29 July 2017

The Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure

Photo taken by a friend of the blog. Do not reproduce.

A good friend of mine recently made a trip to Munich, and -- knowing how much I love jewelry -- she sent me a few photographs of some of the grand royal jewelry in the treasury room at the Residenz Museum. I thought it would be fun to feature one of those sets today: the tiara and jewels Bavarian Ruby and Spinel Parure. (It's especially appropriate since we're right at the end of the month, and ruby is July's birthstone and spinel is now one of August's!)


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The suite of jewels is almost two centuries old. Made by the Bavarian court jeweler, Caspar Rieländer, the parure was a gift from King Ludwig I of Bavaria to his new wife, Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in 1830. Therese was able to enjoy her new jewels while a major party broke out around her: the first Oktoberfest was celebrated in Munich as a part of Ludwig and Therese's wedding festivities, and it's been an annual event ever since.


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The focus of Rieländer's massive new parure was, without a doubt, the tiara. This enormous diadem, which features numerous floral elements in its design, is made of gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and spinels. The tiara was so heavy and difficult to wear that Therese apparently didn't like it very much, and I don't believe there are any extant portraits of her wearing the tiara.


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Here's another view that emphasizes the diamonds that dominate the tiara's design. Can you spot the individual flowers, vines, and leaves? Many of the flowers feature diamond petals with rubies or spinels in their centers.


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The set also includes a pair of bracelets. The floral motif carries through each piece of the parure, as you can see above.


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And here are the necklace and earrings. The entire parure now lives in the treasury room of one of Bavaria's grandest museums, the Residenz in Munich.


Princess Antonia, wife of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, wears the ruby and spinel parure, ca. 1921

It's difficult to fully appreciate the size of this whopper of a tiara until you see an image of someone wearing it. Thankfully, Princess Antonia, the Luxembourgish wife of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, decided to wear the parure for a set of official portraits taken shortly after her wedding in 1921. She's wearing court dress here, and the combination of the tiara and the veil somehow makes the diadem look even more massive. Can you imagine trying to wear this one while eating dinner or dancing??? It's probably better off stored safely in a museum display.