29 November 2019

New Details About Prince Albert's Brooch

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Recently, Dutch royal jewelry historian Erik Schoonhoven published a new article on the history of one of the most recognizable British royal brooches: Prince Albert's Brooch.

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Erik's article highlights and expands upon research done by Theo Toebosch into "the sale process between the Amsterdam based jeweller Wolf Josephus Jitta and Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Albert’s father, of a fermoir (a clasp/fastener often used as brooch) consisting of a very large sapphire surrounded by 12 brilliants. This sale happened right after the announcement of the engagement between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is known that a similar, smaller brooch was acquired as well; even the sale of this jewel is likely mentioned in the correspondence."

Franz Xaver Winterhalter/Royal Collection/Wikimedia Commons

Albert presented the brooch to Victoria on the day before their wedding in 1840. The bauble, a sapphire and diamond brooch set in gold, was received by Victoria with enthusiasm. In her diary, she noted that Albert had given her "a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful."

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Victoria designated the brooch as an "heirloom of the crown," which means that it is specifically intended for the use of queens regnant and consort and passed from monarch to monarch for that purpose. Today, the brooch is worn by Victoria and Albert's great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.