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.
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.
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.
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!
Today’s trinket consists of a lovely ruby and diamond demi-parure that I wish belonged to me. Sigh.
Just look at those stunning rubies. When the rubies appear pink like that (instead of red) then you know they are of very high quality. The rubies are of Burmese origin.
The set is believed to have been made in the 1820s or later. The necklace is in the shape of numerous romantic scrolls. Each scroll is set with plenty of old-mine, cushion- and rose-cut diamonds and its center is set with a cushion-shaped ruby. But wait, there is more! The scrolls are accented with ruby and diamond florets. The collection includes a ring and earrings, plus a fitted case.
Sotheby’s sold this set in 2008, but it was previously owned by Major Hon. Bernard Clive Pearson, the son of Weetman Dickinson Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray. He married Alicia Mary Dorothea Knatchbull-Hugessen in 1915. She was the daughter of the 1st Baron of Brabourne and Ethel Mary Walker. Quite the aristocratic jewelry set!
I have one more book to share with you for this week. Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan is a treasure trove of royal jewelry secrets. The author was given permission to view Christie’s extensive archives and this book is the result of his painstaking research.
The book is cleverly divided by themes. Each chapter takes on a specific theme and then breaks it down even further by the royal, their jewelry and the history of the jewelry. For example the first chapter is titled Guillotine Diamonds and discusses Madame La Comtesse du Barry and her jewelry. The second chapter focuses on the murdered queens/kings: Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette of France, Draga of Serbia and Ludwig II and their valuables.
There are a number of well-written and well-researched articles tracing the history of royal jewelry. The photographs are plentiful and spectacular! The author also includes plenty of illustrations, portraits and old sales receipts/slips from the auctions. It’s really a gem of a book and I’ve gotten lost for hours within its pages.
It’s hard to choose which royal jewelry book to buy, but this one really is a good choice. I’ve met many new royals (such as Draga) that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Besides being a book about jewelry, I’d say it’s also about world history. After all, the jewelry traveled through the centuries and witnessed plenty of upheaval and revolution.
“Worthwhile, both for the sumptuous jewelry and for the stunning lifestyle photographs.”
Society of Jewelry Historians
For many centuries, collecting precious jewels was the province of kings and queens, emperors, and maharajas. But in the aftermath of the First World War, royal gems passed into the hands of a different kind of elite that included celebrities and a coterie that reveled in a nouveau riche whirl. Changes in fashion and the rise of Art Deco style led them to reset pieces or commission exquisite contemporary designs.
Authors Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes explore this dazzling era via profiles of eleven glamorous women who built up astonishing jewelry collections in the mid-twentieth century. This revised and updated edition includes two new chapters that explore the lives and jewels of Ganna Walska and Hélene Rochas.
The authors reveal the remarkable stories behind the jewels and their collectors. Not only do they bring to life the worlds in which these women moved, but they also describe the gems in detail and chronicle the work of the leading jewelers of the day, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston. The book is illustrated with gorgeous close-up photography of the jewels as well as drawings of the original designs, and includes portraits of the collectors by Beaton, Horst, and other leading photographers of the time.
Another book I use for jewelry research is 20th Century Jewelry & the Icons of Style by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes. This book does not solely focus on royals but that’s okay because royal jewelry tends to end up being sold, which results in women of all social strata purchasing and wearing it. This is why today’s book recommendation is another excellent one!
Each chapter in the book focuses on one particular woman, her jewelry and the history of her jewelry.
The women covered are:
Marjorie Merriweather Post
Lydia, Lady Deterding
The Duchess of Windsor
Countess Mona Bismarck
The Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda
HH The Begum Aga Khan III
As with the other books I featured this week, 20th Century Jewelry has scrumptious photographs, biographies, historic details galore and in-depth jewelry history to please any jewelry lover.
An emerald and diamond necklace, from the collection of Consuelo Montagu, Duchess of Manchester, was sold by Sotheby’s in 2015. The necklace contains 11 cushion-cut emeralds weighing approximately 28 carats. The emeralds are surrounded by old mine and rose-cut diamonds also weighing approximately 28 carats. The necklace was made circa 1860 and at one point in time was probably part of a parure.
The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace was gifted by Mr. Thomas Cullinan (chairman of the Premier Mine in South Africa) to his wife Annie, around 1910. (If you’re wondering about the name, yes, this is the same mine where the British royal family received their Cullinan diamonds from.)
The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace’s design is typical of the Edwardian era: elegant, feminine and timeless. The Cullinan Blue Diamond pendant hangs from the double-ribbon bow. It’s a natural oval-shaped blue diamond, weighing 2.60 carat.
The necklace contains 243 round white diamonds and nine blue diamonds. The diamonds are set in rose-gold and silver. It’s also a detachable gem; it can be worn as a brooch or a necklace.
Today the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace is on permanent display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Speaking of Romanovs, Rebecca Bettarini will be wearing a Chaumet tiara for her wedding to Grand Duke George on October 1, 2021. Rebecca picked a tiara that mimics the shape of a kokoshnik, the traditional headdress for Russian women. It will look beautiful on her.
Today’s tiara is rare and of an unusual design. The headpiece is made of blackened steel and bordered with circular-cut diamonds. The two scalloped edges and the bottom row’s diamond-encrusted palmettes manage to give the tiara a romantic feel, despite the black steel.
Between 1912 and 1915, Parisian workshop Henri Picq made about five of these steel tiaras for Cartier. This particular tiara was bought in 1912 as a wedding gift for the seller’s grandmother. It has managed to stay with the same family until the seller sold it via Sotheby’s in 2015. It fetched the hefty sum of CHF 538,000.
I don’t have any information on the family, but the bride must have been quite the avant-garde fashionista to have embraced and kept such a unique tiara.