Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Engagement ring of Princess Mary Adelaide

© Royal Collection Trust

Prince Francis of Teck proposed to Princess Mary Adelaide with a gold ring. The ring is set with five table-cut rectangular Burmese rubies and twelve diamonds. The engagement ring, with its open setting, is very much traditional looking and would not look out of place today. The inside of the ring is inscribed with “Franz, April 6, 1866.” Mary and Francis were the parents of Mary of Teck, the future spouse of George V.

Tiara Thursday: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

© Royal Collection Trust

I am sure you recognize today’s tiara!

The all-diamond diadem belonged to Queen Alexandra. It was given to her as Princess of Wales for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1888. The gift was arranged by the “Ladies of Society,” a large group of British peeresses. Made by Garrard, the tiara’s shape is in the then-popular kokoshnik style, the traditional Russian headdress. Of course the tiara can also be worn as a necklace. Convertible tiaras were all the rage in the 19th century.

Honestly, I could stare at this kokoshnik tiara all day long. It is beyond spectacular!

Today it is owned and worn by Queen Elizabeth II.

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: A lovely ruby and diamond demi-parure for your Tuesday morning!

© Sotheby’s

Today’s trinket consists of a lovely ruby and diamond demi-parure that I wish belonged to me. Sigh.

Just look at those stunning rubies. When the rubies appear pink like that (instead of red) then you know they are of very high quality. The rubies are of Burmese origin.

The set is believed to have been made in the 1820s or later. The necklace is in the shape of numerous romantic scrolls. Each scroll is set with plenty of old-mine, cushion- and rose-cut diamonds and its center is set with a cushion-shaped ruby. But wait, there is more! The scrolls are accented with ruby and diamond florets. The collection includes a ring and earrings, plus a fitted case.

Sotheby’s sold this set in 2008, but it was previously owned by Major Hon. Bernard Clive Pearson, the son of Weetman Dickinson Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray. He married Alicia Mary Dorothea Knatchbull-Hugessen in 1915. She was the daughter of the 1st Baron of Brabourne and Ethel Mary Walker. Quite the aristocratic jewelry set!



Tiara Thursday: A Mystery Tiara

© Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara is a mystery!

We don’t know who the maker is or who may have worn it. Though the Victoria and Albert Museum believes the tiara was made in England, circa 1850. We do know, however, that this tiara imitates the wreaths of silver corn-ears Queen Victoria’s attendants wore at her coronation in 1838. This makes it almost certain the tiara was made in England.

© Victoria and Albert Museum

The mystery tiara is in the form of a wreath and the brilliant and rose-cut diamonds and pearls are set in silver and gold.

© Victoria and Albert Museum. A close up.

The tiara is very beautiful, almost like a work of art. I love pearls and diamonds together. But I don’t know how wearable this tiara might be; it just doesn’t look comfortable. Maybe it’s for the best that these days the tiara sits in a museum patiently waiting for visitors to admire it.

By the way, if you are in the mood to peruse through a jewelry collection and can’t get to the Victoria and Albert Museum, I highly recommend you view the collection online. There is a large collection of jewelry available with generous historical details.


Victoria and Albert Museum

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: The Greville Peardrop Earrings

© Royal Collection Trust

I mentioned last week that a Mrs. Greville bequeathed her jewelry collection to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). The Greville Peardrop Earrings are another trinket the lucky Queen Elizabeth inherited.

The earrings were made in 1938 by Cartier for Mrs. Greville. The diamond earrings consist of three portions: pentagonal tops, emerald-cut diamonds and pear-shaped drops. Queen Elizabeth bequeathed them to her daughter Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.

Via Wikimedia Commons. Margaret Greville in 1900.

But let’s back up for a second and talk about this Mrs. Greville. Who was she exactly? Mrs. Greville, born Margaret Helen Anderson (1863-1942), was the daughter of William McEwan, the founder of a beer brewing company. She married Captain Ronald Greville, heir to a baronetcy, in 1891. Her marriage provided her with numerous wedding jewels and she purchased more jewelry herself. Mrs. Greville cultivated the fine arts and was a patron of goldsmiths and jewelers. She may not have possessed a royal title, but she ran in the same social circles and entertained royals and celebrities.

The earrings were worn by the Queen Mother on numerous occasions. Today they are worn by Queen Elizabeth II. The legacy of Mrs. Greville lives on!

The note in the will bequeathing the collection read, “To Her Majesty The Queen, with my loving thoughts.” If only we all had a Mrs. Greville in our lives!


Royal Collection Trust

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tiara Thursday: The Lotus Flower Tiara

You may recognize today’s tiara because it was worn at a 2015 state banquet by the Duchess of Cambridge! The Lotus Flower Tiara was a gift from Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother). The Queen Mother later gave it to Princess Margaret, who loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Serena, to wear as her wedding diadem. Quite a historic tiara with so many outings!

Geoffrey Munn describes the tiara as “Egyptian inspired.” Indeed, the tiara is arranged in a line of diamond encrusted lotus flowers and arches. It’s studded with two pearls at its base and topped with a large natural pearl.

I am not sure of the ownership of this tiara, but since it was more recently seen on the Duchess of Cambridge I can only surmise that after the death of Princess Margaret it returned to Queen Elizabeth II.

I like that the tiara seems to be flexible. The Queen Mother wore it low across her forehead, as was the style. The Duchess of Cambridge wore it up higher. It’s wonderful when a tiara can be adjusted for a new era!

Here’s hoping to seeing this tiara again very soon!


Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: The Greville Diamond Earrings

© Royal Collection Trust

These specacular diamond earrings were made by Cartier for Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1929. In 1942 she bequeathed her jewelry collection to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother). Just a few years later, in 1947, the king and queen gave the earrings to their daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as a wedding gift.

The classic design mimics a chandelier. The cut of the diamonds (half-moon, trapeze, square, baguette, baton and emerald) give the earrings their art deco style. I think the design is timeless. Sadly, they haven’t been worn in recent years.


Royal Collection Trust

Tiara Thursday: The Spencer Tiara

© Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer.

The Spencer family is one of the oldest aristocratic families in Britain. In fact, I once read somewhere that Lady Diana Spencer had more royalty in her lineage than Prince Charles. Naturally such an illustrious family would be in possession of a few tiaras. One of their tiaras is the Spencer Tiara made world-famous by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Though two pieces set towards the back of the tiara date to the late 18th century, the Spencer Tiara was made by Garrard in the 1930s. The tiara’s design motif features diamond foliage, flowers and a heart-shaped center. The tiara is mounted in gold and the diamonds are set in silver. The two older elements of the tiara were probably owned by Frances, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The heart-shaped design was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp as a wedding present in 1919. In 1937, Garrard created this tiara by combining the heart-shaped motif with the two older Spencer elements, plus by adding a few modern elements.

The late Princess of Wales wearing her family’s ancestral tiara.

While the tiara has elements that are very old, it is very much a 20th century tiara made famous in 1981 when Lady Diana Spencer wore it as her nuptial diadem.

Whenever I see this tiara I can’t help but think of our dear Diana and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s a beautiful diamond tiara which suited her very well. Today it’s owned by her brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer.


Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tiara Thursday: The Poltimore Tiara

Image taken from my copy of Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour.

The Poltimore Tiara was made in 1870 by Garrard for Lady Poltimore, the wife of the second Baron Poltimore and Treasurer to Queen Victoria’s household from 1872 to 1874. The tiara’s thousands of diamonds are set in silver and gold. The design mimics romantic clusters of diamonds and diamond-set scroll motifs. The diadem remained in the Poltimore family until it was sold at auction on January 29, 1959.

Wikimedia Commons. Lady Poltimore wearing the Poltimore Tiara. Circa 1890.

It was purchased for Princess Margaret upon the occasion of her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, which took place on May 6, 1960. According to Christie’s lot essay, “The tiara was purchased upon the recommendation of Lord Plunket, who was Deputy Master of the Household from 1954 to 1975. It was acquired in 1959 before the official announcement by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 26th February 1960 of the engagement of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret to Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones.”

Image via the BBC.

Princess Margaret wore the sparkling tiara as a necklace before her wedding. When worn as a necklace, it takes the shape of a fringe design. The fringe design showed off the diamond leaves and flowers splendidly. Margaret also wore pieces of the tiara as brooches; in fact eleven pieces of the tiara can be taken apart to wear as brooches. Margaret’s first public debut of the tiara was on her wedding day.

© Christie’s

The tiara is large, imposing and spectacular. It was the perfect diadem for the last of the English princesses born to a king in a bygone era. Princess Margaret was every inch a princess; she was demanding, a perfectionist, yearned to be admired, loved and respected. Margaret insisted on royal protocol; even her friends referred to her as “ma’am.” At the same time, her search for happiness and freedom outside of a gilded cage eluded her; scandals followed her throughout her adult life and she was unhappily married. She died in 2002 at the age of 71.

After Princess Margaret’s death, the Poltimore Tiara was sold by her children.


Christie’s Press Release

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Princess Margaret’s Diamond, Pearl and Gem-Set Bracelet

© Christie’s

Princess Margaret’s auction at Christie’s is a treasure trove of history. If you have time, take a look at the 2006 Christie’s auction. Honestly, I’d classify Princess Margaret as a bit of a hoarder because she seems to never have let go of any of her belongings. But then again, if I was the owner of countless Fabergé and priceless heirloom jewelry I’d never want to let go of them either.

Today’s trinket is a bracelet that was given to Princess Margaret by her mother Queen Elizabeth. The diamond bracelet is set with one natural pearl, one sapphire and one ruby.

But before it belonged to the Queen Mother it belonged to her mother-in-law Queen Mary because she received it as a Christmas present in 1929 from King George V. And before that, it belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. What a provenance!



Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan