Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Queen Victoria’s Emerald and Ruby Ring

© Royal Collection Trust

Queen Victoria’s very first ring was this charming gold ring. The small ring is in the style of a flower; the Victorians were fond of flowers. The flower shape is set with five small emeralds and one tiny ruby.

Unlike her engagement ring, Queen Victoria was not buried with this ring. Instead, she left explicit instructions that after her death the ring should be placed in the “Albert Room,” the room Prince Albert had died in at Windsor Castle. Her instructions also said that the ring should not be passed on in the family. Thanks to her wishes, the ring exists today because it wasn’t inherited (and risked a disappearance from a potential sale down the line) and remains a part of the Royal Collection Trust.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great day!

Tiara Thursday (on a Friday): The Midnight Tiara

Wikimedia Commons

The Midnight Tiara was initially created by Charlotte Lynggaard for a 2009 exhibition in Denmark, “Tiara – Queen of Jewels, the Jewel of Queens” hosted at the Amalienborg Royal Palace Museum.

The tiara is composed of dreamy cabochon moonstones. There are around 1,300 brilliant cut diamonds set in rose gold, white gold, and oxidized silver. Crown Princess Mary must have loved the tiara at first sight as she began borrowing it from the jewelry house Ole Lynggaard. The tiara doesn’t belong to her, but it appears to be on a permanent loan for Mary’s exclusive use.

And if you’d like a tiara from Ole Lynggaard, then you’re in luck. There is a small tiara available for sale; it’s reminiscent of Mary’s Midnight Tiara because of its mixed stones and wreath-like style.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Norway’s Amethyst Tiara

Wikimedia Commons

Apologies for the radio silence. I moved to a new home; I moved across an ocean and am still getting settled in.

For now, please enjoy this lovely photograph of the inimitable Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit. She is wearing Norway’s Amethyst Tiara with the matching earrings. The set was a gift from her mother-in-law, Queen Sonja. Queen Sonja received the set decades earlier as a gift from her husband, King Harald. The tiara is convertible. It can also be worn as a necklace.

I’ll be back soon…

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: The Crown of Christian V

Wikimedia Commons

Crowns are a symbol of absolute power. Therefore it makes sense that Denmark, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, has crowns dating all the way back to the 1500s.

The Crown of Christian V dates back to 1671. It was used by Christian V (1646-1699) and worn by all successive kings up until Christian VIII (1786–1848). After Christian VIII, the crown was no longer used for coronations or anointments because in 1849 Denmark adopted a constitutional monarchy. Being crowned or anointed wasn’t appropriate since Danish kings had limited powers and the public probably didn’t like the “anointed by God” explanation (just my guess!).

Portrait of Christian V via Wikimedia Commons.

“Its rounded braces create a closed form inspired by the crown of the French king, Louis XIV, and symbolise the ruler’s absolute power. The crown’s braces meet at the top in a globe, or orb, which is a sign of power and dignity for monarchs. On top of the crown’s globe is a little cross, which in the symbolic language of the time showed that only the church stood above The Crown.”

– The Danish Monarchy

The crown was created by German goldsmith Paul Kurtz in Copenhagen. It’s made of gold and decorated with stones and enamel pieces and holds a red velvet cap. You’ve probably seen the crown’s image in the Danish coat of arms.

The crown is on display at Rosenborg Castle, along with the other crown jewels.

Tiara Thursday: The Noor-ul-Ain Tiara

Wikimedia Commons

Today’s diadem is a tiara without a royal!

One of the largest pink diamonds in the world is the Noor-ul-Ain diamond. It weighs around 60 carats (!!) and came from a mine in India. It was looted from India by a Persian king during the 18th century.

Fast forward a couple of centuries and Mr. Harry Winston enters the picture. He (or at least his jewelers) set the pink diamond in a tiara in 1958. The tiara boasts over 300 sparkling diamonds. As you can see from the picture above, the pink diamond is set in the center and is surrounded by pink, yellow and white diamonds; all set in platinum.

Wikimedia Commons

Farah Diba wore it as her wedding tiara when she married the last Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in 1959.

Via Wikimedia Commons. The tiara in black and white.

The Shah died not long after going into exile. The last Empress of Iran divides her time between the USA and Paris. Her eldest son, the would-be Shah, lives in Maryland, USA with his wife and daughters.

What do we think of this tiara? I think it was a perfect tiara for a young empress of a long ago empire. It’s probably for the best that it’s in a museum today. The tiara seems more museum-piece than headpiece. But that’s probably just me. 

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Hillwood Mansion and Museum

© The Royal Archivist

It’s not one trinket today. It’s many, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for a few minutes of enjoyment. If you love decorative arts, then you will love Hillwood Mansion and Museum in Washington, D.C. It’s filled to the brim with items of royal connection.

Long before Hillwood was a museum, it was the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), the heiress to the Postum Cereal Company. Post had a fascination with royalty and a life-long interest in decorative arts. As you can image, I completely appreciate that about her.

During her time in the Soviet Union (she was married to the US ambassador to the Soviet Union), she picked up many interesting pieces at auction. In the image above, you can see that Post purchased watches, cigarette cases, decorative boxes and other trinkets of Romanov provenance. Post acquired items that belonged to the Romanovs, the Orthodox churches and numerous aristocrats. These items are now housed at her home, Hillwood.

We’ve already discussed the eggs and the nuptial crown. Let’s take a peek at a few other items in her house.

© The Royal Archivist

The dining room was designed to house Dutch paintings of hunting scenes. You can spot them on the wall in the photograph above. But what’s most fascinating to me is the nineteenth-century carpet. It was a gift from Napoleon III to the ill-fated Emperor Maximillian of Mexico. It’s ironic because Maximillian would not have been executed if not for Napoleon III.

© The Royal Archivist

The grand staircase in the entry hall is laden with paintings of Russian royals. You can spot Catherine the Great. Alexandra Feodorovna, the last tsarina, hangs right underneath Catherine. Also, you can barely see him, but Alexander III hangs on the right side of the wall. Who else do you recognize?

© The Royal Archivist

And here is a close-up view of the staircase, with a view of the chandelier. The chandelier probably came from Russia’s Gatchina Palace.

I hope you enjoyed today’s peek into a few items at Hillwood Mansion and Museum. If you can’t visit in person, you can always visit virtually.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great new week!

Tiara Thursday

© Sotheby’s

We have a tiara bonanza. You get three for the price of one! Let’s take a look, shall we!

The first tiara on our list is this lovely turquoise and diamond tiara. It’s designed as five palmettes, each centered around a large cabochon turquoise and set in yellow gold. The tiara is embellished throughout with circular-cut and rose-cut diamonds. The best part about this tiara? It’s convertible and can be worn as several brooches. Made in 1830.

© Sotheby’s

Next up is this lovely diamond tiara. Until this tiara was sold by Sotheby’s, it belonged to an American “philanthropist.” The diamond tiara was probably made in France in the early 20th century. It’s set with old European, old mine and rose-cut diamonds in a foliate design. Lovely. I’d wear it.

© Sotheby’s

Last but not least is this intriguing mystery tiara. Actually the style reminds me a little of Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden’s Ruby Tiara. The tiara is set on a flexible band which can be detached to form a necklace. We don’t know where or when it was made, but we have a clue because it came in a fitted box stamped Collingwood & Co. I will gladly wear it as a necklace!

Which tiara is your favorite?

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Caroline Murat’s Parure

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Today we are traveling back in time to the Napoleonic era.

Caroline Murat (1782-1839), born Maria Annunziata Carolina Bonaparte, was a younger sister of Napoleon I. In 1800 she married one of her brother’s decorated marshals, Joachim Murat. In 1808, Napoleon installed Joachim as King of Naples. Caroline and Joachim had four children together. Sadly their marriage was not a long one as Joachim was executed after the fall of Napoleon, in 1815.

Wikimedia Commons. Caroline Murat and her daughter Letizia in 1807. Painting by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

As wife and consort, Caroline was entitled to be known as Queen of Naples. From time to time, Caroline also acted as Joachim’s regent. As such, she required beautiful jewelry befitting of her royal status. One such jewelry set might have been this gold parure.

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The parure includes a comb, tiara, earrings and necklace. The jewelry is composed of lapis lazuli, chalcedony and gold. The technique used on the jewelry is called pietre dure; this means stones were cut in such a way as to be able to set them and create pictures with the cut stone, almost like a mosaic. This was a popular technique in Florence during the 17th century, but Caroline’s parure was made in 1808.

© The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

It’s not certain that this set belonged to Caroline, but it’s a high probability. The accompanying leather box is stamped with a crowned “C” in gold. As for the location of where this parure was made, there is evidence in the archives of the Opificio (the Grand Ducal Workshop) in Florence and in the archives in Naples that suggests this parure may have been produced in either Florence or Naples.

I’d like to believe the set did indeed belong to Caroline. The jewelry fits the Napoleonic era, Caroline’s domicile and her style.

What happened to Caroline? After her husband’s execution, she took refuge in the Austrian Empire. She married again, but did not have any children with her second husband. Caroline died in 1839 at the age of 57 and is buried in Florence.

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Engagement ring of Princess Mary Adelaide

© Royal Collection Trust

Prince Francis of Teck proposed to Princess Mary Adelaide with a gold ring. The ring is set with five table-cut rectangular Burmese rubies and twelve diamonds. The engagement ring, with its open setting, is very much traditional looking and would not look out of place today. The inside of the ring is inscribed with “Franz, April 6, 1866.” Mary and Francis were the parents of Mary of Teck, the future spouse of George V.

Tiara Thursday: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

© Royal Collection Trust

I am sure you recognize today’s tiara!

The all-diamond diadem belonged to Queen Alexandra. It was given to her as Princess of Wales for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1888. The gift was arranged by the “Ladies of Society,” a large group of British peeresses. Made by Garrard, the tiara’s shape is in the then-popular kokoshnik style, the traditional Russian headdress. Of course the tiara can also be worn as a necklace. Convertible tiaras were all the rage in the 19th century.

Honestly, I could stare at this kokoshnik tiara all day long. It is beyond spectacular!

Today it is owned and worn by Queen Elizabeth II.