In last week's blog, we took a look at some of the names behind the antique jewelry of the V&A. This week, we take a dive into the magnificent collections of the generous donors of the British Museum. From important art historians and collectors who dedicated their lives to the stories and meanings behind antique jewelry, to curiosity hunters who scoured Europe in their attempts to find antique treasures.



Two-color gold and silver brooch in the form of a vulture fighting a snake twined around a branch, both vulture and snake are pavé-set with turquoises and pearls with eyes of cabochon rubies. French, c.1860. From the Hull Grundy Gift - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Anne Hull Grundy

Anne Hull Grundy (1926–1984) is described by the British Museum as one of the 20th century's most significant jewelry collectors. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Grundy and her family - a Jewish banking and manufacturing family - were forced to flee to England in 1933, when the National Socialist government (The Nazis) took power in Germany. They re-established their family business in Northampton with great success, placing Anne Hull Grundy in the perfect position to begin collecting.


Starting at the age of 11, Anne Hull Grundy developed a keen interest in antique jewelry. After seeing in a catalog that the British Museum's jewelry collection only went up to the 1700s, Grundy dedicated herself to acquiring 18th and 19th-century objects to fill the gap; from Victorian pieces with hidden messages to lovingly and expertly hand-crafted works of goldsmithing. In 1978, she gifted her collection of over 900 items of jewelry to the Museum.


Early 19th-century English jewels. Top left: A marquise-shaped pendant with seed-pearls, in the form of two birds drinking at a fountain, on a background of blue enamel or glass, bordered with diamonds set in silver, inscribed in French, 'l'amour et l'amitie' (love and friendship). Top middle: Oval gold brooch with seed pearls, in the form of a winged cupid with a lamb, on a background of blue enamel or glass with a pearl border. Inscribed in French, 'Taisez vous' (be quiet). Top right: Gold brooch in the form of a padlock set with pearls and with a dark blue enameled center. Middle left: Gold brooch set with pearls and pink topazes with heart, padlock, and key pendants. Middle right: Bloomed gold brooch in the form of a hand holding a pearl-bordered heart with an inset compartment containing hair and a gold graintille 'key' pendant. Bottom: Gold brooch in the form of a key with diamonds set in silver and a hair compartment in the bow, and a chain from which hang two heart pendants set with a ruby and turquoise. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Miniature English jewels c.1826-1875. Clockwise from top left: Gold bracelet with a double chain and set with a garnet surrounded by small pearls; Enameled gold bracelet with articulated links in the form of a snake, set with diamonds and rubies; Gold bracelet with a flexible band and set with a turquoise surrounded by diamonds; Gold brooch in the form of a padlock and key set with diamonds and sapphires; Brooch in the form of a flower-spray, gold, set with seed-pearls and turquoise.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



English 18th-century bracelet in facet-cut steel with a beaded border, one of pair forming a necklace. It is suggested that steel bracelets like this would have been worn mounted on silk to prevent the wearer’s wrists being scratched. - © The Trustees of the British Museum




Antique Aigrettes


A French aigrette in the form of a flower spray with a trembler insect. Silver-gilt with a dished closed-back and set with flat-cut garnets. c.1700-1725.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Three English aigrettes set with flat-cut garnets, c.1726-1775. Left: Aigrette in the form of a flower spray, with trembler bird. Silver-gilt with dished closed-back. Middle: Aigrette in the form of flowers and a feather tied with a bow and with a trembler butterfly. Gold with a dished closed-back. Right: Aigrette in the form of a spray of flowers, tied with a bow, with a trembler bird. Silver-gilt with a dished closed-back.

All © The Trustees of the British Museum



Hair ornament in form of a flower spray with chased silver leaves and gold settings. With a flat-cast back and set with foiled diamonds, four pendant drop-shaped diamonds. Made in the USSR, c.1700-1730. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Three Italian aigrettes. Left: in the form of a ribbon-tied flower spray with a peacock's feather. Silver & gold, closed-back, set with amethysts and colorless zircons, c.1726-1775. Middle: in the form of a crescent with a trembler spray of flowers. Silver and gold with a closed-back and set with diamonds, c.1770. Right: 18th-century, in the form of a flower-filled cornucopia. Silver, silver-gilt, and gold, set with diamonds. All © The Trustees of the British Museum



A Spanish or Portuguese aigrette in the form of a ribbon-tied flower spray. Silver, set with rose and table-cut diamonds and calibré-cut emeralds. The emerald in the large central flower has a screw fitting at the back for a hair pin. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



An English early 19th-century aigrette in the form of a ribbon-tied sheaf of wheat-ears. Silver and gold, set with diamonds. Ears of wheat became a prominent neoclassical motif and symbol of Empire in the early 19th-century, popularized by Empress Josephine of France and the subsequent Empress, Marie-Louise, who commissioned Nitot to create 150 stalks of wheat to adorn her gown and hair, which would form part of the Crown Jewels. Queen Victoria also had several wheat-ear brooches and pieces of jewelry.

© The Trustees of the British Museum




Neoclassical Pieces


A selection of cameos from the collection, c.1800-1900. Top left: Gold pendant set with a shell cameo of Cupid and Psyche, with applied ivy-leaf ornament, Italy & England. Top middle: Enameled gold brooch bordered with diamonds and pearls and set with an onyx cameo of a profile portrait of Alexander the Great(?), Italy & France. Top right: Engraved and enameled gold brooch surmounted by a bow and set with a sardonyx cameo of a helmeted female warrior, the Minerva of Aspasios, Italy & England. Bottom left: Gold brooch with a central sapphire cameo head of Medusa in a heavy ropework setting bordered with pearls, each stopped with minute cabochon rubies. Italy, made by Castellani. Bottom right: Gold brooch set with a malachite cameo of 'Night', a winged female bearing two sleeping children, Italy, made by Bertel Thorvaldsen. - All © The Trustees of the British Museum



Miniature necklace with gold links and set with twenty-nine shell cameos of animals, birds, and cupids, in an antique manner, set in gold turned wirework and bordered with seed-pearls. In the original leather case, which at one time also contained a pair of earrings. Naples, c.1800. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Two 19th-century Italian neoclassical carved-coral pieces. Left: A bracelet depicting the vine-wreathed head of Bacchus with gold mounts and panther-headed terminals, made in Naples. Right: A bracelet of cupids reclining amidst flowers, c.1840. - Both © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Gold archaeological style bracelet with applied scrolls of filigree on the clasp and hinged vertical rods separating three onyx cameos. The largest central cameo is a signed head of Medusa, the others are the classical heads of Venus and Hymen. Made by Tommaso Saulini, Rome, c.1850. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Italian 19th-century gold necklace with 10 cameos in collet settings united by fine chains depicting mythological scenes, episodes of the story of Venus, and a scene from the history of the Trojan War. The cameos are shell-backed with red-stained gypsum to imitate pink quartz.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Necklace of a woven gold chain with five pendants set with coral cameos, alternating with four coral rod and bead pendants and coral bead spacers. The cameos are carved in high relief with the female heads of seasons, their gold settings are flanked by a single gold bead with a beaded triangle below. Made by Carlo Giuliano, Italy & London, c.1860-1880 (cameo), c.1870-1878 (setting). © The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold bracelet with a flat band of woven mesh and five graduated gemstone intaglios in ropework settings, linked by pairs of flower-heads. From left to right: sapphire, cornelian, amethyst, bloodstone, and chalcedony, all engraved with heads in a neo-classical style including two helmeted heads and a Hercules. Each length of chain ends in a box with five loops of twisted wire. Italian, c.1870. © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Oxidized silver and gold demi-parure of a pendant and a pair of earrings. The pendant with a full relief figure of a drinking cupid, seated in front of shell-niche, bordered with beading and wirework and pierced scrollwork ornament. The earrings with cupids sitting on swings with shell motifs and pendant beads. Made by Niccola Marchesini, Italy, c.1870. - © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Gold brooch-pendant with filigree enamel, In the centre is an oval jasper intaglio of a laureate male head in profile inscribed in Greek characters (SKYL) with a border of ropework and roundels of blue enamel surrounded by black palmettes. The rectangular frame is ornamented with alternate blue and white enamel roundels while the four surrounding lobes are ornamented with filigree enamel palmettes and scrolls. At the back is a hair compartment. Italy & England, c.1860-70. © The Trustees of the British Museum.





Floral Motifs in Antique Jewelry


Hair-pin ornament in the form of an open flower. Silver with a trembler center and closed-back. The petals are of emeralds, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and topazes, and the large central emerald is bordered with diamonds and sapphires. France, c.1770. - © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Three-colour gold tiara with swags of leaves and flowers surmounted by a row of large flowers formed by clusters of turquoises surrounded by cannetille work with a small diamond in the center. It has been converted from a frontlet ornament. French or Italian, c.1805 or c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Various antique English floral gold brooches from 1826-1875. Including wild roses and convolvulus sprays carved from shell, a spray of leaves and fruit in coral, an orange blossom spray of porcelain, and orange-blossom sprays with shell petals and coral buds. Queen Victoria made orange blossom very popular by wearing real orange blossom in her hair and on her bodice for her wedding, and Albert gifted her many orange blossom pieces of jewelry over his lifetime. © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Gold hair ornament set with briolette-cut garnet drops and pearls, Austria, c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Antique English forget-me-not jewels, c.1830-40. Top row: Gold demi-parure of a brooch and earrings set with turquoises and small diamonds in the form of forget-me-not sprays. Middle row: Two-colour gold demi-parure of a brooch and earrings set with turquoises. The brooch with a yellow gold bird with red wings and tail on a forget-me-not spray; The earrings are forget-me-not sprays with gold leaves. Bottom left: Two-colour gold pendant set with turquoises in the form of a forget-me-not spray with a bow and crossed arrows. Bottom right: Gold brooch set with turquoises in the form of a forget-me-not spray. © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Parure of necklace, brooch, bracelet, and earrings with flat gold link chains and chased two-colour gold set with turquoises in the form of fruiting vines and forget-me-nots. London, c.1837-1846. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Bloomed and chased gold parure of necklace, brooch, and earrings set with seed pearls in the form of vine leaves and bunches of grapes. In the original leather case, lined with blue velvet. Italy, c.1840.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Left: Chased two-colour gold brooch set with carved amethysts in the form of a fruiting mulberry with an enameled gold ladybird on one leaf. Black mulberry means 'I will not survive you', and the use of amethyst as a darker stone than most may suggest its purpose as a mourning jewel. English, c1840. Right: Bloomed and chased two-colour gold brooch set with cornelian beads in the form of a red-currant spray. Austrian, c.1840. Brooches of exactly this type are shown worn in the hair in a portrait of a lady by Friedrich Wassmann, 1840, and painted in the Austrian Tyrol. - © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Antique English brooches in the form of sprays of convolvulus, c.1840. One of chased and polished two-color gold, set with rubies, the other two of chased and polished yellow gold set with rubies and turquoises in the form of ribbon-tied sprays of convolvulus and forget-me-nots.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Above: a bloomed and chased gold demi-parure of a brooch and ear-rings in the form of sprays of violets with tinted ivory flowers. In the original leather case, labelled inside the silk lining of the lid. England, 1850. Below: 3 chased two-colour gold brooches set with a combination of amethysts, topazes, pearls, and turquoises in the form of pansy flowers, England, c.1840-50. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Bloomed and chased three-colour gold hair or corsage ornament set with diamonds in the form of a large spray of mixed flowers including pansies and green petals and a diamond-set butterfly mounted on a trembler spring. English, c.1850. - © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Bloomed and chased two-color gold tiara set with round and leaf-shaped cabochon garnets in the form of a half circlet of flowers and leaves. England, c.1850. © The Trustees of the British Museum



A tiara in three pieces in the form of branches of oak leaves and acorns. Silver and gold, open-back, set with diamonds and convertible to a brooch or to use as comb-mounts. In the original case are also two tortoise-shell combs and gold frames for the tiara and brooch. The lid of the case is stamped with a Viscount's coronet and the initials 'MP'. Made by: Hunt & Roskell England, c.1855. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Bloomed and chased two-colour gold brooch set with emeralds and pearls in the form of a spray of lily of the valley and wheat-ears, tied with a ribbon bow. In the original leather case labeled on the silk lining of the lid. Made by M Emanuel & Sons, England, c.1850. In the language of flowers, the lily of the valley symbolized the 'return of happiness' and wheat stood for 'prosperity'.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A demi-parure of earrings and 3 brooches of chased gold in the form of bunches of bulrushes and leaves, the heads pavé-set with turquoise. England, c.1860. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Two English brooches, c.1860. Left: Chased two-color gold brooch set with almandine garnets and pearls in the form of a flower spray. Right: Chased two-color gold brooch set with almandine garnets and chrysoberyls in the form of a flower spray. - © The Trustees of the British Museum.



Gold brooch-pendant set with an oval panel of hardstone inlay or pietra dura depicting a bunch of pansies. The gold ropework border is in 'archaeological style' with a single thread of twisted wire decorating a detachable pendant loop. A hinged glass-covered compartment in the reverse. Florence, c.1850-70. In the Victorian language of sentiment, pansies stood for 'pensées' (thoughts, or ‘I think of you’). © The Trustees of the British Museum




Antique Animal Jewelry


Chased gold brooch with a heraldic crest: a fox sejant upon a 'chapeau'. The fox holds a chain with a pendant heart-shaped compartment for hair. England, c.1820.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A stunning gold swivel ouroboros memorial ring, the bezel containing miniature gold medallion under glass with relief head of Frederick Duke of York, framed by a black cross-hatched enamel ouroboros with a red enamel eye; shoulders with foliate ornament in relief. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Antique German/Swiss carved ivory jewels from the workshop of Count von Erbach-Erbach, c.1830-60. Including a brooch with three horses inside a border of oak twigs, a brooch with a stag and three deer under a tree in a border of scrolling leaf ornament, a stag and two deer beneath trees, and a demi-parure of earrings and a brooch featuring deer within borders of scrolls and leaves. © The Trustees of the British Museum



An equine demi-parure in carved and pierced ivory of horse's heads with cabochon ruby eyes and a border of oak leaves. From the workshop of Count von Erbach-Erbach, c.1830-60. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Chased two-color brooch set with rubies and pearls and gold grain work in the form of a peacock with a spread tail. Made in India or England, c.1830. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Two antique French dragon brooches. Left: Cast and chased gold brooch-pendant in the form of two dragons back to back, with entwined tails, set in the center with a cabochon sapphire. From the workshop of Messrs J Pinard, Paris, c.1869-1872. Middle: Cast and chased gold pendant in the form of a winged dragon set with a pearl in the dragon's mouth and an emerald for the eye, c.1838-1919. Right: Cast and chased gold brooch or 'crochet de montre' in the form of a winged dragon with a suspension hook on the reverse for a watch. Made in France, after 1838. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Early 19th-century English gold brooch in the form of a snake biting its tail (ouroboros) set with pearls and gems that spell out 'regard' on a cannetille pendant: ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, and diamond. In the center of the pendant is a glass-covered compartment containing hair. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Bloomed and chased three-colour gold demi-parure of brooch and earrings set with turquoises, rubies, and pearls in the centre of forget-me-nots with birds on trembler springs. Made by J & C Turner, London, c.1850. Featured alongside other bird and forget-me-not antique jewels from the Hull Grundy gift. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Bloomed and chased two-colour gold brooch set with turquoises in the form of a forget-me-not spray with a tropical bird made of hummingbird feathers. The white patch on the underside of the bird is platinum soldered in with gold solder. His beak is iron. Made in the USA, c.1860. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Cast and chased gold brooch in the form of an eagle fighting a snake. The snake is pavé-set with turquoises and has cabochon ruby eyes. Paris, c.1860 - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Antique dog cravat-pins. Left: Gold with the head in the form of an enameled miniature of a great dane, inscribed on the reverse. Painted by William Bishop Ford, England, c.1876. Middle: Chased gold with the head in the form of a pointer, France, c.1850. Right: Gold with the head in the form of an enameled miniature of a pug dog, inscribed on the reverse. Painted by William Bishop Ford, England, c.1882. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Gold bracelet with overlapping flexible links and set with turquoises in the form of a lizard. In the original velvet case labeled on the silk lining of the lid. Made by: Streeter & Co, London, c.1880.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Cast and chased gold bracelet-slide or neck-ribbon ornament in the form of a pheasant amidst flowers. Made by Messrs Gorham, USA, c.1880. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



Silver brooch with the enameled head of a dog in relief with cropped ears in a chased-gold setting in the form of a collar and lead. There is a glass-covered compartment for hair in the reverse. French, c.1890.

© The Trustees of the British Museum





Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild


Also known as Ferdinand James Anselm Freiherr von Rothschild (1839-1898), or 'Ferdy' to his sister Alice and friends, he was a British Jewish art collector, politician, and banker of the renowned Rothschild banking family of Austria. Son of the Viennese baron and an Englishwoman, Ferdinand was born in Paris and was fluent in three languages. He was 'as much at home in Paris as in London', London being the city to which he relocated, where he married his second cousin, Evelina de Rothschild.


Ferdinand de Rothschild built and equipped the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children in Southwark, London, shortly after his wife Evelina died giving birth to their stillborn son. He was also instrumental in founding the Army Reservists' Home, was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1883, and had a 19th-century manor - called Waddesdon Manor - built for himself based on a 16th-century French chateau to house his collections from all over Europe. Most of this collection, later donated to the British Museum as part of the Waddesdon bequest, covers the renaissance period. Here, we highlight a few of the later pieces from the collection.

A gold fede-ring, enameled, with a broad band covered by alternating twisted and plain wires; two pairs of white hands clasped over red heart project from each edge, between them is a crystal set in a heart over crossed arrows and fixed with a padlock. Hungary, c.1800-1898.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Three antique French pendant jewels c.1800-1850. Top: Cleopatra standing on an emerald with a mirror in one hand and a snake in the other; with rubies, a sapphire, and 3 pendant pearls. Middle: Venus standing on a shell between two dolphins, set with a sapphire, diamonds, and rubies, surmounted by a pearl and with 3 pendant pearls. Bottom: Venus and Cupid in white enamel, in an alcove with three onyx columns; set with quadrangular diamonds and rubies, a pearl at each side, and a single one pendant from the base. © The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold pendant jewel set with cabochon emeralds in the form of a hippocamp ridden by a small female figure wearing a feather diadem and holding a trident. The body of the animal is chased with cartouches, enameled, and set with graduated emeralds; scroll feet; suspends from a double chain with four pearls; cartouche set with emerald and pearl pendant suspended from it. Spain, c.1800-1847.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold pendant jewel in the form of a sea-dragon; the tail and one side of the body formed of a large baroque pearl, the other side chased with cartouche and enameled; wings are each set with pearls; plain suspension chain set with pearls; pearl pendant below. Spain or Paris, c.1800-1883.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold pendant jewel set with rubies and two diamonds in the form of a lady and gentleman riding a white horse; clothes enameled; the gentleman with a falcon on his wrist; enclosed within a circle closely set with rubies with three pendant pearls; enameled back; triple suspension chain set with rubies and pearls. Paris or London, c.1825-1857. - © The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold pendant jewel with an enameled green parrot; set with clusters of rubies; hemispheroidal base; upper plate engraved and enameled with shields and flowers; rounded sides pierced with strapwork scrolls, enameled and with a pendant pearl; hangs from three chains joined by a three-sided cartouche enameled with a pearl pendant. Spain or France, c.1850-1898, the parrot c.1500-1600.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A pendant with an openwork enameled gold frame set with four rubies on a cruciform design with fleurs-de-lis between arms, each with quatrefoil at the base. There is an onyx cameo of a helmeted head at the center, the helmet formed of a mask of Pan; a modern pendant pearl. c.1850-98, the cameo c.1500-1600.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



A gold pendant jewel in the form of a hawk with outstretched wings, standing on a branch from which spring enameled scrolls, with four raised settings with diamonds and a ruby; the body enameled green with a diamond set in the breast; wings studded with rubies; collar of diamonds; short suspension chain with rubies and pearls. Hungary, c.1800-1898. © The Trustees of the British Museum




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Ever wondered how museums like the V&A get their hands on such stunning antique jewels? Well, a big part of that is due to their generous donors. From art collectors and dealers to jewelry historians and experts, these are personal collections accrued over a lifetime of some of the most pristine, historically significant, or just plain gorgeous gems around. In this blog, we take a dip into some of these collections...


A jewel in the form of a trail of flowers, probably from a head ornament, gold set with amethysts, topazes, pearls, coral, turquoise, and garnets, c.1835-45. From the Lady Cory Bequest.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Dame Joan Evans


Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977) was a scholar of Medieval art specializing in Early Modern and Medieval jewelry, Evans donated her entire collection of more than 800 jewels dating from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century to the V&A in 1975. Evans was the daughter of the antiquarian and businessman Sir John Evans and Maria Millington Lathbury, who was the half-sister of Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist and lead excavator at Knossos. Dame Joan Evans studied archaeology at Oxford and published many books on historical jewelry and other archaeological subjects. Records suggest that Evans was the first woman to give Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, on the subject of ‘Jewels of the Renaissance’. She was also the first female president of the Society of Antiquaries 1959-64. Here are some highlights from the collection she donated.



Glittering Antique Gemstones, Diamonds & Paste


A stunning bodice ornament and matching pair of earrings set with topazes, backed with foil, and sapphires. All the stones are set in gold. Probably French, c.1760.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Late 17th century enameled gold openwork lozenge pendant set with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and rose-cut diamonds, the back with a bowl of fruit in painted enamel.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



German silver and gilded silver pendant, set with emeralds, rubies, and rose- and table-cut diamonds, the back engraved, c.1700. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London.



A suite of jewelry consisting of a bodice ornament and matching earrings, set with rose-cut diamonds in silver and hessonite garnets in gold, made in the Netherlands, c.1680-1700.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Spanish pendant with a crown design at the top, square emeralds set in gold openwork, with a large emerald drop, c.1680-1700. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Portuguese pendant encrusted in pastes in a silver openwork bow with flowers, with a pendant dove, c.1750. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Portuguese chrysoberyl jewels. Top: An aigrette set in silver openwork, with bow tops and long drops, c.1750-60. Bottom left: A brooch of silver openwork in the form of a bouquet, late 18th century. Bottom right: Earrings with bow tops and long drops, late 18th century. Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Spanish mid-18th-century jewels. Left: A pair of earrings with topaz and rose-cut diamonds set in silver. Right: A stunning Pendant with brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds and topazes set in silver.

Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



An antique French dove brooch, made of silver set with brilliant-cut diamonds, carrying an olive branch in its beak with emeralds for leaves, a ruby for an eye, and diamonds as feathers, c.1755.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Two jewels with blue and white pastes set in silver. Left: A French necklet of floral openwork with a pendant dove, France, c.1760. Right: A Western European shoe buckle, rounded and decorated with a ribbon of white pastes which curve in and out between larger blue pastes, c.1770.

Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



A very impressive necklace with topazes and rock crystal in silver openwork in a ribbon and flower pattern, with two alternative pendants. Probably French, c.1760. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Pair of French ornaments, possibly bracelet clasps, gold with central plaques of blue paste decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds, c.1770. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Three dazzling late 18th-century European brooches. Left: Floral brooch of rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds set in silver. Middle: Brooch in the form of a flower, crystals set in silver. Right: A bow-shaped brooch of rock crystal set in gold and silver. - All ©Victoria and Albert Museum



A spray brooch, colored gold, set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds, western Europe, c.1830.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



A selection of c.1835-50 jewels set with pink foiled topaz. #1 A brooch of stamped and enameled gold, possibly Swiss. #2 English brooch with two pendants, stamped openwork set with foiled topaz and chrysoberyl. #3 Pair of earrings of stamped and enameled gold, possibly Swiss. #4 Necklace of stamped and enameled gold, possibly Swiss. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum




Antique Sentimental Jewels


Two royal mourning rings. Right: Enameled gold ring commemorating the life and death of King George III, the squared oval bezel with the royal crown enameled in red and white. The hoop with a chased floral border. The central band is inscribed with the motto of the order of the Garter, in gold lettering on royal blue. c.1819-1820. Left: Enameled gold mourning ring for Princess Amelia, the oval bezel with a crowned 'A' bordered by 'REMEMBER ME'. The hoop inscribed 'Pss AMELIA DIED 2 NOV: 1810 AGED 27', England, dated 1810. - Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Enameled gold English mourning ring, with a silver bezel set with rose-cut diamonds and an amethyst in the form of a cross. The hoop is inscribed, 'RICH: PETT.DI:23 FEB: 1765 AE 76'. Right: English mourning brooch composed of a silver openwork bow, set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and pink sapphires over foil, and enameled gold ribbon, also set with gems and inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81, surrounding a hair locket. - Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Right: Gold commemorative pendant set with the monogram of William III against an enameled pavilion with angels above and inscribed OB. MAR. 1702. Middle: A beautiful snake-shaped ring, enameled in black with diamond eyes, made to commemorate 'George Edward Earl of Waldegrave. Obt. 28 Sepr. 1846 Aet 30.', England. Right: An enameled French gold locket set with pearls and an embossed medallion on the back, c.1797-1809, inscribed 'Love and friendship' in French. - All ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Enameled with roses and daisies, this French ring was a charming lover's gift. The little hinged panels set around the hoop open to reveal the French inscriptions: 'I love you a little, a lot, passionately and not at all', based on a game played by plucking the petals from a daisy, c.1830-60.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Gold mourning buckle, set with rock crystal over an inscription, 'Ann Harford 1728' worked in gold thread on hair. Middle: This elegant French brooch takes as its theme the symbols of love. Cupid’s bow and arrows (two loose and three in the quiver) are arranged with a pair of doves, two hearts on fire and a hymeneal torch (named after Hymen, the Greek goddess of marriage), c.1800-20. Right: Pendant with symbols of love and mortality, made of gold and enamel with a pendant pearl. One of the symbols, a coffin, is inscribed with the letters PWC BUM; the various symbols are possibly a rebus, c.1700. ©Victoria and Albert Museum




Chatelaines


Left: An unusual Swiss silver and gold chatelaine set with marcasites and red pastes, c.1780. Middle: Pinchbeck chatelaine incorporating scissors case, needle case, etui, and two thimble cases, c.1730-35. Right: Steel chatelaine with colored gold decoration, England, c.1770. All ©Victoria and Albert Museum




Neoclassical Pieces


Enameled gold pendant set with an onyx cameo of the Devotion of Marcus Curtius, hung with a pearl. The cameo, inspired by the work of Francesco Tortorino, probably Milan, c.1600, the mount c.1650-1700. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



A bracelet of copper gilt plaques with painted enamels representing Roman gods and goddesses: Jupiter, Bacchus, Cupid & Psyche, and two goddesses, c.1780-1800.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Cameo jewels. Left: French pendant with a coral cameo depicting Bacchus, the sculpted gold frame decorated with winged mermaids and hung with pearls and diamond sparks, c.1854. Middle: A pendant with a hardstone cameo of a classical male head surrounded by marcasites set in silver openwork and hung with pearls, c.1810-20. Right: Pendant with a chalcedony cameo of Cleopatra, based on a classical type of a Bacchante with snakes, in a contemporary enameled gold frame with ribbon ties, c. 1840-1900.

©Victoria and Albert Museum




Jane Anne Gordon, Lady Cory


Lady Jane Anne Gordon Cory (1866-1947) was a pianist with a ‘passionate love of music, particularly romantic music’ and a reputation for hosting brilliant musical parties at her London home on Belgrave Square to which she invited artists such as Fritz Kreisler and Ignacy Jan

Paderewski.


She was also an embroiderer and a jewelry and object collector of no small talent. Her extensive jewelry collection was bequeathed to the Museum in 1951, consisting of pieces with garnets, amethysts, jade, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and diamonds.

©Victoria and Albert Museum




Impressive antique jeweled earrings. Left: Pair of gold earrings set with jade, chrysoprases, and rubies, possibly made in France, c.1825. Right: Pair of earrings, enameled gold set with diamonds, rubies, and pearls, c.1860. Elements of the design and colors used are Indian, but the construction could be European.

©Victoria and Albert Museum


Left: An enameled padlock locket set with rose-cut diamonds, c.1840-50. Right: A gold locket with an enameled criss-cross design in black, set with pearls, c.1860-1870.

Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: A necklace set with brilliant and rose-cut diamonds and pearls set in gold with black enamel fillet, England, c.1875. Right: Bracelet of pearls and brilliant-cut diamonds set in gold, England, c.1880.

Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum




Suites & Matching Sets


A necklace and earrings of sapphires in brilliant-cut diamond borders, open-set in silver, backed with gold. The necklace has two graduated rows and was adapted in the 1930s from a single row necklace to a double row, probably for Lady Cory. England, c.1850. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



A necklace and earrings with peridots in brilliant-cut diamond borders, open-set in silver, backed with gold. c.1800-1850. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A matching pendant and earrings, probably for full evening wear only, each with brilliant-cut diamonds open-set in silver and backed in gold in a rosette design, c.1860. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Antique Bow Jewelry


Left: Pair of diamond bow brooches/bodice ornaments of silver set with brilliant-cut diamonds, from a set of three, c.1760. Middle: Brooch in the form of a jeweled and tasseled pearl bow, silver and gold set with pearls, brilliant-cut diamonds, emeralds, rubies, with a mother-of-pearl backing, c.1830. Right: A silver brooch in the form of a bow, set with pearls and brilliant-cut diamonds and with a baroque pearl pendant drop, c.1885. - All ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Natural Motifs in Antique Jewelry


Dress ornaments from a set of 46, shuttle-shaped, brilliant-cut diamonds set in silver, made by Leopold Pfisterer, 1764, formerly part of the Russian Imperial Collection. In 1764, Empress Catherine the Great commissioned Leopold Pfisterer to make a large suite of diamond and Bohemian garnet jewelry.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



An aigrette with brilliant-cut diamonds, turquoises, an emerald, and other colored stones, probably French, c.1810. Some of the stones were added subsequently (probably between 1820 and 1835) to increase the polychromatic effect of the piece. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Left: A spray ornament designed to be worn in the hair or like a brooch attached to the bodice of a gown, set with rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds in gold and silver, decorated with enamel, c.1750-70. This piece was originally part of the Russian Imperial Collection. Right: Flower brooch with brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, and emeralds set in gold and silver, c.1850-1900. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Brooch in the form of a Tudor rose, gold, pavé-set with turquoises, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, probably made in England, 1830-40. Originally the centerpiece from a bracelet.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Naturalistic jewelry decorated with clearly recognizable flowers or fruit emerged with the Romantic movement in the early 19th century and remained popular for some time. Until around 1830, the designs in jewelry with natural motifs were stylized and delicate. Later they became more elaborate and colorful, seeking to create more and more precise copies of specific flowers, leaves, fruit, and insects.


Twisted peacock feather earrings, gold pavé-set with turquoises, rubies, and pearls, c.1835-40. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



This beautiful creature is a serpent necklace, silver and gold, pavé-set with turquoises, with rubies, pearls, and diamonds, probably English, c.1835-40. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A brooch in the form of a 'convolvulus' flower, gold, pavé-set with turquoises and pearls, c.1835-1850. The convolvulus was thought to symbolize ‘bonds’ or ‘extinguished hopes’.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Part of a floral head ornament, later a brooch fitting, foiled rock crystals, pearls, and garnets set in enameled gold, Britain, c.1840-50. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



French necklace and matching earrings in the form of vines leaves and grapes, enameled gold mounted with amethysts, c.1840-50. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A necklace of colored gold set with pearls in the form of vine leaves and grapes, with matching earrings, possibly English, c.1850. The fashion for sets of seed pearl jewelry continued through the Victorian era. This example has an intricate and complex construction. Gold wires provide the framework, and the seed pearls are attached with horsehair or silk. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Tiara in the form of a Neoclassical wreath, set with brilliant-cut and a few rose-cut diamonds in three attached units, set in silver and backed with gold, England, c.1850. The honeysuckle palmette on a trembler is a later addition of 1860–80, replacing a damaged flower. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Bodice ornament in the form of a floral spray of roses, carnations, and other flowers, set with brilliant-cut and a few rose-cut diamonds in silver and backed with gold. Some flowers are mounted on springs as 'tremblers'. Possibly English, c.1850. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Ornament in the form of a floral spray, brilliant-cut diamonds set in silver, c.1851. Right: Ornament in the form of a floral spray made up of three convolvulus flowers with seven rose leaves and a small bow. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Three spray ornaments set with diamonds. Left: A hair ornament in the form of a spray of leaves and fuchsias, brilliant-cut diamonds open-set in silver, backed with gold, c.1820. Middle: Ornament in the form of a floral spray, brilliant-cut diamonds set in silver, backed with gold, c.1830-1870. Right: Flower spray with the diamonds set in silver, c.1880.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Bracelet of enameled gold set with pearls in the form of a branch vine, France (Paris), c,1850. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Rusticated bracelet, enameled gold, set with pearls, in the form of an entwining branch, c.1850-60. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Turquoise Treasures


Turquoise was used in profusion in jewelry of the 19th-century, symbolizing true love...


A gold necklace, pavé-set with turquoises and half pearls, the units linked with gold chains. England, c.1820-30. Pearls and turquoise were a very popular combination in Victorian jewelry, the turquoise echoing forget-me-nots, which were a very popular motif. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Necklace of 28 links with a central bow and a boss-shaped clasp, gold, pavé-set with turquoises and with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds. England, c.1845-55. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A pair of earrings in the shape of a bow with a turquoise drop, gold, pavé-set with Russian turquoises and with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds, England, c.1850-60.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Antique Filigree Jewelry


A selection of jewels with amethysts set in gold filigree with cannetille decoration, all c.1820. #1 English earrings, #2 English earrings, #3 an English necklace where each unit is connected by chains. #4 A French necklace with both cannetille and grainti decoration, set with amethysts and pearls, #5 A French pendant, #6 French earrings with both cannetille and grainti decoration, set with amethysts and pearls. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Pair of earrings, gold filigree with cannetille and grainti decoration, set with emeralds, citrines, sapphires, garnets, rubies, aquamarines, peridots, and pearls. France, c.1820. With a matching necklace.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A gold openwork locket bracelet with cannetille and grainti decoration, set with foiled amethyst cabochons and other semi-precious stones. Each link has a locket fitting at the back. possibly French, c.1820-30.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



A bracelet made from a flexible band of gold, with clasp and central motif of gold filigree with cannetille and grainti decoration, set with pearls and turquoises. From Portugal or Malta, c.1830-50.

©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Left: A tasseled bow brooch. Right: A pair of matching earrings. Both with dense gold filigree work using cannetille and grainti decoration, set with turquoises and pearls, from Malta or Portugal, c.1835-40. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.




Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend

Chauncey Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was a poet, clergyman, and collector from a rich family. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Townshend was friends with the likes of Robert Southey, the Wordsworths, the Coleridges, and Charles Dickens. Not just a collector of famous literary friends and books, Townshend also collected art, fossils, stuffed birds, coins, maps, and gems and jewelry. In the V&A is his 154-piece collection donated in 1869, displaying a range of precious and semiprecious stones mounted in gorgeous rings as well as some cameos and intaglios. In 1913 the Townshend gemstone collection was supplemented by a donation from A. H. Church.

Via Wikimedia Commons


A selection of rings with gemstones from the Townshend collection, all c.1800-1869.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Three cameos from the Townshend collection. Left: An oval layered agate cameo depicting Hercules carrying the Cretan bull, Italy, c.1740-70. Middle: Gold ring with a layered onyx cameo depicting a crouching cat in a 'Roman' setting, possibly made in England, c.1825. Right: An oval sardonyx cameo of two strata, set in a gold ring, depicting Psyche naked and feeding a butterfly, Italy, c.1800.

All ©Victoria and Albert Museum




Patricia V. Goldstein


Patricia Goldstein (1930-2002) was a New York collector and dealer who often traded in France, Belgium, and Britain. Having bought her first 19th-century locket at the age of 15, her interest in fine antique jewelry was piqued, and she went on to set up a business in 1968 as a dealer. Having fallen in love with the V&A during her visits to London, she donated her collection to the museum just a few days before her death in 2002.


Three dazzling gemstone brooches. Left: Brooch of chrysoberyls and pink topazes set in silver, c.1700-1800. Middle: A brooch with a diagonal arrangement of diamond-set weapons: a canon, pistol, arrows, axe, flag, and plumed helmet, combine to create a military trophy celebrating bravery, c.1750. Right: Diamond brooch in the form of an open flower with foliage and a small drooping bud, c.1800-1900.

All ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Silver brooch with floral decoration and three pear-shaped drops of faceted orange glass, c.1700-1800. Right: A Portuguese bodice ornament of topazes and rock crystal set in silver, c.1770.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



A gold micro mosaic brooch depicting two flying doves, Italy, c.1860.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Platinum and gold butterfly brooch set with diamonds and a ruby, a natural pearl, and an emerald, Marcus & Co, New York, 1875-1900. Right: Brooch in the form of a heart in gold with opal, green or demantoid garnets and diamonds, Europe or US c.1875-1900. - Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Two late 19th-century flower basket brooches. Left: The basket is woven gold wire, with gem-set flowers and handle. The colored stones set in gold, the diamonds in white metal, probably white gold. Right: Depicted using platinum, gold, enamel, rose-cut diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum.



Circular knot of gold centered by three cabochon sapphires issuing as buds from rose-cut diamond settings. By August Hollming (one of Fabergé's workmasters), St Petersburg (Russia), c.1895-1899.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Brooch of silver, gold, amethyst, enamel, and a pearl, made by Child & Child, London, c.1900. Child & Child's patrons included the late Queen Victoria, the late King Edward VII, King George V, the late Empress Frederick of Prussia, and the Tsarina of Russia.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Gold ring with bezel in the form of flowers mounted with facetted diamonds set in silver, c.1760. Right: Gold ring with foliate shoulders supporting a heart-shaped bezel mounted with rubies set in gold and diamonds set in silver, c.1780. - Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



This English pendant with a wax relief under glass and a pearl border commemorates the death of an infant. It is inscribed, ‘Henry Halsey Inft. aged 10 Mos. died 12th Jan 1798.’ and ‘Fond Parents grieve not for thy Infant Son Your God has called him and his Will be done.’ Henry was the first son of Henry Halsey of Henley Park, Pirbright, Surrey. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Pendant in the form of an egg suspended from a Russian crown composed of diamonds set in silver. The egg is mounted with alternating vertical rows of gold beads and diamonds set in silver. The egg unscrews at its widest point to reveal the monogram of Catherine the Great set in diamonds on blue glass ground. Russia c.1790. This was probably presented by Catherine the Great to a member of her court at Easter.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Interlocking zigzag design of alternating diamonds and rubies in a gold framework, Russia, 1860-1895. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



French poissarde earrings set with gold and yellow topaz, c.1820.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Gold earrings with onyx cameos of classical female heads, possibly US, c.1870. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Three pairs of French earrings c.1819-38. Left: Enameled gold, with glass paste over green foil. Middle: Enameled gold and opaline glass pastes painted to simulate moss agate. Right: Enamelled gold, made by Benoît-Roch Marrel. - All ©Victoria and Albert Museum.




Mr. John George Joicey


Little is known of John George Joicey's life (1863-1919) apart from that he was born in Durham but spent much of his time abroad, and occasionally in London. He had a large collection of ceramic objects, inlaid guns, gold enamel watches and snuffboxes, jewelry, and furniture, which he loaned to the V&A for exhibition. When he died, the objects on deposit to the museum became theirs.


A wreath tiara of enameled gold, set with diamonds and pearls, with hinged sections and a central paste cameo portrait inspired by antique carved gems, c.1815. ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Left: Gold cross set with six pink foiled stones in a complex frame of filigree scrolls. Britain, c.1810-1830. Right: Pendant cross, amethysts set in simple gold wire filigree, England, c.1825. Both ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Gold brooch with grainti decoration, set with a green paste, garnets, and green foiled aquamarines, c.1830.

©Victoria and Albert Museum



Earrings and a brooch in swirling gold mounts stamped out of thin gold sheet, set with carbuncles (almandine garnets), England, c.1835. - ©Victoria and Albert Museum



Pair of earrings made from stamped gold set with peridots, England, c.1835. ©Victoria and Albert Museum





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'Guy Fawkes Night', also called 'Bonfire Night' or 'Fireworks Night', which commemorates the night the Gunpowder Plot was averted, is only a few days away. Across Britain, the story of the failed attempt to blow up parliament and the King on the 5th November 1605 is common knowledge. As a day celebrating the preservation of the Royal family, what could be more fitting than taking a look at the brilliant spectacle of the crown jewels themselves, now held in the very same Tower of London where the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot were imprisoned and tortured...


The absolutely spectacular Imperial State Crown is part of the Crown Jewels held in the Jewel House vault at the Tower of London. It is mounted with three very large stones and set with 2868 diamonds in silver mounts as well as 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 269 pearls. This crown as it is now was made by Garrard & Co for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, based on a crown designed for Queen Victoria in 1838 by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. The stones, however, date back much further and include: St Edward's Sapphire, Cullinan II a.k.a the 'Second Star of Africa', The Black Prince's Ruby (supposedly worn by Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, and set by James I into the state crown near the beginning of the 17th-century), and The Stuart Sapphire (which was passed back and forth between Scotland - who originally owned it - and England, until it finally ended up among England's crown jewels on the accession of James I of England & VI of Scotland).

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



 

"Remember, remember! The fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason, and plot; I know of no reason why Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot! Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent To blow up the King and Parliament Three score barrels of powder below Poor old England to overthrow By God's providence he was catched With a dark lantern and burning match Holloa boys, Holloa boys God save the King!" - A traditional poem for Guy Fawkes night

 



What was the Gunpowder Plot?


Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido Fawkes, was not the only one involved in the Gunpowder Plot, but he was the only one of the 12 conspirators to be caught so damningly involved. He was found in the cellar of parliament in the early hours of 5th November 1605, hiding with a lantern beside 36 barrels of poorly hidden gunpowder. There he lay in wait for the Opening of Parliament, which was to be attended by King James I of England & VI of Scotland, along with his wife, Anne of Denmark, and his heir.



James I & Anne of Denmark Jewels


Here are some of James I and Anne of Denmark's jewels not featured in the Crown Jewels collection at the Tower of London. Not many of James I's jewels remain in the Crown Jewels collection because one of Charles I's first acts after succeeding James I to the throne was to load 41 masterpieces from the Jewel House onto a ship bound for Amsterdam, desperate for the money.

The Honours of Scotland - consisting of Europe's oldest crown, first worn by James V at the coronation of his wife, Mary de Guise, and last worn by Charles II; and the Sword of State and Sceptre. As James VI of Scotland, James I would have also worn The Honours of Scotland. Left Via Royal Exhibitions. Right via Historic Environment Scotland.



A 1604 portrait of James I & VI wearing a jewel known as 'The Mirror of Great Britain' in his hat, by John de Critz. The jewel was described in a 1606 inventory as: 'containing one very faire table diamonde, one very faire table rubie, two other diamonds cut lozengwise, the one of them called the stone of the letter H. of SCOTLANDE, garnished with small diamonds, two rounde pearles fixed, and one fayre diamond cut in fawcetts, bought of Sancy.' The jewel was pawned in 1625 and is considered lost.

National Galleries Scotland



The 14th-century pendant known as 'The Three Brothers', worn here by Queen Elizabeth I suspended from an elaborate Carcanet in a painting known as the Ermine Portrait. - Via Wikimedia Commons.



The same 'Three Brothers Jewel', at the time called 'The Brethren' , worn here in a portrait by James I as a hat jewel. The jewel earned its name for the 3 great balas rubies set around a pointed diamond and further decorated with 4 pearls, one a pendant. - Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie



The Lyte Jewel - A gold diamond-set locket containing the portrait of King James VI of Scotland and I of England by Nicholas Hilliard. Of open-work, filled with the letter R, with diamonds on the outside and brilliant enamel within. In 1610 it was presented by King James I of England to Thomas Lyte.

© The Trustees of the British Museum



Jeweled aigrettes were very in fashion during the reign of James I, and he himself is described in several accounts as wearing a 'jewel of gold in fashion of a feather, set with diamonds'. These drawings are not that feather jewel but are other jeweled feather-like aigrettes designed by Arnold Lulls, jeweler to James I.

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London



Two more jewels designed by Arnold Lulls, jeweler to James I, including a diamond and pearl ornament given to the Queen in 1605 and a 'rope of round pearls, great and orient'—forty-seven in number—given to the Queen. - ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London



Portraits of Anne of Denmark - Queen Consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland - decked out in jewelry. She had a reputation for extravagant taste in jewelry, often wearing diamonds and other gems in her hair. Left: wearing an ornate pearl necklace, her dress strung with layers of pearls with a gem at the center and a matching smaller gem in her hair. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021. Middle: Depicted with a diamond and pearl aigrette and a diamond necklace in a portrait by John de Critz, 1605. - Via Wikimedia Commons. Right: A portrait of Anne of Denmark wearing what may be the famed 'H' jewel originally belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots. - Via Wikimedia Commons.



These jewels demonstrate perhaps one of the most significant changes to jewelry in the 17th century - the ability to cut diamonds in new ways. Previously only table and point-cuts could be achieved, but Dutch knowledge soon led to the rose-cut diamond. Other gemstones also transitioned from cabochon form to faceted cut gems. For more descriptions of Anne of Denmark's jewelry see VIII. Anne of Denmark's Jewellery Inventory | Archaeologia | Cambridge Core.




Why Kill the King?


England was in a state of turmoil at the beginning of the 17th century. After the Protestant Queen Elizabeth died, James I inherited the English throne to add to his Scottish throne. James I was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, and though Scotland had professed itself to be mostly Protestant by this time, many Catholics in England had high hopes that he would be lenient or at least sympathetic towards Catholics in England because of his mother's reputation as a devout Catholic queen. Sadly, this was not the case. Again, it became dangerous to be Catholic in England, with priests who were found leading secret services being tortured and executed. Guy Fawkes was one such devout Catholic, who avoided conflict in England by going off to Europe to fight for Catholic Spain against Protestants. He was then sought out by an Englishman called Thomas Wintour, whose cousin Robert Catesby was leading a group of Catholic conspirators back in England. Guy Fawkes returned to England and joined the rebellious group. As the only explosives expert amongst them due to his military training, Fawkes was the one chosen to set the fuse.


An illustration from Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places', Vol II by Walter Thornbury, 1872-8.




To the Tower


Thanks to an anonymous letter that was given to the authorities, the Royal Guards were alerted to the plot with enough time to scour the House of Lords and find Fawkes hiding in the cellars. He was promptly arrested and taken to the King. When asked what he had been doing in the cellar, he replied:


"I wish to blow the Scottish King and all of his Scottish Lords back to Scotland".

The King himself signed an authorization for Fawkes to be imprisoned, tortured, and interrogated in the Tower of London. Fawkes eventually named his co-conspirators, whereupon they were all hung, drawn, and quartered. Their body parts were displayed throughout London to warn others against treason. The following year, James I passed an act calling for a celebration to be held every 5th November with special church services, bonfires, and fireworks, to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot and to give thanks for his and his Royal family's deliverance from danger.



The Tower of London Crown Jewels


The jewels in the Tower of London Crown Jewels collection mostly consist of jewels from 1661 onwards, as Oliver Cromwell sold and melted down the vast majority of remaining older crown jewels during the Interregnum.


Charles II Coronation Regalia all together - made for the coronation of Charles II in 1661, many of which were used for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Including The Spurs, The Ampulla and The Coronation Spoon, St Edward's Crown, The Sovereign's Orb, The Jewelled Sword of Offering, The Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove, and The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross.

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.



This crown - known as St Edward's Crown - is currently used for coronations and was made for the Coronation of Charles II as a replacement for the medieval crown which was melted down in 1649 and which was thought to date back to the days of Edward the Confessor (St Edward), the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. The design has four crosses-pattée, four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. It is composed of solid gold set with tourmalines, white and yellow topazes, rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, peridot, zircons, spinel, and aquamarines, step-cut and rose-cut and mounted in enameled gold collets, and with a velvet cap with an ermine band. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, made for the coronation of Charles II by Robert Viner, with additions to the monde for George IV's coronation in 1820, and the huge drop-shaped Cullinan I a.k.a 'Star of Africa' diamond added in 1910. The scepter has 3 sections, surmounted by an enameled heart-shaped structure, which holds the diamond, with enameled brackets on top, mounted with step-cut emeralds, and a faceted amethyst monde, set with table and rose-cut diamonds, rubies, spinels, and emeralds, with a cross above set with further diamonds, with a table-cut diamond on the front, and an emerald on the reverse. Beneath the Cullinan I diamond are further enameled brackets, representing a crown, mounted with rubies and diamonds. The pommel of the sceptre is enameled and mounted with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



The Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove made for the coronation of Charles II by Royal Goldsmith Robert Viner. The sceptre is formed from a plain gold rod in three sections, with enameled collars at the intersection mounted with rose- and table-cut diamonds, step- and table-cut rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and spinels. Surmounted by a gold monde, with an applied silver zone and arc set with rose diamonds, and a gold cross supporting an enameled dove with outspread wings. At the base of the sceptre is a compressed spherical pommel set with further rose-cut diamonds.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021


The gold Sovereign’s Orb (1661) symbolizes the Christian world with its cross mounted on a globe. Mounted with clusters of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, each in a champleve enamel mount, between single rows of pearls. The monde is an octagonal step-cut amethyst, surmounted by a cross set with rose-cut diamonds, with a table-cut sapphire in the center on one side and an emerald on the other, with pearls at the angles and at the end of each arm.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



Mary of Modena's Diadem, for the coronation of Mary of Modena, consort of James II, on 23 April 1685. The diadem is formed from a gold circlet, rising to a peak at the front, with a border of pearls, above foliated scrolls of rose-cut quartz crystal clusters and rosettes (replacing the original diamonds hired for the coronation), mounted with gold wire. The diadem is fitted with a purple velvet cap and ermine band. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



Mary of Modena's Crown of State, for the coronation of Mary of Modena, consort of James II, on 23 April 1685. The crown is composed of a gold frame, set with rock crystals in closed silver collets, with cultured pearls, and fitted with a purple velvet cap with an ermine band. The frieze is set with eighteen oval rose-cut crystals between rows of pearls, supporting four fleurs-de-lis and four crosses-pattée composed of large crystals, and a narrow festoon of rose-cut crystals. The four half-arches are each set with a central row of pearls, flanked by rows of rose-cut stones, supporting a pavé-set monde and surmounted by cross-pattée, the arms terminating in pearls. The rock crystals in this crown replace the original diamonds hired for the coronation. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



Queen Consort's Sceptre with Cross, for the coronation of Mary of Modena, consort of James II, on 23 April 1685. The scepter is formed from a gold rod in three sections and is surmounted by a monde with a zone and arc of molded gold set with table-cut quartzes, with a cross above mounted with rose-cut and shaped quartzes. The monde sits in a bracket of quartz-set petals representing a fleur-de-lis. The sections of the rod are joined by collars similarly mounted with rose-cut stones; the lowest section with a silver openwork sleeve set with rose-cut stones arranged as scrolls. The gold pommel is mounted with a silver band set with table- and rose-cut quartzes. The quartzes replace the original diamonds which were hired for the coronation. The scepter has been used by every subsequent Queen Consort.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021



The Crown Jewels contain some of the world’s most exceptional diamonds, shown here with the blue Stuart Sapphire which was reputedly smuggled out of the country by James II when he fled in 1688 and now adorns the back of the Imperial State Crown (1937). The magnificent Cullinan I (top left) is the world’s largest top-quality, white-cut diamond and one of the nine major stones cut from the original diamond. Cullinan II (bottom right), is the second-largest stone from the same diamond, now set into the front band of the Imperial State Crown. The Koh-i-Nûr (top right) was presented to Queen Victoria in 1849 and now adorns the front of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Crown (1937).

Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.



Queen Mary II's Orb, made for the coronation of Mary II in 1689 by the royal goldsmith Robert Viner. A hollow gold orb, surmounted by a cross mounted with rose-cut and step-cut crystals; the zone and arc bordered by single rows of pearls in between which are silver collets set with rose-cut and octagonal step-cut quartz and imitation gems. As Mary II ruled as a joint sovereign with her consort William III, she required a new orb and a new scepter for the coronation ceremony of 1689. The stones in the orb, which were hired for the occasion, would originally have included diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, all of which were removed after the ceremony and replaced with pastes.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.



Left: The Sovereign's Ring, supplied for the coronation of William IV in 1831 by the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, with a mixed-cut octagonal sapphire in a gold setting and a diamond on each shoulder. Right: Queen Victoria's coronation ring (1838) with a step-cut octagonal sapphire open-set in gold and brilliants decorating the shank and band. In both rings, the sapphires are overlaid with four oblong rubies and one square ruby, butted together in a gold strip setting to form a cross, with a border of cushion-shaped diamonds. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.



Queen Victoria's Small Diamond Crown, made for Queen Victoria in 1870 by the Crown Jewellers, R.S. Garrard & Co, designed to be worn by Queen Victoria on top of her widow's cap. The crown comprises an openwork silver frame, set with 1,187 diamonds in open-backed collet mounts. The band is formed with a frieze of lozenges and ovals between two rows of single diamonds, supporting four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, with four half-arches above, surmounted by a monde and a further cross-pattée.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.



Crown of Queen Mary, consort of George V, commissioned for the coronation on 22 June 1911. Composed of a silver frame with an openwork band, lined with gold, and set with 2,200 diamonds. Set at the front is a detachable rock crystal replica of the diamond, Cullinan IV, and a frieze of quatrefoils and rosettes, between borders composed of single rows of brilliants. Above the band are four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis. The front cross is set with a detachable rock crystal replica of the Koh-i-Nûr diamond. The eight detachable tapering half-arches terminate in scrolls and contain six graduated brilliants, between borders of stones. The monde is pavé-set with diamonds and surmounted by another cross with a rock crystal replica of the Cullinan III in the center. The crown is fitted with a purple velvet cap and ermine band. The Koh-i-Nûr was later moved to the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Cullinan III and IV were set as a brooch. - Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.



The Imperial Crown of India supplied to King George V for the Delhi Durbar of 12 December 1911. The crown is formed from a frame of silver, laminated with gold, set with 6,100 diamonds. The band is set with sixteen jeweled clusters forming the frieze, with emeralds and mixed-cut sapphires surrounded by diamonds, alternating with lozenges set with diamonds, between borders of brilliant-cut diamonds and trefoils. Above the band are four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis; the crosses set in the center with rubies, the fleurs-de-lis with emeralds, all with further diamonds. The eight tapering half-arches, cast in a pattern of paired leaves and stylized buds, spring from the crosses and fleurs-de-lis and terminate in scrolls, supporting the monde, and surmounted by another cross-pattée with an emerald in the center.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.



The Queen Mother's Crown, created for Queen Elizabeth for the coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937. The crown has a platinum frame set with 2,800 diamonds, the band comprising alternating clusters formed as crosses and rectangles, bordered with single rows of brilliant-cut diamonds and set at the front with a large diamond, which was given to Queen Victoria in 1856 by the Sultan of Turkey. Above the band are four fleurs-de-lis and four crosses-pattée. The front cross holds the Koh-i-Nûr diamond in a detachable platinum mount. The four tapering half-arches are removable and are surmounted by a pavé-set monde and a cross, set with a rock crystal replica of the Lahore Diamond (presented to Queen Victoria by the East India Company in 1851). Fitted with a purple velvet cap and ermine band.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.




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