Thursday, December 27, 2012

Focus on... Camilla's Jewels: The Pansy Brooches

As wife of the Heir to the Throne, the Duchess of Cornwall has access to most of the jewels in the royal vaults. Yet her own jewellery collection is no less impressive; there are many beautiful gems Camilla has inherited from her family and has regularly worn since her marriage to the Prince of Wales.
The Duchess of Cornwall's Pansy Brooches
One of those pieces is a pair of pansy brooches the Duchess has worn pretty regularly since her marriage. As with many pieces from her personal collection, there is no definite information on the provenance of this pair as well, however it is virtually certain to be a family heirloom.

Set in 14k yellow gold, colouration is realized in a palette of deep purple and vivid yellow enamel. The brooches have clear rhinestones all around the edge of each petal, with a single pearl nested in the centre, in a small spot of yellow.
Wearing the brooch with her favourite purple suit
The Duchess wearing the brooch with her favourite purple suit
Life-like flowers in enamel in gold were all the rage at the end of Victorian period and beginning of Edwardian, so it is likely this pair is from the time as well. At the turn of the 20th century, the language of flowers was still very popular; flowers, artificial and real, were often given in a special arrangement to convey a “secret” meaning. Pansy was a popular choice as a love token for it means “think of me”. If a single woman found a pansy left for her by an admirer, it meant either “I am thinking of our love”, or “think of our love”.

Camilla has worn the brooches on many occasions before and after her marriage, including Official Visits to Japan (in 2008) and Hungary (2010), the Commonwealth Day Observance Service at Westminster Abbey (in 2012), and not one but two Christmas Day Services at Sandringham (in 2007 and 2012).  
So far, Camilla has come up with three ways of wearing the brooch.
The various ways of wearing the Pansy Brooches
She wears them almost exclusively with her favourite (and much-used) purple embellished suit. For some time, I even wondered whether the brooch might actually be permanently attached to the jacket. Luckily, that’s not the case because the Duchess has since worn the brooches with other outfits too. She’s also pretty versatile regarding the setting of the brooches. Most often, Camilla wears them together, one below the other. Sometimes, however, she wears one on either side of her jacket’s collar, or even separately altogether.

Given the period the brooch (probably) originates from, could it be another Keppel heirloom? And speaking about the period, weren't the Victorians so very romantic? Conveying entire messages through flowers or jewels... Who can resist that? I wish the language of flowers was still used in our times. I once received a bouquet of roses with ferns and baby’s breath and didn't think much of it. That is, until I learnt fern is a symbol of sincerity, while baby’s breath means everlasting love. Aww.

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