Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Cambridge Emeralds

The Vladimir Tiara, 1921The Royal Collection

Like most famous jewels, the Cambridge Emeralds have a long and fascinating history. Originally part of a collection of magnificent jewels belonging to Indian royalty, a suite of flawless emeralds came into British hands and was auctioned off at a charity ball in 1818. 

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge,
The Duchess of Teck and Mother of
Queen Mary wearing the famed
The winner was The Duchess of Cambridge, the grandmother of Queen Mary. Eventually (and with some difficulty which is the stuff of much debate and dubious scandal), Mary managed to get hold of the emeralds and took no time in having them set into both new and existing pieces of jewelry.

Queen Mary wearing the parure

A Diamond Brooch
with Two of the Cambridge Emeralds
The Royal Collection
Most notably, Queen Mary had a portion of the Cambridge Emeralds installed in the newly acquired Vladimir Tiara—once the crown of Grand Duchess Vladimir, aunt of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Mary ordered that the original hanging pearls in the tiara be replaced with fifteen of the celebrated Cambridge Emeralds. I should add that the pearls were retained and can be replaced in the tiara when emeralds just won’t do.

Many of the other emeralds were used in a variety of brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings designed by the Royal Jewelers at Garrards. In almost all cases, the emeralds are detachable from their settings so that other stones can be fitted depending on the color of the gown. That was rather an economical idea of Queen Mary. Wasn’t it? 

The Cambridge Emeralds in their various settings are not part of the Crown Jewels, but rather are the personal property of Her Majesty, the Queen and are on display as part of The Royal Collection. Queen Elizabeth II often wears two of the brooches which were set with the Cambridge Emeralds and has worn the Vladimir Tiara on special occasions. Queen Mary would be proud.

Earrings Featuring the Cambridge EmeraldsThe Royal Collection

The Princess of Wales wore the choker as a choker and....

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