Tiara Thursday: The Chaumet Lacis Tiara

© Chaumet

When Rebecca Bettarini marries her Russian Grand Duke (more about his imperial lineage here) later this year, she’ll be wearing the Lacis Tiara by Chaumet. The tiara, though understated, is quite spectacular. Hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds, set in white gold, are studded throughout the latticework. There are two center diamonds: one oval cut diamond weighing just over 5 carats and one pear-shaped diamond weighing 2.21 carats.

I can understand why Rebecca selected Maison Chaumet for her nuptial diadem. Before the Russian Revolution, Chaumet had a decades-long relationship with the Romanovs.

© Chaumet

In an interview with Point de Vue, Rebecca said Chaumet presented her with several tiaras. She knew almost immediately which tiara she wanted to wear. The Lacis Tiara reminded her of a kokoshnik, the traditional Russian headdress. Another plus for her is that the tiara has never been worn before (it’s a fairly recent creation).

But there is more to planning an imperial wedding than just choosing a tiara. As part of the wedding preparations Rebecca converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. She also changed her name to Victoria Romanovna. The wedding will take place in St. Petersburg on October 1, 2021.

Rebecca’s nuptial tiara is modern, light and airy; perfect for an evening of revelry and dancing. It’s difficult to judge this tiara as a wedding diadem without first seeing the wedding ensemble, but I trust she will look fabulous.

What do we say, yay or nay?

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Princess Margaret’s Aquamarine and Diamond Cluster Ring

Christie’s

Princess Margaret’s Aquamarine and Diamond Cluster Ring was sold by Christie’s in 2006. The fairly large aquamarine is set in gold and surrounded by twelve brilliant-cut diamonds. I hope whoever bought this ring wears it often because it is stunning and perfect.

You can find the other items of Princess Margaret’s auction sale over at Christie’s.

Thanks for stopping by on this sunny (at least in my neck of the woods) Tuesday. Have a great day!

Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan

I have one more book to share with you for this week. Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan is a treasure trove of royal jewelry secrets. The author was given permission to view Christie’s extensive archives and this book is the result of his painstaking research.

The book is cleverly divided by themes. Each chapter takes on a specific theme and then breaks it down even further by the royal, their jewelry and the history of the jewelry. For example the first chapter is titled Guillotine Diamonds and discusses Madame La Comtesse du Barry and her jewelry. The second chapter focuses on the murdered queens/kings: Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette of France, Draga of Serbia and Ludwig II and their valuables.

There are a number of well-written and well-researched articles tracing the history of royal jewelry. The photographs are plentiful and spectacular! The author also includes plenty of illustrations, portraits and old sales receipts/slips from the auctions. It’s really a gem of a book and I’ve gotten lost for hours within its pages.

It’s hard to choose which royal jewelry book to buy, but this one really is a good choice. I’ve met many new royals (such as Draga) that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Besides being a book about jewelry, I’d say it’s also about world history. After all, the jewelry traveled through the centuries and witnessed plenty of upheaval and revolution.

Have you read Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed?

Happy Reading!

20th Century Jewelry & the Icons of Style by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes

Maria Callas graces the cover of 20th Century Jewelry & the Icons of Style.

“Worthwhile, both for the sumptuous jewelry and for the stunning lifestyle photographs.”

Society of Jewelry Historians

Description:

For many centuries, collecting precious jewels was the province of kings and queens, emperors, and maharajas. But in the aftermath of the First World War, royal gems passed into the hands of a different kind of elite that included celebrities and a coterie that reveled in a nouveau riche whirl. Changes in fashion and the rise of Art Deco style led them to reset pieces or commission exquisite contemporary designs.

Authors Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes explore this dazzling era via profiles of eleven glamorous women who built up astonishing jewelry collections in the mid-twentieth century. This revised and updated edition includes two new chapters that explore the lives and jewels of Ganna Walska and Hélene Rochas.

The authors reveal the remarkable stories behind the jewels and their collectors. Not only do they bring to life the worlds in which these women moved, but they also describe the gems in detail and chronicle the work of the leading jewelers of the day, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston. The book is illustrated with gorgeous close-up photography of the jewels as well as drawings of the original designs, and includes portraits of the collectors by Beaton, Horst, and other leading photographers of the time.

Another book I use for jewelry research is 20th Century Jewelry & the Icons of Style by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes. This book does not solely focus on royals but that’s okay because royal jewelry tends to end up being sold, which results in women of all social strata purchasing and wearing it. This is why today’s book recommendation is another excellent one!

Each chapter in the book focuses on one particular woman, her jewelry and the history of her jewelry.

The women covered are:

  • Marjorie Merriweather Post
  • Lydia, Lady Deterding
  • The Duchess of Windsor
  • Daisy Fellowes
  • Countess Mona Bismarck
  • Barbara Hutton
  • Merle Oberon
  • The Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda
  • Maria Callas
  • HH The Begum Aga Khan III
  • Nina Dyer

As with the other books I featured this week, 20th Century Jewelry has scrumptious photographs, biographies, historic details galore and in-depth jewelry history to please any jewelry lover.

Happy Reading!

Spectacular: Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection by Liana Paredes

Spectacular: Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection by Liana Paredes is the exhibit book for the Spectacular Gems and Jewelry exhibit that took place at Hillwood Mansion and Museum a number of years ago. Hillwood is one of my favorite museums. Before the pandemic I used to visit all the time.

This book does not disappoint. The photographs are simply stunning. While not a royal jewelry book, it does cover important jewels with a Napoleonic connection.

For in-depth reading, there are also several well-researched articles written by the Museum’s curators tracing the history of important jewels.

Some of the items covered in the book are:

The Yusupov Diamond Earrings (I’ll be writing more about the earrings soon)

The Blue Heart Diamond

The Marie Louise Diadem (I’ll definitely be writing about this tiara soon)

The Marie Louise Diamond Necklace

All in all, it’s a lovely little jewel history book that has enough substantial information to keep you enthralled for hours.

Luckily, it’s not overpriced and can be purchased used for a decent price.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another book recommendation, but please feel free to let me know if you have any royal jewelry book recommendations!

Happy Reading!

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

While I borrow most of my books from the library (they can be pricey), I have splurged on a number of jewelry tomes over the years. This week, I’ll share some of my favorite royal jewelry books from my personal library.

One of the books I enjoy for enjoyment and research is Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn.

What can I say about this book except that I love it so very much! It has given me countless hours of entertainment. The book covers more than just tiaras; there is historical context behind the jewelry. There are plenty of royal biographies and the glossy photographs and countless illustrations will keep you happy for hours.

Geoffrey C. Munn, a leading expert in this topic, was granted access to important jewelry archives not usually available to the public, such as Cartier and Boucheron. And the chapters focus on a myriad of tiara topics such as Art Deco, Russian tiaras, European crown jewels and tiaras made as art. Plus so much more.

If you love royal jewelry, then this is a good book to get your hands on. However, it appears that this book is no longer in print. Sadly, sellers on Amazon are pricing it far too exorbitantly. I don’t believe in overpaying for anything. If you’re interested in this book, I suggest you check with your local bookshop or perhaps the local library.

Thank you for stopping by today. Stop by tomorrow for another book recommendation!

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Archduchess Elizabeth Marie’s wedding gifts

Wikimedia Commons

Today’s royal trinket is an old photograph. But what a photograph it is!

The photograph depicts the incredible wedding presents Archduchess Elizabeth Marie of Austria received on the occasion of her marriage in 1902 to Prince Otto of Windisch-Graetz. Elizabeth Marie was the only child of Crown Prince Rudolph (son of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, or Sisi). With such an illustrious lineage, it makes sense that she would have received such lovely jewels.

On the middle shelf to the right you can spot the 27 jeweled stars made by Köchert for Empress Elizabeth. Sisi wore them in her hair in the famous portrait by Winterhalter. The photograph of the wedding gifts depicts the last time all the stars were together because Elizabeth Marie (and later her heirs) gave them away as gifts. Sadly, most of the stars have disappeared from history.

Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown

© Royal Collection Trust

Today’s jewel is no stranger to you! Queen Victoria commissioned her diamond crown after the death of her beloved Prince Albert. Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown was made in 1870 by the crown jeweler, Garrard & Co.

Via Wikimedia Commons. © Royal Collection Trust.

There are 1,187 brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds set in the silver, open-framed crown. Victoria often wore the crown with her widow’s cap. She wore it for formal events and for when she conducted audiences. So, in a way it became her every-day crown. After Victoria’s death, it was worn by Queen Alexandra, but the crown has remained synonymous with Queen Victoria.

The small crown is part of the Crown Jewels. Perhaps when this pandemic is over you can view it on display at the Tower of London.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Consuelo Montagu’s Emerald and Diamond Necklace

© Sotheby’s

Speaking of the Duchess of Manchester…

An emerald and diamond necklace, from the collection of Consuelo Montagu, Duchess of Manchester, was sold by Sotheby’s in 2015. The necklace contains 11 cushion-cut emeralds weighing approximately 28 carats. The emeralds are surrounded by old mine and rose-cut diamonds also weighing approximately 28 carats. The necklace was made circa 1860 and at one point in time was probably part of a parure.

The Manchester Tiara

© The Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara belonged to an American woman who married into the British aristocracy. The Manchester Tiara was made by Cartier in 1903 for Consuelo, Dowager Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909). 

The heart-shaped scrolls give this tiara a very romantic feel, don’t you think? It’s set with thousands of rose-cut diamonds, most of them supplied by the Dowager Duchess herself. Mr. Cartier, when planning the tiara’s design, asked his designers do draw inspiration from the 18th century ironworks of Paris and Versailles. This was a fitting design inspiration because Consuelo spent the early years of her life in Paris.

The Dowager Duchess of Manchester was born Miss Consuelo Yznaga in 1853 in New York City. She was one of four children born to Cuban-born millionaire Antonio Yznaga del Valle and his American-born wife Ellen Maria Clement of New Orleans.

Even though the Yznagas were wealthy, the family was met with suspicion by the upper echelons of American society. On top of being classified as nouveau riche (new money) by the established families, the Yznagas had “foreign lineage” which made them less desirable to socialize with. (To put things in perspective, the Astors were old money.)

Wikimedia Commons. Consuelo, painted by John Singer Sargent.

Nevertheless, Consuelo grew up happy and loved by her parents. Because the Yznagas were shunned by America’s top families, they spent most of their time in Paris where they received a very warm welcome by Empress Eugénie and her circle. After the fall of the Second Empire, the Yznagas relocated to London.

Consuelo became one of the first “Dollar Princesses” when she married George Victor Drogo Montagu, the future 8th Duke of Manchester. His family was initially not pleased with the match. They had never met the bride before the engagement and could not comprehend having an American daughter-in-law. They even tried to stop the wedding from happening. However, the family was won over by Consuelo and the wedding took place in 1876 in New York City.

Though it was not a happy marriage (both had extramarital affairs), Consuelo paved the way for other Americans to marry into aristocratic families.

The Manchester Tiara, with its heart-shaped motif, was a fitting choice for a sentimental American woman who forged a place for herself within British society. Today the tiara belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sources

American Heiresses of the Gilded Age by Melissa Ziobro (The Great Courses)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace