On Tuesday 28 February 2012, the famous auction house Sotheby’s announced it will auction one of the world’s most famous gems: the “Beau Sancy”, a 35-carat pear-shaped diamond once worn by Maria de’Medici at her coronation in 1610.
The image that generally comes to mind when we think of our royals usually includes impressive and (mostly) attractive jewels. However, there are some jewels that don’t fit that category but are decidedly eccentric, not to say downright creepy.
Dame Margaret Helen McEwan Anderson Greville was a well-known figure in British Society until her death in 1942. She was born in 1863 and was heiress to the multi-million pound McEwan brewery fortune. In 1891 she married the Honorable Ronald Henry Fulke Greville and became a much sought-after and admired hostess at their home, Polesden Lacey, which had originally belonged to her father. It was here at this quiet estate that TRH The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) honeymooned. The friendship between Mrs Greville and the royal couple continued, and Princess Margaret Rose was named in her honor.
Without doubt overshadowed by emeralds, the peridot is a woefully underappreciated stone in royal collections, making few appearances. The startling green stone with golden undertones has been used in jewelry since the Ancient Romans and Egyptians; its unique green shade has been referred to as the “Emerald of the Evening” and was often confused with emeralds, most notably in The Shrine of the Three Magi.
The fiery ruby is well represented in royal circles and is one of the most highly prized and sought-after gemstones. It is a stone that in ancient times was said to possess magical powers and was often worn as a talisman to protect the wearer from evil. The ruby is the red variety of corundum, whose other colors (particularly blue) are known as sapphire. It is the second hardest mineral following the diamond. Rubies can be found in a variety of hues, from orange-red to purple-hued red; however the most valuable rubies are true pigeon-blood red. Large rubies are rare (unlike sapphires) and quite valuable—in addition to being, quite simply, majestic.
Pearls, the symbol of power, purity, and innocence, are abundantly represented in all of the royal houses, and can often be traced through several generations. These older, historic sets of pearls are natural pearls, and thus are very rare and very valuable.
It is only fitting that the emerald, with its deep green hue, is the birthstone for the month of May, when Spring is at her finest, with varying shades of green coming together to create a glorious landscape. Emeralds are found all over the world, but it is actually considered a rare and valuable stone because high-quality emeralds are not plentiful.
In anticipation of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on Friday, many royal jewel enthusiasts are eager to see which tiara she will be wearing when she says “I will”, and the discussion has centered on various tiaras, from the Spencer family tiara to various tiaras not seen in decades, to flowers in place of a tiara. This blog looks at the jewels worn by previous British brides.
Diamonds are as royal a stone as one can get. They grace all forms of jewelry and are emblematic of royalty. Diamonds capture and reflect light with astonishing beauty, riveting the eye. They are the hardest substance found in nature and are considered symbols of strength. What more appropriate stone for the monarchies could there be? It would be impossible to effectively discuss each and every diamond owned by the royal houses because the collections of each house are, quite simply put, impressive. In the interest of simplicity, this month’s birthstone will discuss some of the “diamond only” pieces worn by the British royals that are particular favorites of mine.
The delightful aquamarine, a blue form of beryl, is the birthstone for the month of March. This stone can is found in varying shades, from a colorless pale blue to a deep blue-green. It is a relatively common gemstone, and can be found as large, almost completely flawless crystals. The deeper the shade of blue, the more valuable the stone. The name “aquamarine” comes from the Latin words for “water” and “sea”, and it is said that the stone was first seen in the chests of mermaids.