Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prince Albert Gives Queen Victoria Three Tiaras

Queen Victoria's Sapphire & Diamond Tiara
Photo Source: Marie Poutine's Jewels & Royals Blog
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Prince Albert was a man of many talents, not the least of which was his keen eye for jewelry design. His greatest designs were reserved for his bride, Queen Victoria, and each of his gifts were flush with symbolism, beauty, and affection. Some of the most exquisite of these gifts were three tiaras he had made in the early 1800s.

The first of these tiaras is called Queen Victoria's Diamond and Emerald Tiara. Fashioned by goldmsith Joseph Kitching of Collingwood & Son in 1845, this tiara reigns as a supreme example of the neo-Gothic (Gothic revival) style of the 19th century. This circlet features quatrefoil patterns from which emerge alternating spikes. The longer spikes are tipped with large cabochon emeralds, while the short ones are crowned with a single kit-shaped emerald topped with a round white diamond.

The base of the diadem consists of two parallel bands studded with hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds. Between the two bands, cushion-cut emeralds alternate with vertical bars mounted with two round brilliant diamonds. As early as 2002, experts surmise that this beautiful crown was sold and possibly dismantled. No one with a camera has seen it since it was loaned for display during a Wartski ehxibition in 1997.

The second of these tiaras, also in the neo-Gothic style, is known as Queen Victoria's Sapphire and Diamond Tiara. This tiara is seen in an 1842 portrait of Her Majesty by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, as well as in a portrait by Richard Graves in 1874. This elegant diadem features an ample base of silver and gold set with large cushion- and kite-cut sapphires interspersed with intricate metalwork studded with white diamonds. Extending from the base are sweeping spikes alternately tipped with a single diamond or a trio of diamonds in the neo-Gothic trefoil pattern. This beautiful tiara emerged from the private collection of the Earl and Countess of Harewood in order to make an appearance at a charity event hosted in January of 2012 by Geoffrey Munn of Antiques Roadshow.

The third of these tiaras, called Queen Victoria's Strawberry Leaf Tiara, once shimmered with the red light of rubies set in the base, the band, and the spikes. However, in 1933, Cartier was comissioned by Lady Irene Denison, the wife of Victoria's great-grandson the Marquess of Carisbrooke, to remove the rubies and replace them with diamonds.

In its present state, the crown is paved solely with diamonds set in exquisite strawberry leaf patterns along the base and upon the ornate spikes of the crown. Two parallel bands of diamonds, joined by single-set round brilliants, encircles the entire crown above the strawberry leaf base. Resting upon this central banding are spikes topped with clusters of diamonds alternating with large kite-shaped diamonds. Like the emerald and diamond tiara, the whereabouts of the strawberry leaf tiara are currently unknown.
1. "Strawberry Leaf Tiara: Princess Beatrice." Royal Magazin. Accessed June 24, 2012.
2. Silver Collection. "Hallmarks of English Silver Maker's Mark Identification." Accessed June 24, 2012.
3. Pam on Fifth Blog. "A Gothic-Revival-Inspired Tiara." January 22, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2012.
4. A Fashionable Frolick Blog. "The Tiaras of Queen Victoria." April 26, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2012.
5. Jewel Info 4 U. "The Jewels of the British Monarchs Part 2 - Victorian Era." Accessed June 24, 2012.
6. Gere, Charlotte. American & European Jewelry, 1830-1914. Crown Publishers, 1975.
7. Heathman. "Queen Victoria's Tiara Turns Up in a Highgate Home." January 25, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Chemical Properties of Emeralds

Emerald Brooch
Photo Source: Porcelains and Peacocks Blog
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Chromium infiltration gives emeralds, a member of the beryl family, their distinctive bright green color. These green beauties grow in tumultuous conditions in hydrothermic veins within metamorphic formations, in mica schists, or in limestone deposits. Just like the ruby, the elements required for emeralds to form (beryllium, chromium, and vanadium) do not coexist upon the earth. It takes violent upheavals and roiling tectonic activity to bring these integral components together.

The sheer violence surrounding the creation of emerald crystals make it rare for them to form without fissures and cracks (inclusions). In fact, even some of the most valuable emeralds can be filled with a microscopic network of tiny cuts infused with air, mica, iron pyrite, or water, often resulting in a verdant milky appearance nicknamed jardin ('garden').

It was these delicate gardens within the precious gemstones that inspired jewelers to develop the very popular emerald cut, a rectangular step cut specifically tailored to preserve the structural integrity of delicate emeralds. Despite these flaws and their fragile structure, their miraculous and savage origins, coupled with their brilliant color and hardness, have endowed emeralds with an innate value that often renders them more valuable than diamonds of similar size and weight.
1. Contreras, Ashley. "Emeralds." Cochise College: Geology Home Page. Accessed June 22, 2012.
2. Clark, Don. "Gem Formation." International Gem Society. Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. Snazzdragon: A-Z of Crystals. "Emerald." Accessed June 22, 2012.
4. International Colored Gemstone Association. "Emerald." Accessed June 22, 2012.
5. Wikipedia. "Emerald." Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Healing Powers of St. Edward's Sapphire

Medieval Talismans and Cramp Rings
Photo Source: Chest of Books
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Once set in a ring belonging to Edward the Confessor (King of England, 1043-1066), St. Edward's Sapphire was known to cure scrofula, a form of tuberculosis that manifests in the neck. King Edward, who was known as a gentle Christian man of humility and prayer, customarily touched and healed many who were ill with scrofula. So effective were his healing services, that the French monarchs soon followed suit. Eventually, it came to be known that touching even the ring of a Royal family member would heal a person.

Even after he died, King Edward's sapphire ring was buried with him in 1066, but after his body's last exhumation in 1163 it appears that King Henry II removed the ring and claimed it for the Crown. The ring continued to hold the power to heal, and many other rings, known as cramprings, were prayed over by subsequent Royals and sent throughout the land for the healing of scrofula and other such wasting diseases.

As one historian, George Younghusband relates, "It was held in the old days to have the magic powers of curing the cramp, and no doubt did so, assisted by implicit faith and when applied by the King himself. Faith has performed more wonderful miracles."

Later, this endowment from God to the reigning monarch would be called the Royal Touch, and the blessing of cramprings as well as Royal healing services were routine customs in England until 1688 and in France until 1825. A change in religious doctrine led by Calvinists, who believed that healing and other spiritual gifts were reserved only for the apostles of the early church, led to the cessation of healing services in England after the reign of Queen Anne.
1. Younghusband, George John and Cyril Davenport. The Crown Jewels of England. London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1919.
2. Greater Emmitsburg Area Historical Society. Hillman's Hyperlinked and Searchable [Robert] Chambers' Book of Days. Entry: March 25th. Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. Trivia Library. "Famous Exhumations English King Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012.
4. BBC Religions. "Saint Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012.
5. English Historical Review, The. A sample from "The King's Evil." London: The Longman Group Limited, 1980. Accessed June 22, 2012.
6. Wikipedia. "Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Wear Your Antique Jewelry Without Wearing it Out

Queen Elizabeth II,
Wearing antique brooch, heirloom pearls, and vintage earrings
Photo Source: Financial News Stories
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

How many of your beautiful pieces of heirloom jewelry lie in state in the far recesses of your jewelry box? Are your antique beauties locked away in the mausoleum you call your wall safe?

Even the Queen of England takes her crown out of the Tower of London sometimes. Jewelry is wearable art. It serves a function and form that no other art form can boast. Yet, so many of the most beautiful pieces are kept locked away for fear of damaging or losing them.

I hope to empower you to wear your vintage or antique jewelry to black-tie events or even running your errands. Certainly, you will want to take precautions to prevent loss or theft while they are out of their safe cases. Also, please note that each piece of antique jewelry is unique and has undergone possible unknown stresses. It might be a sound decision to take your pieces to a jeweler to ensure that they have wearable life left in them.

Once you get clearance from your jeweler, then following these few tips will allow you to enjoy your treasure on those special occasions that warrant them. In fact, this gentle nudge may be all you need to start wearing your grandmother’s favorite pin close to your heart with every outfit. She would want you to wear it, so long as you don’t wear it out.

  1. Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before putting on your heirloom jewelry. Hairspray, perfumes, lotions, soaps, oils, and even moisture can harm antique jewels, especially pearls and opals.
  2. Consider carrying your antique or vintage rings, necklaces, brooches, and earrings to and from your event in a secured velvet carrying case. This will ensure that you do not lose an earring or drop a necklace with a faulty clasp. Choose a case that allows you to store each piece separately to guard against scratching or chipping.
  3. If you wish to live decadently and wear your heirloom jewelry as everyday adornment, be sure to put it safely away before gardening, doing housework, swimming in your chlorinated pool, or engaging in sports activities. Again, chemicals and sweat can harm your jewels, and these activities lend themselves most susceptibly to loss.
  4. As soon as you take your antique or vintage jewelry off, store it in a clean, dry place. Depending on its value, you may opt to store it in a locked safe or in a safe deposit box in between uses. Be sure that wherever you choose to safeguard it, you choose velvet-lined boxes with individual spaces or hooks to keep each piece separate from the others. This will prevent scarring, scratching, chipping, and tangling. Also, be sure you photograph and insure any pieces worth over a few hundred dollars.
Hints and Things. "Useful Tips for Cleaning Antique Jewellery." Accessed June 13, 2012.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Victorian Mourning Jewelry (Part 2)

Victorian Mourning Jewelry
Photo Source: Coco Loves Vintage Blog

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Following suit with Queen Victoria’s obsession with death, English society turned toward what Michael Wheeler calls the "Victorian Death Cult." The majority of England became sickly fascinated with death and mourning, and funeral rites transformed from ritualistic to sentimental and showy. 

With this trend toward fascination with death and the macabre, the antique jewelry and fashion followed suit. Prior to Albert’s death, the code dictated six months of deep mourning and another six months of half morning. Upon the Prince’s death, Queen Victoria restricted her household to full mourning for one year and half mourning for one year. Deep mourning customs dictated black and grey dresses made from crepe (a lusterless material) and very little jewelry.

To the relief of many, on March 10, 1863, Queen Victoria declared an end to the mourning period for England, making for the most colorful spectacle seen on English soil for two years. Despite her grand gesture, she remained heavily in mourning, purveying the ceremony from a private box shrouded in what Helen Rappaport terms her “widows weeds.” She also refused to lift the ban of half-mourning from the female members of the Household. Her daughters wore dresses of mauve, lilac, and grey.

If Princess Alexandra hadn’t come as “a breath of fresh air to blow away the mid-century cobwebs,” (Tisdall, 1954) the jewelry industry may have collapsed. Thankfully, after 1863, the jewelry industry turned toward the Princess for inspiration, and although white diamonds and pearls continued to dominate the jewelry scene into the early 1900s, jewelers began to introduce a little more romance and whimsy into their designs over the following decades.
1. Essortment. "Victorian Mourning Customs." Accessed June 13, 2012.
2. Spark Notes. "Queen Victoria: The Years of Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
3. Smith, S. E. "What was Victorian Mourning Like?" wiseGeek. Accessed June 13, 2012.
4. Britton, Natalya. "Victorian Death Worship and Literature." Literary Culture @ Suite101. June 29, 2012. Accessed June 13, 2012.
5. Burnett, Ann. "Perkin's Purple." Writer and Tutor, Ann Burnett. Accessed June 13, 2012.
6. Wikipedia. "Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
7. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2007.
8. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
9. Tisdall, E. E. P. Alexandra: Edward VII’s Unpredictable QueenNew York: J. Day Co., 1954.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Victorian Mourning Jewelry (Part 1)

Victorian Mourning Brooch
Photo Source: Vintage Jewellery Pictures

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

In 1861, following Prince Albert’s death, the hope-inspired jewelry designs and romantic customs of the Romantic Era gave way to pragmatic authoritarian rules and regulations about everything, including jewelry.

With the heavier social customs came heavier jewelry, as well as the institution of day and night jewelry. It was frowned upon to be seen during the day with glittery, ostentatious jewelry. The once frilly and colorful designs of the early Victorian years were replaced with subtler, yet heavier designs made from onyx, black glass, and jet (a form of fossilized driftwood).

Colored stones were strictly taboo, and colorless diamonds, found in abundance in Africa in 1867, fast became the stone of choice for evening wear. Though a little more flash was tolerated for night wear, designers began to draw their inspiration from the gothic, Etruscan, and ancient Italian architecture. The result: Darker, heavier pieces, such as the mourning brooch shown above.

For ten years, Victoria remained in seclusion, traveling privately between Balmoral and Windsor Castle. She came into public view only a handful of times during those years; first for the unveiling of a statue of Albert in 1863, second for a public ride through the streets of London in 1864, and finally, reluctantly, for the Opening of Parliament in 1866. Her life became fixated on death, and England’s fashion trendsetter remained in deep mourning for nearly a decade.
1. Essortment. "Victorian Mourning Customs." Accessed June 13, 2012.
2. Spark Notes. "Queen Victoria: The Years of Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
3. Smith, S. E. "What was Victorian Mourning Like?" wiseGeek. Accessed June 13, 2012.
4. Britton, Natalya. "Victorian Death Worship and Literature." Literary Culture @ Suite101. June 29, 2012. Accessed June 13, 2012.
5. Burnett, Ann. "Perkin's Purple." Writer and Tutor, Ann Burnett. Accessed June 13, 2012.
6. Wikipedia. "Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
7. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2007.
8. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
9. Tisdall, E. E. P. Alexandra: Edward VII’s Unpredictable Queen. New York: J. Day Co., 1954.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Peril of St. Edward's Crown

Blood and his cronies attemp to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671.
Illustration by Peter Jackson
Photo Source: Look and Learn
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Rumor has it that King Charles II hired Colonel Thomas Blood to swipe St. Edward's Crown, the Sceptre, and the Orb from Martin Tower in 1671. Having fallen on hard times, King Charles I indeed conceived of a way to augment the royal coffers, to open the Jewel House to public viewing for a small price. After detailed research, it appears that King Charles I was motivated more by amusement (or possibly threat of a different sort) than by perdition when he pardoned Colonel Blood of his crimes. It appears that Colonel Blood carefully planned and executed his failed attempt to steal the jewels with the help of a woman and three of his friends, Robert Parrot, Tom Hunt, and Richard Hallowell (Holloway).

In early April of 1671, Talbot Edwards and his wife invited Parson Blood and his ailing wife into their home in the Tower. As the Deputy Keeper's wife and daughter ministered to the parson's wife, the parson appraised his surroundings, taking note of those things which could be to his advantage in the swiping of the jewels.

After several return visits in disguise as the gentle parson, Blood gained Edwards' confidence to the point that he agreed to a betrothal meeting for his daughter with Blood's "nephew." For this most auspicious meeting, Blood invited his associates and Edwards invited his son. Waiting in the sitting room, Blood suggested that while they waited upon the women, he and his friends might like a tour of the Jewel House. Eager to please, the 77-year-old Deputy Keeper obliged only to find himself hooded, gagged, and bound on the floor.

While Hunt and Parrot beat the clamoring Edwards, Blood flattened the Crown and stuffed it in his cassock and then dropped the Orb down his breeches. Edwards now silent on the floor, stabbed and bludgeoned, allowed the other two men to work on sawing the Sceptre in two for easy concealment. At the sound of Edwards' son coming to the rescue, the two dropped the Sceptre to the floor, and the men fled the scene.

Blood took a shot at the yeomen at the Byward Tower, who dropped to the ground as if hit and allowed them to escape. They ran along the river, where Sentries alerted passersby near enough to take them down. Upon capture, Blood refused to speak to anyone but King Charles I, who he knew to be a man of great curiosity who appreciated intrigue. After a man-to-man chat, King Charles I surprised everyone by granting a pardon to Blood on all counts of treason, murder, and felonious act.

St. Edward's Crown, which had lost a pearl, a large diamond, and several smaller diamonds, was repaired and restored to the Tower along with the Orb and the Scepter. Talbot Edwards remained in service to the King as Deputy Keeper for another three years, though he was not well rewarded for his courageous efforts to stop Blood. He died three years later at age 80, possibly from ill care of the wounds sustained during the theft.
1. Castles. "Crown Jewels." Accessed June 22, 2012.
2. Castles. "Martin Tower." Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. De Ros, William Lennox. Digital edition of Memorials of the Tower of London. London: John Murray, 1866.
4. Photographers Resource. "Tower of London." Accessed June 22, 2012.
5. Wikipedia. "Thomas Blood." Accessed June 22, 2012.
6. Wikipedia. "Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom." Accessed June 22, 2012.
7. Smith, George. Edited by Leslie Stephen & Sidney Lee. The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 2. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1908.
8. Wikipedia. "Jewel House." Accessed June 22, 2012.
9. Dave. "How to Steal Scepter and Orb: Thank Offerings to the Curious." Madame Pickwick Art Blog. Posted September 7, 2010. Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Evolution of St. Edward's Crown

St. Edward's Crown
Photo Source: Cover Your Hair Blog

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Originally set as a gold circlet inset with imitation pearls and paste (cut glass), St. Edward’s Crown has seen multiple transformations in its many years. It was King Egbert (769/771 to 839), who first added ray points to the simple circlet in order to mimic of the styles of the eastern emperors of his day. The addition of pearl tips on the rays was credited to King Edward the Confessor (1003/1005 to 1066).

Though some historians write that William of Normandy (1028-1087) wore a simple circle flowery in lieu of St. Edward’s Crown, one historian, Francis Sandford, noted in his book A Genealogical History of the Kings and Queens of England (1066) that William’s seal featured him wearing the latter with the arches and the cross pattee.

William Rufus (1056-1100), son of William of Normandy, was reported to have worn the crown, having further enriched it with points. Later, Henry I (1068/1069 to 1135), added the fleur-di-lis, as it is seen on his great seal and coin.

“Maude”, really Empress Matilda of England (1102-1167), daughter of King Henry I, requested that her crown have points with leaves/flowers extending much higher than the points. During the two hundred years following her reign, fleur-di-lis were added once again in varying states, depending upon the “whim” of the sovereign of the day.

Upon his reign, Edward III (1312-1377) is credited with the addition of the cross pattee interspersed among the fleurs-di-lis, and his son Edward IV (1442-1483), is shown sitting with a crown closed by arches with a rim of fleurs-di-lis, alternating with crosses pattee, which rise from a circlet with four arching bars.

It appears that Edward V (1470-1483?) and Richard III (1452-1485) wore the crown in similar style. For Henry VII (1457-1509) and Henry VIII (1491-1547), the arches were embellished with pearls and enriched with precious stones and jewels, which was the prevailing fashion of the crown until the reign of William IV (1765-1837). For his coronation in 830, the arches were raised to a higher point by his order, transforming it into the crown we know today as St. Edward’s Crown.
1. Official Website of The British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012.
2. Rush, Kim. "St. Edward's Crown." UK/Irish History @ Suite101. Posted July 17, 2009. Accessed May 28, 2012.
3. Jewelry Gems About. "British Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012.
4. Robson, Thomas. The British Herald; or, Cabinet of armorial bearings of the Nobility. Sunderland: Turner & Marwood, 1830.
6. Wikipedia. Multiple entries on various kings and queens of England. Accessed June 12, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Lineage: Charles Lewis Tiffany

Charles Lewis Tiffany (r); Louis Comfort Tiffany (l)
Photo Source: San Francisco Sentinel

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Even today, Tiffany is a household name. The work of Louis Comfort Tiffany has seen peaks and valleys throughout the last hundred years or more. A brilliant artisan, a shrewd businessman, a man of legacy, Louis Comfort Tiffany stands apart, but not alone. Tiffany’s heritage includes men and women who paved the way for his grand success, who shaped him and shaped his destiny, and who literally influenced generations of luxury lines after him.

Tiffany’s heritage started with his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, who worked with partner John B. Young to found Tiffany and Young, a modest stationery and fancy goods store, in 1837. Known as the King of Diamonds, Charles Tiffany dared to profit from the loss of the European Royals. He and John Young (who was really the brawn behind the operation) bought diamonds in bulk from heads of state who lost their thrones in the tumultuous days of the late 1840s. They promptly turned around and sold these diamonds to the new breed of nobles: American businessmen.

These elite ties, however, were not the backbone of Charles Tiffany’s business strategy. In fact, it was his business acumen that secured Tiffany as a household name, and not just a name for the elite.

Charles Tiffany, a true democratic American, marketed his jewelry and those now famous Tiffany  vintage engagement rings not only to the very wealthy, but also to the average working classes. He made deals with the “kings” of society as well as with the “kings” of the sea, the men along the docks. His ingenious networking skills literally afforded him a place at any table.

Louis Comfort Tiffany did not inherit a mere shop front with an inventory. He inherited a way of life, a life of favor. And he did not squander it. In fact, he built on the foundation left to him by his father and established an empire that remains strong and stalwart even today.
1. Couldrey, Vivienne. The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Secaucus, New Jersey: Wellfleet Press: 1989, 8-27.
2. Masters Lodge, The. "Louis Comfort Tiffany." Accessed June 12, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

St. Edward's Sapphire

St. Edward's Sapphire
Photo Source: News Line
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The last of the famous stones set in the Imperial State Crown, St. Edward's Sapphire is another of England's treasures that somehow escaped the Cromwell destruction of 1649. This rose-cut blue sapphire crowns the uppermost cross patee (Maltese cross) in the State Crown. According to legend, Edward the Confessor, King of England from 1043 to 1066 AD, wore the sapphire in the ring until he gave it to a beggar along the road in Essex during the dedication of a church called Havering.

The king, enthralled with the festivities surrounding the new church's dedication ceremonies, stopped off to join in the celebration. During the procession, a "fair old man" requested alms of the king, who slid the only thing of value he carried off of his finger and gladly bestowed the sapphire ring to the old man, who thanked him and walked away.

Some years later, two pilgrims from England lost their way on a tour of the holy land. In great despair over being at the mercy of the wild animals of the night, they nearly gave up hope of rescue when at once they spotted coming toward them a company of men carrying two lights and dressed in white.

From behind them emerged a wizened man. They drew near to the company of men, intending to follow them, and as they approached the old man asked them where they were from and where they were heading.

Upon hearing the news that they were lost pilgrims from England, the old man comforted them and led them into a city where they were invited to dine with a group of men celebrating a feast. After a peaceful night's rest, the kind old man led them back to the road that would take them home.

Just before taking his leave, he stretched out his hand and gave them the king's sapphire ring, saying "I am John the Evangelist, and say ye unto Edward your king that I greet him right well, by the token that he gave to me this ring with his own hands at the hallowing of my church, which ring ye shall deliver to him again. And say ye to him that he dispose his goods, for within six months he shall be in the joy of heaven with me, where he shall have his reward for his chastity and for his good living. And dread ye not, for ye shall speed right well in your journey, and ye shall come home in short time safe and sound."

Upon their sure and swift return to England, the pilgrims delivered the message and the ring to the King, reporting all that St. John the Evangelist had told them. Six months later, on January 5, 1066, King Edward the Confessor died of natural causes and was buried in the chapel he established, Westminster Abbey.

1. Younghusband, George John and Cyril Davenport. The crown jewels of England. Cassell and Company, Ltd: London, 1919.
2. Catholic Forum. "The Golden Legend: The Life of Saint Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 19, 2012.
3. BBC Religions. "Saint Edward the Confessor." Last modified July 31, 2009.
4. Wikipedia. "Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 19, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Stuart Sapphire (Part 3)

Marchioness Elizabeth Conyngham, circa 1800
Photo Source: Wikipedia

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

For nearly 100 years, the sapphire resided in France until the Cardinal of York died in 1807. Upon his death, the Prince of Wales, George IV, dispatched Angioli Bonelli to collect from France any remaining records relating to the Stuart household.

The story goes that along his travels, Mr. Bonelli encountered a Venetian merchant claiming that a large blue sapphire in his possession had once belonged to the Stuart Crown. Bonelli purchased the sapphire (believed to be the Stuart Sapphire) and brought it back to England, along with other Stuart treasure, on behalf of the Cardinal’s only living and rightful heir, King George III. (1)

Three years later, in 1810, George III was declared unfit to rule as King. His son, George IV, assumed the position of Crown Regent, and with the title came the treasure. C. Rachel Jones writes that in 1814, George IV gave the Stuart Sapphire to his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales.

She goes on to relate that upon the unfortunate death of the Princess of Wales, her father rescinded the gift of the Stuart Sapphire from his son-in-law, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, and adorned one of his mistresses, the Marchioness of Conyngham, “on whose beautiful and naughty head it sparkled at the ball at Devonshire House in 1821.” (5)

Though her historical account of the life of Princess Charlotte is thorough and entertaining, Ms. Jones’ book may not serve as an entirely credible account. If this account has any bearing of truth, the gemstone remained in the Countesses’ possession until her death in 1861, at which time it was returned to the Crown.

In 1837, the Stuart Sapphire was mounted in the front of the band of the Imperial State Crown below the Black Prince’s Ruby, for Queen Victoria’s coronation. However, when the Imperial Crown was remade in 1937, the Cullinan II displaced the Sapphire to its current position directly opposite the Cullinan II on the backside of the crown.

1. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 12, 2012.
2. Famous Diamonds. "The Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 12, 2012.
3. History on the Net. "The Stuart Monarchs-1603-1714." Accessed June 12, 2012.
4. Younghusband, George John. The Jewel House. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1921.
5. Jones, C. Rachel. The Princess Charlotte of Wales. London: Wyman & Sons, 1885.
6. Wikipedia. "House of Hanover." Accessed June 12, 2012.
7. Wikipedia. "Jacobite succession." Accessed June 12, 2012.
8. Wikipedia. "George IV of the United Kingdom." Accessed June 12, 2012.
9. Wikipedia. "Henry Benedict Stuart." Accessed June 12, 2012.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Stuart Sapphire (Part 2)

This is a Stuart Ring sporting Charles II's royal cypher
Photo Source: The Hairpin
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

After Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1648, two years of anarchy presided over the British Isles until Parliament reestablished its rule. Their first order of business was to invite Charles II to return from his exile in France to reign as King. The Stuarts were back on the throne, and Charles II had the Stuart Sapphire mounted into his crown.

In 1685, Charles II’s death left the throne open for his brother, James II. It is unclear exactly what James II did with the sapphire, but it was removed from the crown and secreted away somewhere for a few years.

Despite his conversion to Roman Catholocism (which caused him to lose his prior title as Lord High Admiral), James II somehow managed to hold the Crown for three years before his position was finally recalled by Parliament. He departed for France in 1688 with the Stuart Sapphire in tow, quite possibly hidden in one of his pockets.

Upon his death in 1701, the gem passed to his son, Charles Edward, who in turn gave it to his son, Henry Benedict Stuart, the Cardinal of York. The Stuart reign ended with the death of Queen Anne in 1714, and the Hanovers took the throne of England with the ascension of George I.
1. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 12, 2012.
2. Famous Diamonds. "The Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 12, 2012.
3. History on the Net. "The Stuart Monarchs-1603-1714." Accessed June 12, 2012.
4. Younghusband, George John. The Jewel House. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1921.
5. Jones, C. Rachel. The Princess Charlotte of Wales. London: Wyman & Sons, 1885.
6. Wikipedia. "House of Hanover." Accessed June 12, 2012.
7. Wikipedia. "Jacobite succession." Accessed June 12, 2012.
8. Wikipedia. "George IV of the United Kingdom." Accessed June 12, 2012.
9. Wikipedia. "Henry Benedict Stuart." Accessed June 12, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Stuart Sapphire (Part 1)

Stuart Sapphire
Photo Source: Talking Blue Blog
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Opposite the Cullinan II on the back of the band, the Stuart Sapphire rests beneath a cross pattee. This beautiful 1-1/2- by 1-inch brilliant blue oval gemstone hails from the famed Stuart Monarchy of England and Scotland. The Stuarts reigned uncontested from 1603, under James I, to 1649, under Charles I.

James I was the Protestant of Protestants. His conviction that he was answerable to God alone and was above the law led him to make some radical decisions that have resounding effects even today. Under his rule, Puritan reformers were dismissed and Catholics were forbidden from attending Mass. He also introduced Protestants to Northern Ireland. He did attempt to maintain peace between England and the other European countries, but he was not favored by Parliament and his decisions left the country in debt at his death.

He was succeeded by his son, Charles I, who swiftly persuaded Parliament to grant him finances to go to war with Spain and France. By 1629, he had completely lost favor with Parliament, and believing, as his father did, that he was above the law he dismissed Parliament and ruled England as a pure monarchy until he was forced to recall Parliament in 1639. Ten years later, after inciting a Civil War in England, his rule was overthrown and he was executed.

It is here where the Stuart Sapphire’s unique story unfolds. As a result of this Civil War and the execution of the reigning monarch, a new republic rose in an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. With enough civil unrest, Oliver Cromwell rose to defend the new republic. Desperately in need of money, he dispatched with nearly the entire crown treasury. He sold most of the gemstones and melted all the gold to sell to the highest bidder. However, somehow the Stuart Sapphire escaped this assault on England’s prize possessions, likely secreted away by Charles II, who returned from exile in France after Cromwell’s death in 1660 and regained his rightful place upon the throne.
1. Famous Diamonds. "The Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Internet Stones. "Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 11, 2012.
3. Wikipedia. "Stuart period." Accessed June 11, 2012.
4. History on the Net. "The Stuart Monarchs-1603-1714." Accessed June 11, 2012.
5. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Cullinan II Diamond

Cullinan II Diamond
Photo Source: The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Just beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby, nestled in the band of the Imperial State Crown, rests the Cullinan II, the fourth-largest polished diamond in the world. Called the Lesser (Second) Star of Africa (after its larger sister diamond which is affixed as the crowning jewel of the British Royal Scepter), the Cullinan II was cut from the largest diamond in the world, which was found in Africa in 1905.

The original stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine in which it was found. It weighed in at 3025 carats and was believed to be a fragment of an even larger stone that has yet to be found.

The Cullinan II was one of nine faceted diamonds that were cut by Asschers of Amsterdam from the mammoth gemstone at the bequest of Edward VII, who received the massive diamond as a birthday gift from the Transvaal Government in 1907. The diamond served as a gift of truce between South Africa and Great Britain after the Boers War.

Cut in cushion fashion, the Cullinan II was set into the Imperial State Crown in 1937, when the crown was remade for George VI. It is designed with two loops so it can be worn as a brooch, as well. Though Queen Elizabeth II prefers the Cullinan III and IV brooch, it is reported that prior queens wore the larger Cullinan I and II in brooch form. There are photos of Queen Mary wearing this rather large brooch, and rumor has it that Queen Alexandra also wore this large brooch in conjunction with the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
1. Jamison, Jamie. "The Exceptionally Noteworthy Gemstones of the British Regalia." GO 340 Project. Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Wikipedia. "Cullinan Diamond." Accessed June 11, 2012.
3. Faded Star of Africa, The. "The Diamond." Accessed June 11, 2012.
4. Cristina. "The Cullinan II." The Jewelry Blog. October 3. Accessed June 11, 2012.
5. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.
6. Royal Magazin. "Die kleineren Cullinan Broschen." Accessed June 11, 2012.
7. Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor Blog, The. "The Cullinans, Part 1: The Big Stars of Africa." Posted April 22, 2012. Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Black Prince’s Ruby

Black Prince's Ruby
Photo Source: Intec2000
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Though definitely not the most beautiful of gems, the Black Prince’s Ruby has a history which has bestowed upon it incalculable value and prominence in the Imperial State Crown. Although it’s value is likely greater than most known rubies, the Black Prince’s Ruby is not actually a ruby. Reported to have been mined from the balas ruby mines near Afghanistan, this blood-red gemstone is actually a spinel (magnesium aluminum oxide).

Up until the 18th century, spinels and rubies were considered interchangeable in name and value. However, with the scientific understanding of the chemical differences between the two, rubies moved into a class of their own.

The Black Prince’s Ruby first surfaced in Spain in the 14th century, where several minor kings (most of them brothers) were engaged in combat against one another. The fighting was vicious, and victory was short-lived for each one of them.

The famous stone is documented to have begun its journey to the Tower of London in the possession of Abu Said in Spain, who lost it to his brother Don Pedro in what sounds like an ambush. Soon after his victory over Abu Said, Don Pedro fled (with the gemstone) from another brother, Henry, to Bordeaux. In Bordeaux, he engaged the assistance of Edward of Woodstock, who was more than happy to help Don Pedro defeat Henry in exchange for treasure, including the Ruby.

It was this same Edward of Woodstock from whom the stone inherited its now-famous name. Though he does not give an explanation, other than that “some writers name him” such, Edward’s nickname, The Black Prince, was first documented by Richard Grafton in his book titled, Chronicle of England.

The gem seems to have gone underground for the next fifty years, only to reappear in yet another king’s possession, this time Henry V of England. Henry mounted the gemstone in his battle helmet, and although he lost part of his crown and nearly his head, he and the Ruby remained firmly established in England in 1415.

In subsequent years, the Ruby passed through the hands of several kings and should have met its doom when Cromwell melted down and sold the entire royal treasury after the execution of Charles I in 1649. However, it is reported that Charles I sold the gem before this most destructive event.

Though the amount he sold it for is in dispute, it resurfaced in 1660, when an unknown party sold it to Charles II. The gem narrowly escaped robbery and fire in subsequent years and has resided in several different crowns over the years. In 1821, it was set into the Imperial State Crown for George IV’s coronation and resides there to this day.
1. Grafton, Richard. Grafton’s Chronicle; or, History of England. London: J. Johnson, et. al., 1809.
2. Bowersox, Gary W. and Bonita E. Chamberlin, Ph. D. Gemstones of Afghanistan. Tucson: Geoscience Press, Inc., 1995.
3. Oldershaw, Cally. Firefly Guide to Gems. Toronto: Firefly Books Ltd., 2003.
4. Hughes, Richard. Ruby & Sapphire. Bangkok, Thailand: RWH Publishing, 1997.
5. Wikipedia. "Spinel." Accessed June 11, 2012.
6. Mineral Gallery. "The Mineral Spinel." Accessed June 11, 2012.
7. Wikipedia. "Black Prince's Ruby." Accessed June 11, 2012.'s_Ruby.
8. Ferrebee, Wayne. "The Black Prince's Ruby." ferrebeekeeper blog. Posted September 27, 2010. Accessed June 11, 2012.
9. Ruby-Sapphire. "The Black Prince's Ruby." Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prominent Features of the Imperial State Crown

Queen Elizabeth II wears State Imperial Crown
at the State Opening of Parliament.
Photo Credit: The Royal Firm
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

In 1937, the Imperial State Crown had weakened and fallen into disrepair from its constant use. That year it was remade, and in its current state is home to over 3,000 diamonds, as well as many other precious gems including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls. It features four fleur-di-lis with rubies as centerpieces, alternating with four cross pattee, three of which are inlaid with centerpiece emeralds. From these four crosses rise diamond-paved half-arches accented with pearl acorns, which commence at a diamond-studded monde on which a Maltese cross rests regally.

This uppermost cross has as its centerpiece the first of four of the most famous gemstones in the British Collection, St. Edward's Sapphire. Moving down the arch from the monde, we come to the second famous gemstone, the Black Prince’s Ruby. This infamous spinel serves as the centerpiece for the central cross pattee.

The band of the Imperial State Crown features a delicate, nearly floral design in which the central pieces are alternating emeralds and sapphires, two of which also claim the title of famous gemstones. Just beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby rests the Cullinan II, the fourth-largest polished diamond in the world. Finally, opposite the Cullinan II on the back of the band, the Stuart Sapphire rests beneath a cross pattee.

Clearly priceless in its historical significance, the Imperial State Crown remains a piece of the British Regalia (the coronation ceremony jewels). Traditionally, it is used during the coronation ceremony and historically was worn by the Sovereign for the Opening of Parliament each year. However, unless she wears two different crowns for different parts of the ceremony, it appears that Queen Elizabeth II has favored the George IV State Diadem for the Opening of Parliament.
1. Official Website of the British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Wikipedia. "Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.
3. Royal Exhibitions. "St Edward's Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy