is proving difficult to find a definitive cure for cancer, it remains vitally important that women are educated thoroughly in the symptoms to look out for. Recognising the early signs of cancer and improved screening programs for early detection lie at the heart of saving lives.

In 2010, approximately 1.5 million cases of breast cancer were detected worldwide, and in America, it is thought that one woman dies from breast cancer every 13 minutes. If discovered early, however, roughly 400,000 lives could be saved each year. Prevention, diagnosis and cure all form the important concept of breast cancer awareness, whether through popular pink ribbon campaigns or charitable activities.

Evelyn Lauder died in November last year at the age of 75 due to complications from non-genetic ovarian cancer, but with this auction and the continued efforts of the BCRF, the Estée Lauder brand is continuing Evelyn's legacy. As Estée Lauder used to say at the beginning of her career, to reach as many customers as possible, "Telephone, Telegraph, Tell a woman."



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