04 May 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall's Alhambra Malachite Necklace and Earrings

It seems The Duchess of Cornwall has been adding to her collection of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry once again.
At a reception this evening for British Oscar winners, The Duchess of Cornwall debuted a striking necklace and earring set in Van Cleef & Arpels' Alhambra motif. A staple of the famed Parisian jewelers since 1968, the clover-esque motif has been interpreted in many different designs and materials. The pieces debuted by The Duchess use vibrant green malachite to fill in the quatrefoil shapes, which are framed with gold and connected by gold chains.
The Duchess' necklace has multiple strands and could be one of the longer models, wrapped around more than once. When the malachite version of the design was reintroduced in 2013, necklaces from both the Vintage Alhambra collections (which uses motifs of the same size) and the Magic Alhambra collections (using varying sizes) were released.
The retail version of the long Vintage Alhambra necklace (shown on the right, above) includes 20 motifs and is listed for $17,600 currently; a 10 motif version is also available.

Camilla's malachite earrings are from the Magic Alhambra collection, featuring three motifs each. The earrings are listed for $9,350 currently. She also owns this earring design in the diamond and white gold version, which we first saw in 2012. I've always loved those earrings for being among the few long enough to be seen from underneath her hair, and the malachite is such a fun addition to her collection. With its bright color and plentiful striations, this is a stone with a lot of personality.

By the way, royal events that I would actually have loved to attend are rare, but this evening's event would be one. That is a lot of talent in one room. And who wouldn't want to be serenaded by Emma Thompson?

4 May 2016: Reception for British Academy Award Winners

Photos: ODN screencap/Van Cleef & Arpels

Audience at Buckingham Palace

The Queen received Baroness Scotland at Buckingham Palace, on her appointment as Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Back in London after Easter Court at Windsor, and back to a Cullinan. Not bad.

29 April 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 2011

Prince William married Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 (perhaps you recall...). No better time than their fifth wedding anniversary to revisit that most famous recent royal wedding - with, of course, a focus on our blog's primary subjects and the jewels they displayed.

Defence Images Flickr, via CC BY-NC 2.0
The bride accessorized her Alexander McQueen wedding gown with a tiara on loan from The Queen, the Cartier Halo Tiara. Revisit my post on The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding gown here.

Though The Queen still wears outfits from other couturiers, there wasn't much doubt that she'd select one from her personal assistant for this huge royal event. Angela Kelly designed this single crepe wool primrose dress with hand sewn beading at the neck in the shape of sunrays and matching double crepe wool tailored primrose coat. Ms. Kelly also designed the matching crepe hat with handmade silk roses and apricot-colored leaves.

With her standard daytime pearls and earrings, The Queen chose the True Lover's Knot Brooch from Queen Mary. It was a significant choice not only in theme - these knots are symbols of love, friendship, affection - but also in size. This brooch is most frequently used for evening events, with the exception of special events such as this one.

The Duchess of Cornwall's brooch choices were also symbolic, in their own way; the Van Cleef & Arpels Cosmos collection has a design based in part on the four leaf clover. Camilla has a pair of these brooches and a pair of Cosmos earrings, and she wore either one large and one small brooch or one large brooch and one earring as a brooch. She also wore her Everyday Pearl Pendant Earrings and a favorite single strand of pearls with her Anna Valentine-designed champagne silk dress and hand-embroidered duck egg blue and champagne coat. Jimmy Choo shoes, a Philip Treacy hat, and an Anna Valentine clutch completed her elegant and understated outfit.

Video: Full wedding broadcast
Just in case you feel like wasting a few hours of your day on this noble cause, the full wedding broadcast is above.

Photos: British Monarchy screencaps unless otherwise noted

27 April 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall's Diamond Moth Brooch

The Duchess of Cornwall wearing her Diamond Moth Brooch
Among the jewels debuted in 2015 by The Duchess of Cornwall was this Diamond Moth Brooch, a design which has also been referred to as a butterfly. She first wore the brooch in public at a memorial service for the Duke of Wellington and at a Buckingham Palace garden party the same day in May 2015.

In Malta, 2015
Commonwealth Secretariat Flickr (cropped), via CC BY-NC 2.0
The general design of The Duchess' brooch is not wholly unique; there are others of this general shape to be found. One close - or possibly exact - match is the example below, a Late Art Deco Diamond Platinum Moth Brooch offered for sale on 1stDibs by Macklowe Gallery in New York (now marked as sold).
The diamond brooch with emerald eyes is listed as being made circa the 1930s, with a width of 2.25 inches and a length of 1.13 inches. It is further described as follows:
An Art Deco platinum brooch with diamonds. The brooch has 6 old European-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 1.20 carats, 1 old European-cut diamond with an approximate total weight of .50 carats, 236 single-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 7.10 carats, and is further set with 22 rose-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of .10 carats. Approximate total carat weight of the moth is 8.9 carats. The mix and patterning of the various diamond cuts adds to the brilliance and dimension of this moth. 
This may only be a similar example, and we can't be sure of how The Duchess of Cornwall's brooch came to reside in her collection or of its origin. It is not surprising, however, to see her continue to add to her collection of insect brooches, regardless of the source. With butterflies and dragonflies and stick insects and more, her fondness for these creature brooches is clear. (It is not a fondness that I can say I share, though I do appreciate the Art Deco design of this particular piece.)

25 December 2015: Christmas Service
27 November 2015: Malta Visit: Day 2, CHOGM Opening Ceremony
12 May 2015:  Buckingham Palace Garden Party and Wellington Memorial Service

25 April 2016

The Queen’s Oban Brooch and the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 1999

Scottish Parliament via CC BY 2.0
On July 1, 1999, The Queen opened the new Scottish Parliament. The importance of the historic occasion was felt in every detail, including The Queen’s choice of outfit. Her team made the decision to break from her usual couturiers and sought out a Scottish designer.
Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Sandra Murray's thistle-inspired creation was a triumph. The purple coat in a silk-wool blend was worn over a green silk-crepe and lace dress and was paired with a matching plumed hat from Philip Somerville, specially dyed gloves, and bronze shoes and purse. The Queen's jewelry was also a reflection of the importance of the event, as she upgraded to a larger double strand of pearls and the larger version of her pearl and diamond button earrings
 Scottish Parliament via CC BY 2.0
My favorite part of the outfit was the Isle of Skye tartan shawl, draped over her shoulder in the style of a fly plaid. The plaid brooch she used to secure the shawl is one that is primarily - entirely, perhaps - associated with this single event.
The Queen's Oban Brooch
Referred to as "Her Majesty's Oban brooch" in Elizabeth: Reigning in Style by Jane Eastoe, the brooch is a traditional style of Scottish jewelry featuring what is most likely a Cairngorm stone at its center and an engraved surround of silver metal. Cairngorm is a smoky quartz found in the Cairngorms mountain range in Scotland, and decorative items worn with traditional Highland dress - such as this brooch - have long been popular uses. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were fans of the stone, as they were of Highland dress and of all things Scotland. Prince Albert purchased several "Scotch brooches" and "Perth brooches" in the 1840s, according the the Royal Collection. The Queen herself received a gold and Cairngorm brooch as a wedding gift from His Majesty's Medical Household in Scotland.*
A Cairngorm and silver brooch purchased by Prince Albert, 1847/8; the brooch was featured in a special Balmoral Castle episode of Antiques Roadshow, and is in the Royal Collection
BBC screencap
As Princess Elizabeth, The Queen was pictured wearing a brooch such as the one she wore to open the Scottish Parliament as a pin to hold her tartan sash in place at dances. Today, on the very rare occasion we see her with such a sash, she is likely to use a regular diamond brooch to pin it in place. For the 1999 opening of the Scottish Parliament, however, a traditional brooch was a lovely choice to make.

This outfit is currently on display as part of the exhibit Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The exhibition is the largest display yet of The Queen's fashion, and runs at Holyroodhouse from April 21 - October 16, 2016, at Buckingham Palace from July 23 - October 2, and at Windsor Castle from September 17 - January 8, 2017.

The Queen will officially open the new Scottish Parliament session this year on July 2. 

*With thanks to Kristina!

22 April 2016

Visit from President and Mrs. Obama

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh welcomed the President and First Lady of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama, to Windsor Castle for a private lunch.
For more: Zimbio gallery.
A birthday brooch for the birthday queen, a fab Oscar de la Renta dress for FLOTUS, and a flat screen for movie time, just in case lunch gets boring.

The Obamas arrived by helicopter and were driven back to the castle by The Duke himself. I enjoy the bit of confusion this caused, as you can see (and hear, from the press) in the video. Not your standard head of state greeting, but a lovely informal one nonetheless.

All other photos: Kensington Palace
The Obamas continued their family-style royal welcome in the evening, dining with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace.

Little peek inside Apartment 1A, anyone? (The Cambridge's home, in case you weren't aware.)

Prince George was even allowed to stay up past his bedtime to personally thank the Obamas for the rocking horse they gave him when he was born.

Greeting your first US president in your pajamas and your wee bathrobe - now, that's style. Welcome to the factoid that will grace every Did you know... list about George's life from now right through his own 90th birthday.

21 April 2016

Birthday Beacon Lighting, and Yet Another Television Feature

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, and The Duchess of Cornwall, lit the first in a series of beacons for Her Majesty's 90th Birthday at Windsor Castle.
I thought we might have a second outfit and a different brooch here, but it won't hurt us to look at the Jardine Star again. Camilla also stuck to her usual selections, not much of note.

Perhaps they were saving it up for the private dinner hosted by Charles at Windsor Castle this evening. A reported 71 guests, including senior members of the Royal Family and some European royals, celebrated the milestone with The Queen. It was a black tie affair with dinner in the Waterloo Chamber and a special concert.


Also, the BBC tonight added their own tribute to the mountain of features for HM's birthday. Elizabeth at 90 - A Family Tribute aired tonight; we previewed it last week here. (If you're keeping track, we've had Our Queen at 90, then The Queen at 90, and now Elizabeth at 90, so clearly there can be no more as all the possible title options in the whole world have already been taken.)
BBC screencap
Jokes aside, this was my favorite feature so far in terms of new footage and what felt like some real family moments. Narration by The Prince of Wales and comments from family members while they watch some previously unseen family films gave this a more personal feel. Lady Sarah Chatto was a lovely surprise; even a fellow queen regnant, Queen Margrethe, pops up to add her thoughts. The Queen watches some of the footage too.

Jewel-wise, the behind-the-scenes Coronation footage is a jewel spotting dream, and the Greville Chandelier Earrings and Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace are literal shining stars. Do watch it if you can.

Elizabeth at 90 - A Family Tribute is available on BBC iPlayer here, but it is geoblocked for audiences outside of the UK.

Update: It is also on YouTube, for now. You can watch below (thanks Miss Aotearoa!).