18 June 2014

Jewel History: "Wear Rented Gems at Court Function" (1922)

The British Royal Family, ca. June 1922

"Wear Rented Gems at Court Function"
(originally appeared on 16 Jun 1922 in the Washington Post)

A new turn in London's reaction to the royal receptions this season, the first of which occurred a few nights ago, was noted by observers of the unusual and curious. For many years it has been the custom of those who attended the courts at Buckingham Palace for the first time to make a midnight pilgrimage after the palace affair ended to the photographers' shops in the West End, where a permanent record would be made for the benefit of future generations, showing "just how father and mother looked when they were presented to their majesties."

After this season's first court the other night, however, it was noticed that a number of jewelers shops in the Bond Street district also were open, and those who sought an explanation of these unseemly shopping hours found the gorgeously bedecked occupants of numerous closed motor cars were returning the tiaras, ropes of pearls, and other jewels they had rented for the evening's wear at court.

With inroads into capital made by income tax, increased living costs, and the almost overwhelming burden of maintaining large estates on their accustomed scale of magnificence, it appears that scores of those who for years have been bidden to court functions have lately been obliged to sell their jewels, so that jewelry renters are now become hallmarked as the "best people."