Friday, May 30, 2014

Mastery of Design: Queen Victoria’s Portrait Bracelet, 1839

Gold Serpent Bracelet with Enamel Portrait of
Queen Victoria
Commissioned by the Queen, 1839
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell
Gold, Diamonds, Rubies, Enamel
The Royal Collection

Over a period of several years, Queen Victoria had commissioned a set of bracelets from the Royal Jewelers at Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. These bracelets—gold, set with rubies (for passion), diamonds (for eternity) and a serptentine design (to suggest “wisdom”)—all featured enamel portraits of Queen Victoria copied by hand by Henry Pierce Bone after the Coronation portrait by George Hayter. The only difference was that Victoria ordered that she not be wearing the Imperial Crown in the enamel portraits on the bracelets since they were to be given as personal gifts.

Bracelet ReverseThe Royal Collection
This is one of those bracelets—one of the originals, in fact, which is housed in the Royal Collection. The reverse of the bracelet shows the queen’s insignia “V.R.” for Victoria Regina and the date of July, 1839. This bracelet, it is believed, was given as a special gift by the queen to her mother, The Duchess of Kent. 

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