1797
1797
A Rare Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Brooch, circa 1750
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
1797
A Rare Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Brooch, circa 1750
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite

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Hong Kong

A Rare Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Brooch, circa 1750
Designed as a shell set with emeralds and old-mine- and rose-cut diamonds, crowned by six cabochon emeralds each applied with a ruby and diamond flower, suspending a cabochon emerald and two emerald-set link chain, one embellished with an oval ruby and the other to a smaller shell terminating with two variously-shaped ruby tassels, mounted in silver topped gold and yellow gold, brooch fitting detachable, fitted case.
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Provenance

Lady Anne Maud Rhys, 7th Duchess of Ciudad Rodrigo (1910-1998), descendant of 1st Duke of Wellington.

Literature

Cf.: Diana Scarisbrick, Brillant Europe: Jewels from European Courts, Belgium, 2008, pg. 169, for an illustration of this brooch, stating the following:

Brooch from the Spanish royal family

Spain(?), 1740-60

Gold, silver, emeralds, rubies and diamonds, 130 x 75mm

The brooch is designed as a shell outlined in diamonds. Further lines of diamonds run between emerald ribs, crowned by six cabochon emeralds to which sprays of ruby and diamond flowers are applied, highlighted by groups of small diamonds. An emerald drop, a small shell and emerald chains ending in diamond tassels hang beneath. Illustrating Spanish taste for deep green emeralds, this brooch unites three characteristic motifs of the rococo style - shells, flowers and tassels. Pinned to the corsage, the flowers bordering the low-cut neckline and the tassels falling down to the waist, this handsome brooch would have stood out against a stiff brocade court dress, drawing attention to the royal wearer.

Catalogue Note

ROCOCO REFINEMENT

The 18th century was a special era for Jewellery – when royal jewels achieved a new level of perfection, led by the French Monarchy. The rococo style, which originated in Paris in the early 18th century, was soon adopted by other neighboring European countries; idealized by elegance, curves and natural foliate motifs. By the late 18th century, archaeological discoveries in Pompeii became sensational news for the art scene and inspired classical ideals of beauty. Classicism in jewels flourished with these decorative motifs, and gems were mounted in closed back settings using silver and gold. In line with the trendy décolleté (low neckline garments) of the time, necklaces as well as brooches for the bust were favored among rococo jewels. Candles were the choice of lighting in the evening during the 18th century, and grand events were usually scheduled for the night. Magnificent jewels were an essential element to the court dresses, which dazzled under the marvelous chandeliers.

Throughout the century, Spanish royalty enjoyed coloured stones as much as diamonds. Spain had developed emerald mines in Colombia and Peru since the 16th century, and the best of these gems were mounted in intricate jewels with extremely fine detail. Under King Philip V (1683-1746), who was the grandson of Louis XIV, and his son Charles III (1716-1788) Spain was prosperous and institutions were reformed. Jewellery played a pivotal role in the royal courts, and emerald parures characterized the traditional preference of Spanish Jewellery: with necklaces, rings, stomachers, brooches, earrings, and more. The Spanish royalty had a penchant for deep green emeralds, which were highly valued for thousands of years. However very few pieces of jewels from this era have survived through the ages, as almost all precious pieces at the time were destined for remounting. Due to its high intrinsic value, it was very common for the gems to be unmounted and redesigned to suit the wearer as it kept up with the changes in fashion and taste. Even if they were not entirely remounted, it was common for the jewels to be dismantled and separated due to the rarity of the gemstones.

Lot 1797 is an extraordinary jewel dating back to the mid-18th century, which has survived more than two hundred fifty years.  Cherished and treasured by the royals, this stunning emerald brooch was spared of remounting, and has been well preserved throughout the ages. The jewel embodies the aesthetic ideals of the time, with nature themes of rococo style flourishes within the design. The brooch takes the form of a shell encrusted with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, embellished with sprays of flowers on the crowning emerald cabochons – perfected with emerald drops, gold tassels and a smaller shell. In the 18th century this brooch would’ve been pinned to the corsage of the royal Spanish court dress, sparkling under the candlelit banquets. Later this jewel was owned by Lady Anne Maud Rhys, 7th Duchess of Ciudad Rodrigo (1910-1998), descendant of the 1st Duke of Wellington. She was seen wearing this brooch as the centerpiece of her dress as illustrated below. This remarkable brooch is not only unique due to its beautiful design and the quality of gems, but also due to the fact that it has survived hundreds of years in an impressive condition while accentuating generations of royalties.

Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite

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