Tuesday, February 19, 2013

British Royal Jewels: The Timur Ruby Necklace

The Timur Ruby Necklace is mounted with one of the most historically significant jewels the Queen owns.
The Timur Ruby Necklace: Timur Ruby is the centrepiece, flanked by two smaller spinels
It weighs whooping 352.5-carats and until 1851, it was regarded as the largest known ruby in the world. Apart from its incredible historical value, it is also notable by the fact that some of its previous owners had their name inscribed on the stone.

To begin with, I must clarify that Timur Ruby is not actually a ruby but rather a spinel (incidentally, as is the even more famous Black Prince “Ruby”). The history of the stone is as interesting as it is complicated. Some of it can actually be derived from the stone itself for some of the owners of the magnificent gem inscribed their names and/or additional inscriptions on it.
Timur (Tamerlane) - the first purported owner of the ruby
The spinel takes its name after the great Asian conqueror Timur (or Tamerlane) who is purported to be its first (known) owner. The stone didn't make it into the Royal Treasury until the Great Exhibition of 1851. In recognition of Queen Victoria's patronage of the Exhibition, she was presented with a magnificent selection of stones, including the Timur Ruby. The Queen was very pleased by her gift and on 23 October 1851 wrote in her journal: “They are cabochons, uncut, unset, but pierced. The one is the largest in the world, therefore even more remarkable than the Koh-i-Noor!”

In April 1853 Garrards set four of these rubies in a new diamond-encrusted gold and enamel necklace of Oriental design, with four diamond pendants also from Lahore. The centrepiece of the necklace was the Timur Ruby in all its glory. Two months later, Garrards adjusted the necklace to allow this stone to be detached for use as a brooch and to alternate with Koh-i-Noor diamond. A further change was made upon Queen Mary's request. 
The Timur Ruby: inscription are clearly visible on top centre of the stone
Despite this, the necklace has never actually been worn. Queen Elizabeth is said to be fascinated by the necklace; in fact, she once said that the necklace is so lovely she should have a dress specially designed to wear with it. Unfortunately, like her predecessors, she has never done so. I can see why: not only is it incredibly significant from historical point of view, it may also be viewed as a politically incorrect step to wear a stone with such a rich Indian heritage.

I have written two entries on the Timur Ruby: one here focusing on the brief (sort of) history of the ruby after it appears in the British royal jewellery vaults, and the other at the Den focusing on the extensive, interesting and complicated history of the stone itself. If you are a history fan like myself, read the full article here - The Timur Ruby.

No comments:

Post a Comment