Historic Royal Gems Go On Display At Kensington Palace

Historic Royal Gems Go On Display At Kensington Palace
A conservator prepares the spectacular Fife Tiara for display at Kensington Palace (C) Historic Royal Palaces

Dazzling Display of Historic Royal Jewels go on Show at Kensington Palace

Opens 30 March 2018

As Kensington Palace’s Victoria Revealed exhibition reopens to visitors, a glittering suite
of gems specially commissioned for Victoria by her beloved Albert is set to join the display at her childhood home.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are famed – even among royal collectors – for their
love of fine craftsmanship, together commissioning and purchasing some of the
nineteenth century’s finest artworks, porcelains and objects d’art to fill their homes.

Among the most personal of these treasures were the spectacular gifts the couple
exchanged, from the moment of their engagement in 1839 and throughout their 21-year marriage. Now, as part of Victoria Revealed, a dazzling display of gifts given by Albert to Victoria go on show at Kensington Palace for the first time.

Historic Royal Gems Go On Display At Kensington Palace
Queen Victoria’s Diamond and Emerald Diadem which goes on display at Kensington Palace from Friday 30 March. (C) Historic Royal Palaces.

Comprising a magnificent diamond and emerald diadem, emerald necklace, earrings
and brooch, this parure – or matching suite of jewels – showcases both the exquisite workmanship of nineteenth century goldsmiths, and Prince Albert’s own flair for design. Albert was fascinated by jewellery, and personally designed this dazzling headpiece for his wife. Created by the Queen’s Jeweller, Joseph Kitching, the tiara is set with cushion-shaped diamonds and step-cut emeralds, and surmounted by a graduated row of 19 inverted pear-shaped emeralds, the largest of which weighs an astonishing 15 carats. As a testament to Albert’s own creative talents, the pieces he designed for Victoria now constitute the only known examples of a tiara design by a consort for his Queen. Victoria, clearly delighted with the gift, wrote in her journal of her husband’s ‘wonderful taste’, and her delight at wearing this ‘lovely Diadem of diamonds and emeralds designed by my beloved Albert”.

Presented to Victoria in 1845, the tiara provided both the centrepiece and finishing touch
to an existing emerald suite. It was created to complement a necklace formed of 9 oval
emerald clusters, each set within a border of cushion-shaped diamonds, its
accompanying pendant earrings and an impressive 20ct emerald and diamond brooch,
all of which were gifts from Albert, and also go on display at Kensington Palace. Victoria
would select these gems for Franz Xavier Winterhalter’s intimate 1846 painting of the royal family, for her son Prince Alfred’s christening (when she paired them with the lace from her wedding dress) and again for a striking Winterhalter portrait of 1859, which depicts the pieces in stunning detail.

Touchingly, Victoria and Albert’s children and grandchildren continued the tradition of
giving gifts of jewels to mark significant events, and a number of other glittering royal
gifts join the display. The majestic Fife tiara, given to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter
Princess Louise on her wedding day, is today considered one of the finest works
produced by celebrated Parisian jeweller Oscar Massin, and represents the very zenith
of tiara design. A gift from Louise’s husband the Duke of Fife, it comprises hundreds of diamonds ranging in weight from one to ten carats, and features a spectacular row of pear shaped ‘swing set’ diamonds, which would have dazzled onlookers when worn.

Historic Royal Gems Go On Display At Kensington Palace
The spectacular Fife Tiara, made for Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise, on display at Kensington Palace from Friday (C) Historic Royal Palaces

Another of Louise’s jewels, a remarkable kokoshnik style tiara with graduated pavé-set
rays of diamonds in white and yellow gold, takes inspiration from the cockscomb style
headdresses of the Romanov court, and reflects the familial web created by Queen
Victoria’s descendants throughout Europe; Louise could count the Emperor and
Empress of Russia as cousins, while among her aunts were both the Dowager Empress
and a Grand Duchess. A gift from her parents the Prince and Princess of Wales (later
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), its clever construction means it could be worn
as a tiara or converted into a necklace, and it became one of Louise’s favourite pieces of
jewellery. As with Queen Victoria’s diamond and emerald parure, the kokosnhik tiara
goes on display at Kensington Palace on long-term loan from the estate of the 3 rd Duke
of Fife. Alongside the Fife tiara – accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax
and allocated to Historic Royal Palaces – these exquisite pieces will form part of the
Victoria Revealed exhibition from 30 March.

Peak: Adult: £19.50 / Concession: £15.50 / Child: £9.70 / Family: £48.80
Off-peak: Adult: £16.00 / Concession: £12.70 / Child: £8.00 / Family £40.60

Click here to book your place.

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