Sunday, July 27, 2008

Imperial Rubies

One of the most beautiful ruby parures was originally owned by
Marie Alexandrovna, the Duchess of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-
Gotha. Only daughter of Tsar Alexandar II of Russia, Marie
Alexandrovna was used to having the best of everything.
Her jewelry collection was superb and the bridal gifts from
her father were no exception.

Created by Bolin and given in 1874, the year of her marriage to
Prince Alfred, the parure consisted of a lotus-motif tiara, a
devant de corsage and a sumptuous necklace. As for the other
pieces shown, I am personally not certain of the background of
the three separate pieces, pendant earrings and one lone cluster.

The Duchess of Edinburgh wore her rubies for the coronation
festivities of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. Here she is
photographed wearing the devant de corsage and necklace.
There seems to have never been pictures of Marie Alexandrovna
wearing the tiara, although she had another ruby tiara in
her collection.

From the Duchess of Edinburgh, the parure went to her daughter
Alexandra, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. If anyone recalls
seeing pictures of the princess wearing her mother's jewels,
let me know because I have yet to see one. The last wearer of
the set was Princess Margarita of Greece, Princess Alexandra's
daughter-in-law. She wore the tiara to the 1962 wedding of
Juan Carlos of Spain and Sofia of Greece, as well as another
wedding in the 1970's (pictured). The princess died in 1981
and her jewels were auctioned off in 1989.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ruby Red

It has been a long while since I last posted. Since it is still July,
I thought about posting some things about rubies. Here is what I posted at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board.

The Greek ruby parure consists of a tiara in the naturalistic design
of olive fruits and leaves, a pair of pendant earrings, a necklace,
and two brooches.

Personally I do not know which pieces made up the original parure.
From this postcard picture of Queen Olga, born a Grand Duchess of
Russia, we can see the tiara and a choker necklace. I think there
was a pendant brooch, but since I cannot locate the bigger picture,
I can only speculate.

Bjarne Steen Jensen was kind enough to post a response to my initial
posting. Part of the parure may well have been a gift from King
George I to his wife, but given the financial state of the Greek
royal family at that time, the rest could have come from Russia.

I had thought the tiara altered, but Bjarne reassured us that it had
not. Rather, the tiara's leaves could be moved a little.

According to Bjarne, the rubies were left to Prince Nikolaos by Queen Olga. After his death, his widow, the former Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, presented the parure to Queen Frederika. In turn the then dowager queen gifted the set to her newly married daughter-in-law, Queen Anne-Marie.

From Queen Frederika's picture we can see that the necklace has been
shortened. Two pendants are gone, and so are several links. The color
of the rubies is a dark pinkish red that can be most likely categorized
as the color of pigeon's blood. Personally I like rubies that are
bright red or a rich red like human blood, since I have never seen
the blood of a pigeon. As for point of origination, it is probably Burma.