Monday, March 4, 2013

British Royal Jewels: The Delhi Durbar Necklace

The Delhi Durbar Necklace, part of the Delhi Durbar and Cambridge parure, is one of the Queen’s most important and jewels (and given the gems in Her Majesty’s collection, that says something).
The Delhi Durbar Necklace
The cabochon emeralds are surrounded by diamonds, set in two chains of small diamonds, with a single big diamond between each emerald. Originally, a detachable pendant with a pear-shaped emerald was attached to the cushion-shaped emerald centrepiece of the necklace. Later, Queen Mary added a diamond pendant. 

The diamond pendant is the 8.8 carat marquise known as Cullinan VII, one of the nine numbered stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. It is detachable for use with Cullinan VIII brooch, as an alternative to the larger marquise pendant, Cullinan VI. On one occasion, Queen Mary moved the emerald pendant to the shorter chain and placed the huge Cullinan III (part of the “Granny’s Chips” brooch) on the longer chain. To read more about the Cullinan VII diamond, have a look at this post. 
The Duchess of Teck wearing the original necklace with Cambridge emeralds
The necklace also incorporates nine of the famous Cambridge emeralds that were won in a German state lottery in 1818 by the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince Adolphus, The Duke of Cambridge (George III’s seventh son). 

The Duchess had some of the stones made into a necklace which she gave to her daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide. The Princess recounted just how that happened in her journal: “I read with Mama till 2 when we looked at her jewels and she generously has given me her Emerald Necklace”.
Queen Mary wearing the Delhi Durbar Necklace without pendants (left), and with the pendants (middle and right)
The Duchess of Cambridge retained at least eleven emerald drops which were mounted on a different necklace. However, in 1889, the rest of the emeralds were bequeathed to the Princess (by then, Duchess of Teck) as well. 

The Duchess of Teck died without a will and so her jewels were divided between her children. The emeralds (all of the, approximately 30 in total) came into the possession of her second son, Prince Francis. 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Delhi Durbar Necklace
Upon Frances’s untimely death in 1910, it turned out he had left all the jewels inherited from his mother to his mistress, the Countess of Kilmorey. To hush the scandal, Queen Mary swiftly contacted Lady Kilmorey and acquired the emeralds by purchase. 

As a side note, Mary always looked after her brother who was, despite being something of a black sheep in the family, her favourite: on one occasion, she even paid his debt of 10,000 pounds (an incredible sum for the time). 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Delhi Durbar Necklace
With the fabulous emeralds in her possession, Queen Mary commissioned Garrard to create a necklace that would incorporate them and would compliment her already-existing Delhi Durbar parure. The cost of mounting the parure and supplying any new stones required was originally intended to be split between the King and Queen; however, the King met the entire bill as a 44th birthday present for his wife. 

Along with most of Queen Mary’s jewellery collection, the necklace was inherited by Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Since then, the Queen has worn it on numerous occasions, usually with her other emerald jewellery and especially with the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara (when the latter is set with emeralds). 
The Delhi Durbar Necklace and the Cullinan III and IV Brooch. On one occasion  Queen Mary wore the Cullinan III Diamond with the necklace. 
This is one piece that I adore on its own (in pictures or when exhibited) but which somehow disappoints me when actually worn. 

Sources and credit: Royal Collection, Hugh Roberts "The Queen's Diamonds", Suzy Menkes "The Royal Jewels", Leslie Field "The Queen's Jewels". 

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