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: A lovely ruby and diamond demi-parure for your Tuesday morning!

© Sotheby’s

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!

Sources

Sotheby’s

Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden’s Emerald Necklace and Earrings

Wikimedia Commons

In the portrait by François Gérard, Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden is wearing her emerald and diamond necklace and earrings. It’s safe to assume that her necklace and earrings were part of a larger, grander parure, which would have included the bracelets and tiara seen in the Gérard portrait.

The emerald parure was a wedding gift to Stéphanie from Napoleon and his consort Joséphine. Stéphanie’s arranged marriage to Carl von Baden took place in 1806. Therefore the parure was probably made around 1806 by the court jeweler, Nitot et Fils.

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The stones are set in gold and silver. The briolette emeralds dominate the necklace but otherwise the parure is fairly streamlined and simplistic in style, as was typical of the fashion in Napoleon’s court.

It’s not clear how the jewels were passed down through the generations. Stéphanie had three daughters who survived her. Perhaps one of them inherited the parure. Or perhaps the set stayed in Baden with the successive Grand Dukes.

Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Duchy of Baden ceased to exist in 1918. However, sometime after Stéphanie’s death in 1860 and before World War II, the emerald parure must have been broken up because only the earrings and necklace came into the possession of new buyers, Count and Countess Tagliavia.

Later, Countess Tagliavia donated the demi-parure to the Victoria and Albert Museum where the necklace and earrings remain on permanent display. I was able to view the emeralds in person and I can confirm they are stunning.

Sources

Mannheim Baroque Palace

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Queen Victoria’s Emerald Necklace, Earrings and Brooch

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Yesterday we had a peek at Queen Victoria’s Emerald Diadem. Let’s take a look at the rest of the parure, which includes a necklace, earrings and a brooch, all designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria. The parure was created in 1843, two years before the creation of the emerald diadem.

The brooch’s emerald weighs 20 carats and is surrounded by diamonds. The necklace is composed of nine large emeralds and nine smaller emeralds, all surrounded by sparkling diamonds. The drop earrings also contain two fairly large pear-shaped emeralds and two smaller emeralds, also encircled by diamonds. Queen Victoria was thrilled with her gifts.

Today, the entire parure is still intact and owned by the descendants of Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife. It’s on a long-term loan to Kensington Palace, where I was very lucky to have viewed the parure in person.

Sources

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Victoria Revealed Exhibit at Kensington Palace