Monday, October 29, 2018

DAY 85: Diamonds are Forever

So let's talk rocks.

Pictured above is the "Honeysuckle" tiara, named for its palmette design, but otherwise known as the Kinsky Tiara. Charles Kinsky's mother, Princess Marie, wore this for her appearances at the Austrian Court of Empress Sisi. It was a gift from Charles's father, Prince Ferdinand, and was crafted around 1870 of gold, silver, and diamonds. It is still held privately in the Kinsky family.

This is the Manchester Tiara, named for the Duchess of Manchester who commissioned it from Cartier in 1903--notice that the settings employ the newly-discovered metal platinum, which allowed Cartier to craft ethereal, almost weightless designs unknown in Princess Marie's day. The Duchess of Manchester who paid for this confection of platinum, diamonds, and--gasp!--glass, was none other than Consuelo Yznaga Montagu, Jennie's lifelong friend. Minnie had been genteely impoverished most of her life, but came into some cash after her brother's death. She supplied over a thousand brilliant-cut diamonds and 400 rose-cut diamonds to Cartier for the creation; the glass was used only on the tiara's ends, where it was fixed in Connie's hair. Cartier based the design of graduated hearts and C-scrolls on 18th century Paris ironwork. It was donated to HM Government in lieu of taxes and is now in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

And finally, those diamond stars--so beloved of Victorians, and identified with Jennie in particular. It turns out that it was Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to her friends (Jennie and Charles included), as Sisi, who set the fashion in diamond stars. She loved them, wore them in her glorious hair for her Winterhalter portrait as a newly-married girl of sixteen, and when the Fashionable World took up her style with a frenzy--Sisi gave her diamond stars away to friends, as they were no longer special to herself alone. 

This is the greatest collection of stars I've found, a parure--meaning, a complete set of jewelry fashioned around the same theme, to be worn all OVER a woman's body. This is an 1870 suite comprised of a tiara, necklace, and a pair of earrings. Nestled in the blue velvet of its original jeweler's box from Collingwood & Son, it was auctioned at Christie's. Went for a mere $404,000 US dollars. Gaze at it and weep. 

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.

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