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!
In the portrait by François Gérard, Grand Duchess Stéphanie von Baden is wearing her emerald and diamond necklace and earrings. It’s safe to assume that her necklace and earrings were part of a larger, grander parure, which would have included the bracelets and tiara seen in the Gérard portrait.
The emerald parure was a wedding gift to Stéphanie from Napoleon and his consort Joséphine. Stéphanie’s arranged marriage to Carl von Baden took place in 1806. Therefore the parure was probably made around 1806 by the court jeweler, Nitot et Fils.
The stones are set in gold and silver. The briolette emeralds dominate the necklace but otherwise the parure is fairly streamlined and simplistic in style, as was typical of the fashion in Napoleon’s court.
It’s not clear how the jewels were passed down through the generations. Stéphanie had three daughters who survived her. Perhaps one of them inherited the parure. Or perhaps the set stayed in Baden with the successive Grand Dukes.
The Grand Duchy of Baden ceased to exist in 1918. However, sometime after Stéphanie’s death in 1860 and before World War II, the emerald parure must have been broken up because only the earrings and necklace came into the possession of new buyers, Count and Countess Tagliavia.
Later, Countess Tagliavia donated the demi-parure to the Victoria and Albert Museum where the necklace and earrings remain on permanent display. I was able to view the emeralds in person and I can confirm they are stunning.
Yesterday we had a peek at Queen Victoria’s Emerald Diadem. Let’s take a look at the rest of the parure, which includes a necklace, earrings and a brooch, all designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria. The parure was created in 1843, two years before the creation of the emerald diadem.
The brooch’s emerald weighs 20 carats and is surrounded by diamonds. The necklace is composed of nine large emeralds and nine smaller emeralds, all surrounded by sparkling diamonds. The drop earrings also contain two fairly large pear-shaped emeralds and two smaller emeralds, also encircled by diamonds. Queen Victoria was thrilled with her gifts.
Today, the entire parure is still intact and owned by the descendants of Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife. It’s on a long-term loan to Kensington Palace, where I was very lucky to have viewed the parure in person.
Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn