30 April 2014

Jewel History: Lady Salisbury and the Tiara (1888)

Queen Alexandra wearing the tiara [1]
"Lady Salisbury and the Tiara"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 29 April 1888)

There have been endless squabbles and "tracasseries" [2] about the tiara which was presented to the Princess of Wales by her "lady friends" [3]. The amount subscribed was very much smaller than had been anticipated, for the sort of people who consider it expedient to take every opportunity of toadying to royal personages thought, as might have been expected, that  it would "pay" better to present a separate personal gift, rather than to take part in a joint offering of which only the leaders would get the credit.

The final dispute between Lady Salisbury [4] and "Lady A." [5] was very funny; but, although the Prime Minister's spouse tries hard to be "très grande dame," she has hitherto failed dismally in this attempt, and, instead of playing the part of Lady Palmerston [6], her social business has positively damaged her husband, for, with a vast deal of fuss and bustle, she only makes herself ridiculous by her arrogant pretensions.

29 April 2014

Royal Jewel Rewind: The Cambridge Wedding (2011)

Welcome to a brand-new feature here at The Court Jeweller: the Royal Jewel Rewind, in which we take a look back at major bejeweled royal events from the past. Today, we're helping the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrate their third wedding anniversary with a look back at the baubles and bling that showed up at Westminster Abbey on their wedding day.

Kate Middleton arrived at the Abbey wearing two pieces of significant jewelry: a tiara and a pair of earrings. The tiara was the Cartier Halo Tiara, which royal watchers had until that morning called the "scroll" tiara. The sparkler was a nod to the Queen Mum, after whom Kate has carefully patterned her royal role in the years since.

28 April 2014

Queen Margrethe's Baden Palmette Tiara

As we wind down our salute to our Magpie of the Month, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, let's take a look at one of the smaller sparklers in her collection. The Baden Palmette Tiara, an heirloom with a long history, is a petite diadem that still packs a big, sparkly punch.

The tiara is originally a German piece, made in the mid-nineteenth century by Koch. It was a wedding gift from King Wilhelm of Prussia (who later became the first German kaiser) to his daughter, Princess Louise, who married Grand Duke Frederick of Baden in 1856.

27 April 2014

Jewel Detective: Grace of Monaco

Can you identify the jewels worn here by Princess Grace of Monaco at a gala at the Palace of Versailles in 1973?

26 April 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara

If you’re on the lookout today for jewels that belonged to members of the imperial family of France, you’d best look not only in the Louvre but also in the family foundation of the Bernadottes, the royal family of Sweden. Like many of their grandest pieces, the gorgeous sapphires in their collection started out in nineteenth-century France.

The parure’s first owner was Princess Augusta of Bavaria, the wife of Eugène de Beauharnais, the only son of Empress Joséphine. Augusta received the sapphires as a wedding present in 1806, and many think that the gifter was Eugène’s adopted father, Napoleon Bonaparte. If that’s the case, the set was almost certainly made by Marie-Étienne Nitot, Napoleon’s court jeweler. (The cameo parure, also owned by the Bernadottes, is also attributed to Nitot.) Augusta’s father, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, bestowed the Leuchtenberg ducal title on his new son-in-law, hence the tiara’s name.

25 April 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: April 18-24

April 18-24, 2014
Here are some of the sparkliest royal jewel appearances and stories of the week!

10. As their royal tour of Australia drew to an end, the Duchess of Cambridge wore a familiar bit o' bling to a reception in Canberra: a diamond bracelet that she often chooses for more formal events. The piece includes a floral motif in its design, and it's matched with a pair of coordinating earrings. (More from Ayvee here.)

9. Faberge's imperial eggs have been in the news a great deal recently. To mark the Easter holiday, the bloggers at Luxarazzi treated us to a glimpse of the egg owned by Liechtenstein: the Apple Blossom Egg, made in St. Petersburg in 1901.

24 April 2014

On the Block: Royal Jewels at Sotheby's

Next month, a collection of jewelry will be going up for sale at Sotheby's in Geneva that includes a number of items owned by royals. Here's a rundown of some of the lots that may be of interest to all of you -- including a couple of mysterious items with anonymous royal connections.
  • The Rosenborg Kokoshnik Tiara (Lot 450). After failing to sell at auction at Bukowski's, the garnet, diamond, and pearl kokoshnik tiara that belongs to a junior noble branch of the Danish royal family is up for sale once more. The price of the tiara, which was made in the 1930s by Dragsted, has been significantly reduced from its last offering. The most recent wearer of the tiara was Countess Ruth of Rosenborg, who died in 2010. The family is descended from Prince Axel of Denmark (a grandson of King Christian IX) and Princess Margaretha of Sweden (the sister of Crown Princess Martha of Norway and Queen Astrid of Belgium).
  • The Pearls of the House of Orange (Lot 384). This necklace, made of pearls with a sapphire and diamond clasp, is being sold by Prince Eduard of Anhalt. The pearls belong to descendants of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and his wife, Princess Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. The clasp of the necklace was reportedly added during the Napoleonic era.
  • The Staatholder Pearl (Lot 385). Also from the Anhalt collection, the natural pearl pendant on this necklace is another legacy from the House of Orange. It was worn by Henriette Catherine of Nassau at her wedding to Prince John George II of Anhalt-Dessau in 1659, and has been worn by family brides up to the 1960s. (Additionally, the Anhalts are also offering a diamond and Ceylon sapphire ring, dated to the 19th century, in the sale.)
  • The Dowager German Empress's Pendant (Lot 382). This pearl and diamond pendant, which dates to the late 19th century, was part of the jewelry collection of Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, the second wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
Along with these pieces, all of which advertise their royal provenance as a part of the auction notes, the sale also contains these pieces, being auctioned anonymously by royals:
  • A Diamond and Pearl Floral Brooch (Lot 326). Offered by "a member of a royal family." The late 19th century brooch is described as "a floral spray brooch accented with natural pearls and pear-, cushion-shaped, circular-, single-cut and rose diamonds."
  • A Synthetic Sapphire and Diamond Demi-Parure (Lot 325). Also offered by "a member of a royal family." (Possibly the same royal, given the consecutive lot numbers?) The demi-parure consists of two pieces, a necklace and a bracelet, "composed of alternating pinched collet-set circular-cut synthetic sapphires and diamonds." Additionally, the necklace has five detachable pendant drops.
  • A Yellow Diamond Demi-Parure (Lot 488). Part of "a royal private collection." Made by Harry Winston, this demi-parure consists of four pieces: a necklace, earrings, a bracelet, and a ring. (Which, if you ask me, makes it a complete parure, but I'm not in charge of the lot notes at Sotheby's.) Most of the diamonds are described as having a "yellow tint," but the ring is set with a 16-carat fancy yellow pear-shaped diamond.
  • An Emerald and Diamond Parure (Lot 489). Also part of "a royal private collection" (surely the same one as the previous lot). The set includes a necklace, a ring, and earrings. The emerald set in the diamond necklace is a 53-carat Colombian emerald; the emeralds set in the ring and earrings are heart-shaped.
So, if you had a spare bundle of cash laying about, which one of these lots would you bid on? Are you surprised that some of these pieces are being auctioned? And -- most importantly -- which royals do you think are selling their bling anonymously???

23 April 2014

Jewel History: Carlos Sold Crown Jewels (1908)

Carlos I of Portugal [1]
"Carlos Sold Crown Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 25 Apr 1908)

King Manuel [2] has learned that $750,000 worth of the crown jewels [3], which are the property of the state, were sold by his father, King Carlos [4], in order to defray his expenses. The administrator of the royal house declared that the government had consented to the sale, and the governor of the Bank of Portugal declared it had been made in order to avoid a scandal.

King Manuel then announced his intention of refunding the value of the missing jewels.

1. Cropped version of a photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. King Manuel II of Portugal (1889-1932) was the last king of Portugal, reigning for only two years (1908-1910) between the assassination of his father and older brother (during which he was also injured) and the October 1910 revolution.
3. The Portuguese government still has a collection of crown jewels, although a theft in 2002 depleted the collection and led to a much stricter display policy. You can read more about the items in the collection here at Wikipedia.
4. King Carlos I of Portugal (1863-1908) reigned in Portugal from 1889 until his assassination in Lisbon in 1908. He was the son of Luis I of Portugal and Maria Pia of Savoy; he married a French princess, Amelie of Orleans, in 1886.

22 April 2014

Queen Margrethe's Turquoises

As a a reigning queen, Margrethe II of Denmark has access to a wide array of jewels, ranging from pieces that are a part of the nation's crown jewel collections to items of personal jewelry. Today, we're going to have a look at a little mini collection that belongs to the queen: her turquoise jewelry.

Margrethe has two sets of turquoise and diamond jewelry: an older suite and a more modern one. The older jewels were apparently inherited by Margrethe from her mother. The set includes a pair of diamond earrings with turquoise pendant stones, a large brooch (really, almost a small stomacher) that features three large turquoises set in diamonds, a smaller brooch, and a small bandeau tiara. The queen has also worn parts of the large brooch as a pendant on a diamond necklace (seen above at one of the events celebrating the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria in 2010).

21 April 2014

Birthday Jewels: Queen Elizabeth II

It's that time of year again -- one of the two birthdays of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (and various other places, too!). Today is the real McCoy: her genuine birthday, not the "official one" celebrated with a military parade when the weather's nicer. To mark 88 years of royal excellence, let's enjoy a rundown of the jewelry she's worn at state banquets over the past decade. Which of her pieces of jewelry is your favorite?

20 April 2014

Jewel Detective: Margaret of the United Kingdom

Can you identify the jewels worn in this photograph by a young Princess Margaret?

19 April 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Anne's Festoon Tiara

The British royal family has an incredible wide array of jewels. Beyond the pieces owned and worn by the reigning queen, many of the other Windsor women have impressive jewelry collections of their own. Today's tiara is one of several owned by the Princess Royal: her diamond festoon tiara.

As the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, Anne is a hardworking and significant member of the royal family. And as such, she needs quite a few tiaras in her arsenal for the state events she attends. While Anne’s two other major tiaras — the diamond meander tiara of Alice of Battenberg and the aquamarine pineflower tiara that belonged to the Queen Mum — were legacies from her grandmothers, the diamond festoon is a newer piece. It was given to Anne in 1973, the same year that she married her first husband, Mark Phillips. But it wasn’t a wedding present; it was given to the princess by the World-Wide Shipping Group, a Hong Kong firm, after she christened one of their ships.

18 April 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: April 11-17, 2014

Royal tour of New Zealand and Australia aside, it's been a bit of a quiet week for royal jewels. Enjoy this selection of the sparkling stories we did get to see!

Prince Ernst August of Hanover, son of the current head of the house, presented the Royal Crown of Hanover at Schloss Marienburg on Friday. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the former personal union between the crowns of Hanover and Britain, a milestone that will be observed with various celebrations this summer.

17 April 2014

The Order of the British Empire

Star of the Order of the British Empire [1]
Yesterday at Windsor Castle, intrepid detective Jessica Fletcher actress Angela Lansbury was invested by the Queen as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Every year, various Brits are made members of the order, entitling them to append initials like MBE, OBE, or KBE to their names. But what exactly is this order of chivalry, and who is entitled to receive it?

The order -- the full name of which is The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [2] -- was founded by King George V in 1917 as a way to honor British citizens who had made important contributions during the First World War. Notably, it was the first order of British chivalry to include female members. The motto of the order is "For God and the Empire."

Today, there are separate civil and military divisions of the order, but the qualifications for belonging to either remain the same: members of the order must have made a significant contribution to the nation at the local, regional, or national level. The five ranks of the order -- Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), and Member (MBE) -- are generally awarded based on the scope of the member's contribution. For example, local achievements are often honored with MBEs, while a national contribution will be honored with a CBE or even a knighthood [3].

The Order of the British Empire is the most junior of the orders of British chivalry, following just after the Royal Victorian Order in precedence. Any Briton, man or woman, who has made significant contributions to the nation can be nominated to receive it. (Some citizens of Commonwealth realms are also entitled to become members of the order.) Occasionally, it's also awarded to foreign nationals to honor their contributions to Britain; this is usually done on an honorary basis, as members of the order are required to swear allegiance to the Queen. For example, Bill Gates is an honorary knight commander of the order, but because he's American, he's not called "Sir Bill" -- though he can use the initials KBE after his name if he wants.

16 April 2014

Queen Margrethe's Naasut Demi-Parure

Happy 74th birthday to our Magpie of the Month (and one of the most fascinating monarchs in the world), Queen Margrethe II of Denmark! Three cheers to you, Daisy! (And to your royal birthday buddies, Grand Duke Henri and Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg and Princess Eleonore of Belgium, too!)

Today we're focusing on one of the newer additions to Margrethe's royal jewel box: the set of jewelry given to her by the people of Greenland to mark her Ruby Jubilee. The Naasut tiara and earrings, which make up a tidy little demi-parure, are modern pieces of jewelry that are especially suited to this innovative queen.

Made of bright yellow gold, the tiara is designed with several modern floral motifs. The gold that the tiara is composed of actually comes from melted-down coins, all of which were originally made with gold mined from Greenland. Appropriately, the demi-parure was Greenland’s gift to the queen on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of her reign. It was designed by Nicolai Appel, a Greenlandic goldsmith, and was presented to Margrethe in June of 2012 by a member of Greenland’s parliament. The tiara also has a coordinating pair of earrings.

While gold is the overwhelming element in the tiara’s construction, there are also diamonds and rubies scattered amid the flowers that make up the piece. The name of the tiara, Naasut, translates roughly to “flowers from Greenland.” It’s never been officially said, but I think I can detect a small link to one of Margrethe’s other tiaras in the design of this diadem: there appear to be small golden poppies in the design that look an awful lot like the poppies in the tiara designed for Margrethe by Arje Griegst.

The tiara made its first official appearance at the New Year’s Levee in Denmark in 2013. Margrethe was reportedly delighted by this new set of jewelry, and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see her sporting this one on a fairly regular basis [3].

1. Queen Margrethe II at the 2013 New Year's Levee by Danny Martindale for Getty Images.
2. Queen Margrethe II at the 2013 New Year's Levee by Danny Martindale for Getty Images.
3. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in October 2013.

15 April 2014

Jewel History: Brilliant Gems to Be Sold (1907)

Mrs. Lewis-Hill, ca. 1890 [1]
"Brilliant Gems to Be Sold"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 14 Apr 1907)

There were placed on view yesterday at Christie's the dazzling jewels which were the personal ornaments of the late Mrs. Lewis-Hill, better known by her first married name, Mrs. Sam Lewis [2]. Such a display of precious stones has not often been seen in a London auction room nor anywhere else. Experts say the sale of these rare gems, which will take place on Monday, will rank with the Dudley Gordon Lennox [3] and Anglesey [4] dispersals.

Viewed as a collection, as they appear in the show cases, brilliantly lighted by electric lamps, it seems almost impossible that they should have been the property of one woman, and that woman not of very high rank in life. Great bunches of pearls, wonderful aggregations of diamonds, superb examples of rubies, emeralds, and sapphires greet the eye, and constitute a picture of extreme loveliness. The three most important items of the collection are a pearl and brilliant necklace, a brilliant tiara, and a great rope of pearls.

The necklace is composed of fifteen huge drops, each comprising a bouton pearl, a large brilliant, and a very large and wonderful pear-shaped pearl. The fifteen drops depend from a band of lovely diamonds.

The tiara is a great work of art. Sprays of diamond foliage bank the sides. Twenty-six collet brilliants fill up the center, surmounted by a great pear-shaped diamond of dazzling luster.

The rope of pearls is made up of 229 gems, every one a thing of beauty, all artistically graduated on a single rope.

The collection, by the way, runs largely to pearls, which are seen in rings, pins, brooches, and almost every other form of jewelry. Every woman who saw the display yesterday yearned to possess the whole of it [5].

1. Henry Jones Thaddeus's Portrait of Ada Lewis (1890); source here.
2. Ada Hannah Davis (1844-1906) was the wife of London financier Samuel "Sam" Lewis (1837-1901), who died and left her a fortune. She used some of the inheritance to establish scholarships in her name at the Royal Academy of Music. (She also gifted them a Stradivarius violin.) Ada was a musician in her own right, but the better-known musical talent in her family was her sister, the composer Hope Temple (who was herself married to the French composer and conductor André Messager). In 1904, Ada remarried; her second husband was William James Montague Hill. She died in London in October 1906.
3. I believe the sale referenced here is that of the jewels of the late Lady Henry Gordon-Lennox (née Amelia Brooman) at Christie's in 1903; more information available here.
4. In 1904, the jewelry collection of the flamboyant 5th Marquess of Anglesey was auctioned to pay off his extensive debts. Read more here at the Guardian.
5. The estate, including the jewelry, ended up bringing a total of more than £130,000 at auction; see here.

14 April 2014

The Cullinan Diamond

April may be the cruellest month, but it's also the month in which we celebrate the queen of the world of gems: the diamond. April babies wear it as their birthstone, which is handy, because this is the month where the sun finally starts to peek out and allow diamonds to sparkle. Reviewing the diamonds in royal collections would be totally impossible, so instead, I've decided to focus on the various stones cut from one of the grandest diamonds of them all: The Cullinan Diamond.

The uncut Cullinan [3]
The diamond was discovered in the Premier diamond mine in Pretoria, South Africa. In 1905, the superintendent of the mine spotted the enormous stone by chance while on his rounds. Caroline de Guitaut, who wrote the book accompanying the 2012 diamond exhibition at Buckingham Palace, told the BBC, "So incredible was its discovery that the moment it was found at the Premier Mine it was thrown out of the window of the mine manager's office because it was thought to be a worthless crystal" [2]. The uncut Cullinan diamond (named after the man who owned the mine) weighed more than a pound and measured at more than 3000 carats, far surpassing the size of any other diamond that had ever been found.

South Africa was still a part of the British empire when the diamond was discovered, and the colonial government purchased it. They wanted to bestow the enormous stone on the reigning king, Edward VII. At first, he didn't want to accept -- there had also been some disagreement about whether to offer it to him in the first place -- but after a bit of convincing (by a young Winston Churchill, of all people), he finally agreed to take it. It seems sort of ridiculous to imagine that you'd have to twist anyone's arm to get them to accept such an amazing gemstone, but the elaborate gems that we love to look at are also major responsibilities -- and sometimes potential political liabilities, too.

13 April 2014

Jewel Detective: Beatrice of the United Kingdom

Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom as Princess Henry of Battenberg, 1908 [1]
She was the daughter and the mother of queens; can you identify the jewels worn here by Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert?

1. Cropped version of Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida's Princess Beatrice of Battenberg (1908); source here. Also, see the National Portrait Gallery website for more information on the portrait.

12 April 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Maud's Pearl Tiara

Princess Märtha Louise wears the tiara in June 2013 [1]
One of the most important sparklers in Norway, Queen Maud's pearl tiara, graced the heads of two generations of Norwegian royal ladies. It would inevitably have crowned a few more, too -- if only it hadn't been involved in a rather notorious jewelry theft!

Queen Maud [2]
The original pearl and diamond tiara that belonged to Queen Maud (pictured at left) was given to her by her parents, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, when she married Prince Carl of Denmark in 1896. It is often reported that the tiara was commissioned from Garrard, then the official royal jeweler in Britain. The piece was a lovely wedding gift for a princess joining another royal clan, but it was never intended to become a central part of another royal family’s jewel collection. Maud unexpectedly became queen of newly-independent Norway in 1905 when her husband was chosen as the country’s new monarch. She wore the tiara, which has a large detachable central element, until her death in 1938.

Maud’s son, King Olav V, inherited the tiara from his mother, but it was a long time before he was reunited with the tiara (and the rest of his mother’s jewels). Maud had taken her jewelry with her to Britain for a visit in the autumn of 1938, and she unexpectedly died while she was abroad. The late queen’s jewels were kept safe in Windsor Castle for another fifteen years, for the duration of World War II and beyond. The Norwegians were finally able to reclaim the tiara in 1953, when they visited Britain for the coronation of Olav’s cousin, Queen Elizabeth II [3].

Olav’s son, King Harald V, is the current owner of the tiara; he received it when Maud’s jewels were divided following his wedding to Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. Sonja wore both the large and small versions of Maud’s original tiara until 1995, when tiara tragedy struck. The piece was sent back to Garrard in London to be cleaned, and while it was there, it was stolen.

11 April 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: April 4-10

April 4-10, 2014

Jewels from a state visit, a baptism, and a royal tour top this week's roundup. Enjoy!

10. While in Wellington during their royal tour of New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveiled a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. In the picture, she wears the same diamond fern leaf brooch that has been lent to Kate for the tour. While Kate didn't wear the brooch again for the unveiling, she did wear a custom Jenny Packham gown that featured fern leaf embroidery on one shoulder.

10 April 2014

Queen Margrethe's Daisy Brooch

Queen Margrethe II wearing the diamond daisy brooch [1]
Queen Margrethe is one of the royals who attaches great sentimental meaning to the pieces of jewelry that she wears. She knows the history of her collection and, as the De Kongelige Juveler documentary demonstrates, she can easily recall the stories behind each item in it. Today's piece, her daisy brooch, is one of the most sentimental of her jewels, with connections to her mother and her maternal grandmother.

In 1935, Princess Ingrid of Sweden, the only daughter of the Swedish crown prince, became engaged to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. Ingrid's mother, Margareta, had died fifteen years earlier, when Ingrid was only ten. Margareta had a stellar royal background of her own; born Princess Margaret of Connaught, she was descended from the British and Prussian royal families. She also had major jewelry -- we discussed several of her pieces here on the blog in January.

The daisy brooch [2]
As you might expect, Ingrid remembered her mother in multiple ways at her wedding, which took place in Stockholm. She wore her mother's wedding veil, a piece of delicate Irish lace that has also been worn by family brides in the generations since. She also had a rather large diamond brooch pinned to her wedding gown. The piece, which was made in the shape of a daisy, was one of Ingrid's wedding gifts. Her father, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, had the brooch made for his daughter using diamonds that had belonged to her late mother. After her wedding, she also wore the brooch on her arrival in her new country, Denmark.

09 April 2014

The Cambridges Down Under: Remembrance in Blenheim

After a break to get over their jetlag, the Cambridges are back in action in New Zealand. Let's catch up on Kate's jewelry choices, shall we?

Prince George, future king of New Zealand, stole the show once again at a playdate held at Government House on April 9. His mother wore pearl drop earrings by Annoushka, her Cartier watch, and a necklace by Mappin & Webb.

George also demonstrated that he is as in awe of Kate's hair as the rest of the world is.

Jewels for an Historic State Visit

Household Cavalry at Windsor Castle during a 2012 state visit from Kuwait [1]
This week, an Irish president travels to Britain for an official state visit between the two countries for the very first time. Given the fraught and tragic historical relationship between the two nations, it's a special and important occasion. You might have imagined that Queen Elizabeth II would bring out appropriately gorgeous jewels for the visit from President Higgins, and you'd be right!

To welcome President Higgins to Windsor Castle, HM debuted a brand new brooch! It's a lovely and delicate piece that's made in part of Waterford crystal. She received the piece as one of the gifts marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation last year. Here's how the Irish Times describes it: "She is wearing an orchid brooch on her coat, a gift from Mappin Webb and Waterford for the 60th anniversary of coronation. The flowers are hand cut Waterford crystal, the brooch contains 66 diamonds and rose gold stamens." [2]

08 April 2014

Jewel Detective: Charlotte of Luxembourg

Can you identify the jewels worn here by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg?

1. Cropped version of a picture postcard in the public domain due to age; source here.

07 April 2014

Jewel History: Romance of Jewels of Siam's Queen (1912)

Saovabha Phongsri, Queen of Thailand [1]
"Romance of Jewels of Siam's Queen"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 7 Apr 1912)

When Jules Paul de Boseck reaches Singapore, one of the most remarkable trials of the age will begin in the local Criminal Court. Boseck, after a series of adjournments of his case here [2], has finally been remanded for extradition. He is charged with receiving in the Straits Settlements jewels belonging to the Queen of Siam [3], which were alleged to have been stolen in the course of transit between London and Siam. In the last hearing at Bow Street Police Court before Curtis Bennett, Messrs. Bodkin and Roouse appeared for the prosecution and Chief Inspector Bower of Scotland Yard testified.

Saovabha Phongsri [4]
Chief Inspector Bower said that on August 14, 1909, the police received a letter from the Police Commissioner at Bangkok, and the following month he got a box from the same official, which he had kept ever since.

In court on February 9, the prisoner, in the witness's presence, read a deposition made in Singapore, in a paragraph of which the deponent said that Boseck deposited two large pearls, one of which he (the deponent) identified as the centre pearl of the pearl rope and the other as one of the larger pearls belonging to the same rope.

Those two pearls were deposited at the Arcade, Singapore, by Paul de Boseck as security for the advance of $600. Referring to that part of the deposition, Boseck said:

"That is not correct. It was a book debt in respect of my racing. Otherwise I admit the whole of the information as correct. I do not dispute that I had the two pearls, but I do dispute their identity. Can I see them in this country? I know they are at Singapore."

Mr. Bodkin then read a statement in writing made by the prisoner, and handed it to Inspector Bower.

In it Boseck stated that he won 2,000 tickets (about $750) at a Siamese Government gambling house, and that it was universally known that he lent money locally on jewelry. While at the gambling house he was asked by a "steamer's clerk" who had lost all his money, and whom he knew by sight, for the loan of 100 tickets.

06 April 2014

The Cambridges Down Under: Arrival in Wellington

Unless you've been residing under a royal-watching rock, I'm sure you're aware that the Cambridges -- duke, duchess, and prince -- are on a royal tour of New Zealand and Australia this month. I'll be doing extra periodical updates to the blog with information on the jewels Kate's been wearing. Enjoy!

William, Kate, and George arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on April 7, and Kate chose a piece of jewelry from the Queen's collection for the occasion.

The brooch that Kate has pinned to her red coat is the silver fern brooch given to Queen Elizabeth II by the women of Auckland. It's made of diamonds set in platinum. The first tour that Elizabeth and Philip made to New Zealand happened in the summer of 1953 (that's the southern hemisphere's summer, of course), and they were in the country for Christmas. She received the brooch as a Christmas gift and wore it during subsequent engagements on the tour. It's often seen on HM at events in or related to New Zealand, including her official portrait as Queen of New Zealand.

Sunday Sparkler: Queen Alexandrine's Fringe Tiara

Countess Sussie of Rosenborg wears the fringe tiara [1]
If you delve deep enough into any royal tiara collection, you're sure to bump into a fringe tiara eventually. Nearly every royal family has at least one of the sparklers, in part because so many of them are descended from the Russian grand duchesses who popularized them in the nineteenth century. We’re used to seeing one Danish princess, Benedikte, wearing a flashy fringe tiara on a regular basis. But that’s not the fringe tiara that actually comes from the Danish royal collection; Benedikte wears the fringe tiara of the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg family. The Danish royal fringe tiara is today's sparkler: Queen Alexandrine's Fringe Tiara.

Anastasia Mikhailovna [2]
This tiara, like so many others of its kind, began its life in Russia. Tsar Alexander II gave it to his niece, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna, when she married Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1879. We've discussed before how popular these diamond fringe tiaras were in the imperial court of Russia. They were made to resemble Russian kokoshnik headdresses, and nearly every grand duchess received one in her wedding trousseau. Anastasia's fringe tiara is a bit unusual; rather than being set in precise geometric spikes, the individual fringes of the tiara are actually a bit curved along the edges, with round diamonds arranged in a row and pear-shaped diamonds at the tip of each fringe. The tiara appears to be fuller in the photographs of Anastasia than it does on later wearers; this might suggest that the piece was altered at some point, but it might also be a case where the tiara was worn with a fabric kokoshnik behind it to make it look more solid.

Anastasia, who you can see wearing the fringe tiara in the image on the left, was quite the scandalous grand duchess — she gambled in Monaco, had an illegitimate son with her private secretary, and was even (probably falsely) accused of killing her husband. The press today would love her. But in between all of that, Anastasia also managed to give birth to a future queen. Her daughter, Alexandrine, married King Christian X of Denmark in 1898; she would be the next owner of the fringe tiara. According to Alexandrine's granddaughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, she wasn't that fond of wearing the elaborate royal jewels that she inherited from her Russian mother: "She was a very modest, really shy person. but for great occasions she would put on the jewelry that you would expect her to. But I remember that she did not wear a lot of jewelry."

05 April 2014

The Bernadottes Go Dutch

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam [1]
I'm interrupting our regular weekend schedule for a good reason -- official visit jewels galore! Stay tuned tomorrow for a "Sunday Sparkler" post!

This year marks a significant milestone in Swedish/Dutch foreign relations: the 400th anniversary of the opening of the Swedish embassy in The Hague in 1614. To celebrate, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are making an official visit to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands this Friday and Saturday. You can read a complete schedule of yesterday and today's events here (in Swedish). Friday's events were especially sparkling -- let's take a look at the queenly jewels on display, shall we?

During the official welcome ceremony for the Bernadottes to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, Queen Maxima and Queen Silvia chose daytime jewels: earrings, bracelets, and brooches (and of course, fabulous hats!).

04 April 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: March 28-April 3

March 28 - April 3, 2014

From a debut state banquet to a sparkling charity ball, here are the top royal jewel stories of the week!

10. Monte-Carlo went Russian on Saturday for the annual Rose Ball, a charity event in support of the Princess Grace Foundation. Princess Charlene, Princess Caroline, Charlotte Casiraghi, and Beatrice Borromeo sparkled alongside numerous other guests.

03 April 2014

Jewel History: Coronation Tiaras Shown (1911)

Queen Mary in her coronation regalia, 1911 [1]
"Coronation Tiaras Shown"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 3 Apr 1911)

Lady Decies [6]
An exhibition of the wonderful collection of tiaras to be worn by members of the royal family and peeresses at the coronation was opened today.

The object of the exhibition is to benefit the Prince Francis of Teck Memorial Fund [2], for the endowment of Middlesex Hospital. The value of the tiaras is roughly estimated at $1,000,000, but historical and sentimental associations make them priceless.

The Duchess of Westminster's crown, with five immense diamonds, was considered by many visitors as the queen of the show [3]. The value of Lady Newborough's crown of diamonds [4], topped with emerald spikes, is assessed at $90,000.

Lady Decies [5], the most recent American bride, is represented by a crown of diamonds, the wedding gift of her father, George Gould.

1. Detail of Sir William Llewellyn's coronation portrait of Queen Mary; full version here.
2. Prince Francis of Teck was Queen Mary's brother. He died of pneumonia at Balmoral in October 1910, and his will is the one that set the precedent for the sealing of all royal wills to follow. He's perhaps best known to jewel lovers because he bequeathed the Cambridge emeralds to his mistress, Lady Kilmorey, Mary bought them back and had them mounted in her jewels for the Delhi Durbar.
3. In 1911, the Duchess of Westminster was Constance Cornwallis-West (1876-1970), the first wife of the second duke.
4. Grace Wynn, Lady Newborough was the Kentucky-born wife of the 4th Baron Newborough.
5. The newest American buccaneer at court in April 1911 was Helen Vivien Beresford, Lady Decies; she had married the 5th Baron Decies on February 7.
6. Cropped version of an image in the public domain; source here.

02 April 2014

Redesign It: The Norwegian Amethyst Necklace Tiara

The Norwegian Amethyst Necklace Tiara [1]
It's time once again to don your "jewelry designer" caps, readers! Summon up your inner Prince Albert, and consider this: if you could redesign the tiara setting of the amethyst necklace/tiara owned by the Norwegian royal family, what changes to the piece would you make?

1. Cropped version of a photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.

01 April 2014

Queen Margrethe's Floral Aigrette Tiara

Queen Margrethe wears the floral aigrette, 2010 [1]
No joke: today is April 1st, which means it's time for a new magpie of the month here at The Court Jeweller! So far, we've examined jewel-wearers from the past, but this month, we're delving into the collection of a currently-reigning queen: Margrethe II of Denmark. She's the daughter of two reigning royal families [2], and she has a heirloom jewel collection to match that impressive legacy. Today, let's kick off the month with a look at a floral tiara for spring: Margrethe's versatile floral aigrette.

The complicated, all-diamond tiara apparently dates to the middle of the nineteenth century. It’s said that it perhaps once belonged to Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, whose elder daughter, Alexandrine, was the consort of King Christian X of Denmark. (There’s another tiara in Denmark that once belonged to Anastasia — the Queen Alexandrine Fringe [3].) The tiara breaks down into three sections. It’s a large piece, able to be worn as a nearly closed circlet. The various sections can be taken apart and worn separately. The central flower element of the middle section is mounted en tremblant, so it shimmers and moves slightly as the wearer moves.

Queen Ingrid [4]
By the middle of the twentieth century, we know for sure that the tiara was not in royal hands. It was owned by a famous Danish-American tenor, Lauritz Melchior, who was famous for singing Wagnerian opera. His wife was photographed in the aigrette in the early 1960s. But in 1963, the Melchiors decided to part with the tiara, putting it up for auction. The buyer was King Frederik IX of Denmark, the grandson of Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna. The tiara’s connection with the grand duchess is ultimately speculation, but it would make sense for Frederik to purchase a tiara at auction if it had once belonged to one of his ancestors. After all, the Danes had plenty of sparklers at their disposal already, so I think that the links to Anastasia are highly likely and that the purchase was a sentimental one.

Frederik’s wife, Queen Ingrid, wore the tiara for the first time at Margrethe's wedding to Count Henri Laborde de Monpezat in 1967. She continued to wear it regularly at occasions afterward, (you can see her wearing it in the image at left), and she also lent it to her daughter. Queen Margrethe has been incredibly inventive in the ways that she wears the piece, donning parts of it as a brooch and arranging the sections in various ways in her hair [5] She remarked in De Kongelige Juveler, an absolutely excellent royal jewel documentary [6], that she enjoys the versatility of the tiara. She noted, "I like wearing it slightly differently from time to time, and I think my hairdresser enjoys doing it like that, too."