02 June 2019

The Dutch Diamond and Pearl Devant de Corsage

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Today's royal brooch post is an absolute whopper! As we begin our annual June exploration of magnificent royal pearls, we've got a closer look today at the grand diamond and pearl devant de corsage from the Dutch royal vaults.

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The corsage ornament (or, as they're sometimes called, stomacher) was made in the early nineteenth century. The piece features a large diamond bow from which a pearl pendant is suspended. A diamond-studded chain also hangs from the brooch, supporting a smaller diamond bow brooch and a pair of additional pearl pendants. The jewel contains several rare pink diamonds.

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The first recorded wearer of the devant de corsage was Sophie of W├╝rttemberg, the German princess who married King Willem III of the Netherlands in 1839. You can spot the jewel pinned to the bodice of her gown in the portrait above, which dates to the late 1830s or early 1840s. Sophie's mother was Grand Duchess Catharina Pavlovna of Russia, and many think that the stomacher may have originally belonged to her. Some even call this piece the "Russian Brooch."

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After Queen Sophie's death, the devant de corsage remained with the Dutch royals. It was eventually inherited by Queen Wilhelmina, the only child of King Willem III's second marriage. She chose the ornament for a series of portraits taken at the time of her abdication. You'll see it pinned to her gown above. You'll also note that, in Wilhelmina's portrait, the two pearl pendants at the bottom of the jewel (as well as in Queen Sophie's portrait) are attached so that they hang as negligee pendants. (For a refresher on what that term means in the jewelry world, head over here!)

Wim van Rossem/Anefo/Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons

The brooch was worn in the same configuration by Queen Juliana, who loved jewelry and wore this piece numerous times. Above, she wears the ornament for a gala dinner at the Austrian Embassy in May 1961.

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As is the case with most of these grand jewels, the different sections can be detached and worn in various configurations. Princess Beatrix often wore the larger bow alone with a trio of pearl pendants (or, on occasion, with three diamond drops). She chose this version of the ornament for the dinner held in Amsterdam on the night before her abdication in April 2013.

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Queen Maxima has also worn the brooch on multiple occasions. Above, she pairs the piece with the Antique Pearl Tiara during the state visit from China to the Netherlands in March 2014. The occasion was a significant one: it was the first incoming state visit of her husband's reign.

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More recently, Maxima wore the grand ornament for the annual gala diner for the Diplomatic Corps held in April 2019. (See all the jewels from the gala here!)

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She also paired the devant de corsage with the Antique Pearl Tiara for the diplomatic gala. (Learn more about the tiara here!)