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.
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.
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.)
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.
Tomorrow (Saturday, April 17, 2021) is Prince Philip’s funeral. May he rest in eternal peace.
You might spot Prince Philip’s personal standard on his coffin. If you do, here is what each section stands for: The three lions and ten hearts are borrowed from the Danish coat of arms. Before his marriage, Philip was Prince of Greece and Denmark. On the upper right is the white cross with blue background borrowed from the Greek flag to represent his birth land. On the lower left, the black and white stripes represent the Mountbatten family. Last but not least, the castle represents the city of Edinburgh, which was his title (Duke of Edinburgh).
If you’d like to watch the funeral, below are a few links via YouTube that I hope will work for you.
The Duchess of Roxburghe‘s tiara, made by Cartier in the 1930s, is a modern, geometric design. The tiara is set throughout with sparkling circular-cut diamonds. The top is mounted with a series of larger collet-set diamonds. It’s a gorgeous tiara! Made almost 100 years ago, it is still very much a wearable tiara.
The Duchess of Roxburghe’s convertible diamond tiara is composed of fleurs de lys and scroll motifs. Made in the late 19th century, the scrolls hold twenty pear-shaped diamonds. The tiara sits on a bandeau encrusted with cushion-shaped and rose cut diamonds. As the name (named by yours truly) suggests, the tiara is convertible! It can be worn as a bandeau and/or a necklace.
But who was the Duchess of Roxburghe?
The Duchess was born in 1915 as Mary Evelyn Hungerford Crewe-Milnes. Her father was British diplomat Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe. Named after her godmother, Queen Mary, it is no surprise that Mary became the owner of this spectacular diamond tiara. Her childhood must have been quite colorful because Mary’s parents often entertained Queen Mary and King George V. Plus, their neighbors were Lord and Lady Curzon!
Mary herself went on to play a role in the coronation of King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. She was one of the aristocratic ladies holding the new queen’s canopy during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
In 1935, Mary married George Victor Robert John Innes-Ker, 9th Duke of Roxburghe. But it was not to be a happy marriage. It ended in divorce in 1953, though not without some drama. Before the divorce was final, she simply refused to vacate her husband’s ancestral home, Floors Castle. Mary did eventually leave the castle, about six weeks later, and moved into a lovely flat in London, where she lived a happy and peaceful life until her death in 2014. As there were no children, Sotheby’s was tasked with auctioning off her estate.
In the spirit of the late Duchess, I hope the new owner wears this tiara often!
At my other blog about books and writing, I introduced a series called Trinket Tuesday. It’s where I used to write about royal (and non-royal) jewelry. It’s the series that inspired me to create The Royal Archivist! I’ve moved most of those posts and images over here, but I’ve also decided to bring back Trinket Tuesday. (Let me know if you have any special requests!)
Today’s royal trinket is one of sentimental value. A gold ring with a turquoise surrounded by ten diamonds was given to Mary, Duchess of York by George, Duke of York to commemorate the first anniversary of their engagement day. The inside of the ring is inscribed May 3rd 1894. Very romantic!
In memory of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, let’s take a look at a photograph that marked the engagement to his beloved wife, Elizabeth.
The photograph above commemorates the official engagement announcement for HRH Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. Their engagement was announced on July 19, 1947 at Buckingham Palace.
You can’t see it clearly, but Elizabeth is wearing her new engagement ring. Her diamond ring was designed by Prince Philip and made using diamonds from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Alice.
Happy April 1st! We have a new month and a new gemstone to celebrate! April’s gemstone is diamond and in honor of diamonds, let’s take a peek at a famous diamond diadem.
The Royal Collection Trust refers to this tiara as the Diamond Diadem. These days it is worn by Queen Elizabeth II when she attends the State Opening of Parliament, but it was made in 1820 by Rundell & Bridge for George IV.
This diadem is in the style of a crown and set in silver and gold. There are 1,333 sparkling diamonds to admire. Two narrow bands are completely set with pearls.
The diadem has four crosses; the center of one of the crosses is set with a four carat yellow diamond. There are also four sprays that represent the national emblems of the United Kingdom. Even though the diadem was made for a king, every queen and queen consort has worn it after George IV.
If the diadem looks vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because you might have seen it in portraits of Queen Victoria. You may have also seen this diadem worn by Elizabeth II on postage stamps and coins.
On February 26, 1952, just twenty days after Elizabeth II took the throne, photographer Dorothy Wilding snapped this photograph of the young queen. You probably recognize the tiara because this photograph is one of the iconic images that became the basis for her image on postage stamps. This was also one of the photographs sent to embassies around the world.
This necklace, designed as a romantic garland of ivy leaves, set with cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, sold for £44,100. It’s a versatile necklace; the lucky buyer can also wear it as a tiara.
I was keeping my eye on this gorgeous necklace of carved rubies, emeralds and sapphires. It’s in the famous Tutti Frutti style invented by Cartier (though this is not a necklace by Cartier). If money were no option, this is the bauble I would have purchased. It sold for £107,100.
I also find this (possibly late 18th century) diamond brooch absolutely beautiful and would gladly wear it every day were it mine. It sold for £138,600.
Queen Victoria’s enamel and diamond pendant that she commissioned in memory of her beloved daughter, Princess Alice, fetched £25,200. It’s quite a historic piece because it belonged to Queen Victoria and the pendant contains hair, probably Alice’s.
And just for fun, this little Parisian diamond and ruby evening handbag in the style of a pig sold for a whopping £109,620. Presale it was estimated between £2,000 and £3,000. I am not certain if I’d wear a handbag in the shape of a pig, but I could be persuaded were you to offer me a pig studded with rubies and diamonds.
You can view the sold auction lots over at Sotheby’s. You can also view the auction catalog of the magnificent collection. The catalog includes Mountbatten family history and detailed family trees that may be of interest to you.