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royal babyAs part of the royal tradition, Kate Middleton is rumored to receive a new mommy gift (or “push present”) for the birth of her first child, Prince George Alexander Louis. It can’t be easy to figure out what to give the mother of the future King of England, but Prince William seems like he has it all figured out.

It is believed that William has commissioned one of the royal jewelers to find a pink diamond that will become the centerpiece of a custom brooch for Kate. He is very involved in the design process, adding sentimental touches to make it that much more special. Due to the scarcity of colored diamonds, in particular high quality ones of a larger size, it may be a while before we see the completed piece. Originally he was contemplating giving her one of his late mother the Princess Diana’s jewels, but decided that he wanted something made just for her. Prince Charles had also presented the late Princess Diana with a gift when William was born – a necklace of diamonds and pearls with a heart-shaped center, and a gold ‘W’ charm for her bracelet.

Fancy colored diamonds have a tradition for the English royal family, especially pink diamonds. Queen Elizabeth II owns one of the most famous pink diamonds in the world: the Williamson Pink, a flawless diamond of over 54 carats rough given to her as a wedding gift in 1947 by Canadian geologist John Williamson. The rough diamond was cut into a 23.6 round brilliant, which the Queen then had set into a diamond flower brooch.

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The most beloved First Lady of Argentina was as well-known for her charitable endeavours as she was her glamorous image. Eva Perón (fondly referred to as Evita), the wifeEva of the former Argentinian president Juan Perón was a charming beauty who created her own legacy. She rose from humble beginnings in the rural town of Los Toldos to become a recognized actress before finally meeting her future husband. Soon after, she established the Eva Perón foundation, which focused on helping the common people and provided services such as healthcare, education, and community development nationwide. Being very hands-on, she made many public appearances in the name of her Evacharity and was always impeccably dressed; often in French couture, fur, and elaborate jewels.

One of Perón’s most memorable pieces has surfaced again to the public: the headliner at the upcoming October 15th Sale of Magnificent Jewels by Christie’s, the historic brooch depicting the Argentine flag. Featuring brilliant colorless and yellow diamonds and “mystery-set” blue sapphires, it was a custom designed piece for the first lady by the house of Van Cleef and Arpels. The last time it was seen in public was in April 1998, where it sold at auction for ten times its estimate at an astounding $992,500!

Another iconic piece worn in her 1947 official portrait (which was also used in Argentinian stamps in that era) is a Victorian-era diamond necklace set with eleven oval Burmese rubies. It was also sold at auction in 2003 at an estimate of about $200,000. What is unusual, according to experts, is that the entire necklace remained intact – it was common during the 19th century for important pieces of jewelry to be dismantled and remade.

Very recently, Spanish police have recovered a hoard of stolen jewels estimated at approximately $6 million euros.  They organized a sting at the hotel the thieves were staying at in Milan, and they recovered a collection of rings, earrings and a Evafantastic diamond tiara believed to have been given to Perón by the Dutch royal family.

Much like her life, there is a lot of mystery of origin surrounding Perón’s many jewels, which may also be why some of her most treasured jewelry pieces have wound up at high-end international auctions, fetching record-breaking prices for fascinated jewelry collectors and historic collectors alike.

 

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cheapsidehoardfullA treasure that was uncovered 100 years ago by a workman is going to now be on display for the first time next fall in the Museum of London.  The entire chest called the Cheapside Hoard which includes hundreds of gold and gem studded Tudor and Jacobean jewellery.  There are many questions and possible murder mystery tales surrounding this jewellery which makes its value more than just its weight in gold. It also can tell us about the life during this time in London a period from between 1558 to 1625. Some questions that arise are whose jewels were these? Why was it hidden? Why hasn’t it ever been claimed?

It was first discovered in 1912 when it was buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the City of London.  A workman’s pickaxe smashed through the brick floor more than a century ago and it was left forgotten. When an old house was being demolished on Cheapside the hoard was found and remains priceless.

Swan

“Nothing in the world comes close,” said Museum of London curator Hazel Forsyth. He has been studying the pieces for a long time now. Some of the jewelry includes necklaces, rings, brooches, chains, pearls, rubies, fan holders, scent bottles and two carved gems dating back 1,300 years ago. The most delicate of items are fine gold enamel chains with gems on them up to two meters long they were stitched on gowns and hung from collar to waist as a dazzling display. “This collection has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, dismissed as jewelry for the merchant classes,” Forsyth said. “But at this date the merchants were among the wealthiest people in the land; they had far more disposable wealth than the aristocracy.” Along with the massive rubies, and pearls the size of acorns there are sapphires, emeralds and some fake stones made of quartz crystal which have been dyed and carved to look like precious gems.

New research of a specific gem known as “The Stafford Intaglio”, an oval shaped piece of engraved cornelian, suggest the time it was buried between 1640 and 1666.  The engraved piece is a badge of Stafford with a swan and a wreath, there was only one Viscount Stafford by the name of William Howard in 1640.

broochTwo other pieces from the Cheapside Hoard is a salamander shaped brooch set with Colombian emeralds and table cut diamonds from India. The other is a gold enamel ring set with moonstone and engraved with a frog.

Another extremely rare piece is a hexagonal emerald watch, one of the most unusual and decadent pieces found, one of a kind no other in its era had ever been recorded.

All these jewels will be displayed together they are the single most important knowledge of early modern jewelry worldwide.

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Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK (1979-1990) and first and only female PM is one of the 20th Century’s most famous and influential women. She came from modest roots with a dedication to justice and problem solving that took her well beyond the barriers of gender and class to not only be heard but respected in a male dominated world.

The Prime Minister’s stoic nature was reflected in her fashion sense as much as in her political diplomacy. A style that was understated yet defined, consistent while sentimental.

She is most well known for her skirt suits and handbags – standing out from the sea of black and grey men’s suits and briefcases of her contemporaries. She even coined the used of the term ‘handbagging’ which eventually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary to describe Mrs Thatcher’s abrasive style when dealing with those who displeased her. Her handbag for almost 30 years was an Asprey box style in black leather, it was auctioned for charity at Christie’s in 2011 and reached £25,000.

Pearls were another staple. As Meryl Streep who plays her in the 2012 movie, “The Iron Lady” says “I may be persuaded to surrender the hat… The pearls, however, are absolutely non-negotiable”. Ultimately feminine just as the skirt and handbag, the tough player was almost never seen without her pearl earrings and usually the double strand necklace she was given by her husband after the birth of her twins, or a single strand.

In an interview for the Times newspaper in 1975, she is described as wearing “all the jewelry she has—every piece her husband’s gift—two modest rows of pearls (“a present when the twins were born”); a sapphire and diamond engagement ring and a small diamond half-hoop ring; a slim gold watch; a marble-sized amethyst ring on her right hand and a jangle of cairngorms on the wrist; a nice pearl and diamond display brooch on her right lapel, pearl and gold filigree earrings and an aquamarine brooch on the dress under the jacket. Her foulard scarf matched it.”

Her sapphire and diamond engagement rings is re-emerging as a popular style now, especially since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Thatcher’s was smaller than Middleton’s (originally Princess Diana’s), while her amethyst worn on her right hand was oval and much more substantial.

‘Cairngorms’ is the name given to citrine quartz mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It is an amber-brown or richly orange variety used extensively in Scottish jewelry in the Victorian period. The larger sized cairngorms were particularly prized and often handed down through families. Thatcher’s amethyst could also have been from this period and location.

Just as it was a secret what she kept in her handbag, it seems there were private and sentimental stories attached to her daily jewellery also. Iron Lady on the outside, but always maintaining that feminine mystique – what does your jewellery say about you?

What special memory does your bracelet hold for you?

Who do you feel you hold close to your heart when wearing that pendant?

How many generations have worn those pearls?

Which piece of jewellery would most express how much your partner means to you?

Old jewellery heirlooms can be remodelled to suit today’s fashion while still using the stones and metal for sentimentality. Custom jewellery can be made specifically to your design to create a unique statement piece. Look for independent jewelers (they are often more accommodating) in your area and talk to them about your options.

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