The Duchess of Angoulême Emerald Tiara

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The Duchess of Angoulême Emerald Tiara was created by Maison Bapst, jeweler to the French Court, for the only surviving child of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France.

The tiara was created many years after the French Revolution; between September 1819 and July 1820 with stones already in the French Treasury. It’s made out of gold. The emeralds and diamonds are set in silver. The large center emerald weighs almost 16 carats. The tiara is set with 40 emeralds for a total weight of 79.12 carats. The emeralds are surrounded by over one thousand diamonds. (1,031 to be exact.)

Princess Marie-Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême, may have been in need of regal jewelry because in 1799 she married an heir to the throne, her first cousin Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, son of Louis XVI’s younger brother, Charles X. (As an aside, the Duke of Angoulême briefly reigned as Louis XIX for about 20 minutes, before he abdicated.)

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Later, the emerald and diamond tiara became the favorite tiara of the beautiful Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. After the defeat of Napoleon III in 1870, the jewel became the property of the state. However, the French sold it in 1887, along with the other crown jewels.

In modern times, the tiara came into the possession of Lady Belinda Lambton, wife of the Conservative Defense Minster, Lord Lambton. Throughout Lady Lambton’s ownership, it was kept safe inside Wartski’s vaults. Before Lord Lambton’s death in 2006, it was sold to the Louvre, where it’s been on display ever since.

Resources Consulted

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Wartski: The First One Hundred and Fifty Years by Geoffrey C. Munn

The Diamond known as “The Regent”

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The cushion cut 140 carat diamond, known as The Regent, was discovered in India in 1698. The diamond was acquired by the French Regent, Philippe d’Orléans, in 1717 and has been on display at the Louvre since 1887.

According to the Louvre Museum:

Taking advantage of the economic prosperity that developed in France under the influence of John Law, Philippe d’Orléans, regent from 1715 to 1723, persuaded the Regency Council to purchase the diamond on 6 June 1717. At the time, The Regent outshone all known diamonds in the western world, and by 1719 it had already tripled in value. Today, it is still considered the finest diamond in the world; its color is “of the first water”, that is perfectly white and practically flawless. After the Regency, the gem remained one of the most precious of the Crown’s treasures and adorned all the crowned heads of France.

Louvre Museum

The Regent was worn for the first time by Louis XV at the reception of a Turkish embassy in 1721. It was then mounted temporarily on the king’s crown for his coronation ceremony on 25 October 1722. Shortly after his marriage to Maria Leczinska on 5 September 1725, Louis XV began wearing the diamond on his hat, a habit he continued throughout his reign. For the coronation of Louis XVI, on 11 June 1775, a new crown was made similar to that of Louis XV, featuring The Regent on the front. Like his grandfather, Louis XVI sported the gem on his hat. Stolen in 1792, then found again the following year hidden in some roof timbers, the diamond was used as security on several occasions by the Directoire and later the Consulat, before being permanently redeemed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801. The First Consul used it to embellish his sword, designed by the goldsmiths Odiot, Boutet and Nitot. In 1812 it appeared on the Emperor’s two-edged sword, the work of Nitot. Following changes in the ruling regime, the diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III, and finally on the Grecian diadem of Empress Eugénie*.

Louvre Museum

Resources Consulted

Louvre Museum

*Painting of Empress Eugénie wearing the diadem with the Regent.

A Noble Diamond Brooch

 © Sotheby’s

Recently, Sotheby’s sold at their annual Royal & Noble auction a diamond brooch for £5,292.

The brooch is not marked by a specific jeweler, so it’s difficult to ascertain its maker or country of origin. However, it was listed as “Property of a Lady of Title” giving the diamond brooch an aristocratic, possibly even royal, provenance.

The total diamond weight is approximately 4.50 to 5.50 carats and was made circa 1800 or later. The brooch is designed in the shape of a flower and mounted en tremblant, which was the preferred jewelry style of that time period.

I think it’s stunning and I’d wear it in a heartbeat. I hope the lucky buyer enjoys it immensely.

A Tidbit About Queen Victoria’s Engagement Ring

© Royal Collection, via Wikimedia Commons. Queen Victoria wearing her wedding dress, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

Prince Albert wasn’t allowed to propose to Queen Victoria because she was a reigning monarch. However, after Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert, he gave her an emerald and ruby engagement ring set in gold. What’s unique about this ring? It’s in the shape of a snake. It was quite the fashion in Queen Victoria’s day to wear serpent-like rings. Serpents were thought to represent love so it makes sense that Prince Albert commemorated their engagement with such a ring.

The engagement ring is buried with Queen Victoria, but you can find a similar style here.

Queen Máxima’s Engagement Ring

© RVD – Erwin Olaf, Royal House of the Netherlands

One of my favorite royals is Queen Máxima of the Netherlands because of her vivaciousness. She wears clothes and royal jewelry with enthusiasm and sometimes her motto seems to be more is more is more. I love that about her and we’ll talk more about Queen Máxima and her tiaras another day. Today, it’s about her engagement ring.

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King Willem-Alexander proposed to his love, Ms. Máxima Zorreguieta of Argentina, with a large oval-shaped orange diamond. The orange diamond is flanked by two emerald-cut white diamonds set in platinum and encrusted with numerous brilliant-cut diamonds. King Willem-Alexander was feeling patriotic with this particular diamond. As Prince of Orange it was fitting to gift his bride, the future Princess of Orange (now Queen), a rare orange diamond. I think the colored diamond is beautiful and suits her exuberant personality very well. What do you think?

Resources Consulted

Royal House of the Netherlands

Imperial Fabergé Frame

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Last week we talked about Easter eggs by Fabergé at Hillwood Museum, so I thought you’d like to see another Fabergé item.

Mrs. Post, who developed an appreciation for Russian culture, purchased this picture frame made by Fabergé during her time in Moscow. The frame is composed of rhodonite, gold, silver, enamel, diamonds and mother-of-pearl. A picture of Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina, is in the frame. It feels sad to look at Tatiana’s picture given the tragic fate that befell the Romanovs.

Next to the frame is a presentation box also made of rhodonite and gold, with the seal encircled in diamonds. Though it matches the frame almost exactly, it’s not by Fabergé. The maker is unknown, but it’s believed to have been made in Western Europe during the first half of the 1800s.

Resources Consulted

Hillwood Museum

Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau Tiara

Embed from Getty Images

Today’s tiara is a long-hidden treasure from the coffers of Her Majesty the Queen. But the tiara dates much older than Queen Elizabeth II. It initially belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary. On the occasion of her wedding in 1893, the County of Lincoln gifted the then Princess Mary a brooch composed of ten brilliant diamonds. Almost four decades later, in 1932, Queen Mary had a tiara made specifically to fit this brooch. The large detachable brooch sits within a platinum band of eleven flexible sections set with even more brilliant diamonds.

Embed from Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II inherited this intricate tiara in 1953. The geometric design appears strikingly modern, which made it such a perfect fit for the very modern Duchess of Sussex on her wedding day.

Thank you so much for reading this week. I’ll be back on Monday with even more royal jewels. I hope you have a great weekend!

Resources Consulted

Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

Royal Collection Trust

The Imperial Easter Eggs at Hillwood Museum

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C., the home of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, is a treasure trove. Two of the most unique decorative arts pieces nestled within its dazzling walls are imperial Easter eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his workmasters. 

Mrs. Post, as wife to the second ambassador to the USSR, Joseph E. Davies, purchased numerous Russian treasures of imperial provenance during her time in Moscow.

In 1885, Alexander III began the annual tradition of commissioning Fabergé for intricate Easter eggs as gifts for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. After his death, his son, Nicholas II continued the tradition by purchasing two eggs every year for Easter. One for his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. The second, for his wife, Tsarina Alexandra. 

This decades-long tradition produced more than fifty eggs, two of which made their way into Mrs. Post’s collection.

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II and presented to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1896, the diamond-studded Twelve Monogram Easter Egg (also known as the Imperial Monogram Egg) is decorated with the Cyrillic initials of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna. The initials are made entirely of rose-cute diamonds and are set against a dark-blue enameled background. Fabergé and his workmasters were especially skilled in enameling. The surprise inside the egg was a frame holding six tiny portraits of Alexander III. Sadly, the surprise is now lost to history. Maria Feodorovna was immensely pleased. In a letter to Nicholas II she wrote, “I can’t find words to express to you, my dear Nicky, how touched and moved I was on receiving your ideal egg with the charming portraits of your dear, adored Papa. It is all such a beautiful idea, with our monograms above it all.”

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II and presented to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1914, the Catherine the Great Easter Egg has pink translucent enameled panels showcasing allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences. Four smaller panels contain scenes from the four seasons. According to a letter written by the Dowager Empress to her sister, Queen Alexandra, the surprise inside the egg was a seated Catherine the Great. Catherine the Great was a lover of the arts and sciences, so it makes sense that she would have been the surprise. However, by the time this egg made it to the collection of Mrs. Post, the surprise was also lost to history. In older literature, you may see this egg listed as the Imperial Cameo Egg. 

Resources Consulted

Hillwood Museum Exhibit: Fabergé Rediscovered 

Fabergé and the Russian Master Goldsmiths (1989) by Gerard Hill

Coronation Crown of Louis XV

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

It was tradition for French kings to have their own coronation crowns made. The coronation crown of Louis XV is composed of a satin cap encircled by a band of gilded silver and topped with diamonds forming a fleur-de-lis. It was worn only once, at the coronation in 1722. Shortly thereafter, the crown was delivered to the Royal Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (today it’s the Basilica of Saint-Denis) where it resided with other regalia. In 1729, Louis XV requested that the 282 diamonds, 64 gemstones and 237 pearls be replaced with paste. The crown, with its imitation paste jewels, has been at the Louvre since 1852. 

Resources Consulted

Permanent exhibit at Louvre Museum