Sunday, March 10, 2013

British Royal Jewels: Queen Victoria’s Turkish Rosette Necklace

Queen Victoria was given a personal gift of a large number of diamonds by Sultan Mahmud of Turkey in 1838. The following year, the Queen commissioned Rundell & Bridge, the firm that held the royal warrant at the time, to create a necklace and earrings using some of the diamonds. Because of the provenance of the stones, Victoria referred to the set as “my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings”. 
Turkish Rosette Necklace

The necklace featured three diamond rosettes – one large and two smaller ones – connected to each other by three strands of diamonds. At the back, two large oval diamonds connected via two rows of diamonds to the smaller rosettes on one side, and to the clasp on the other. The clasp itself featured a massive diamond in a frame of smaller stones. 

The earrings were equally elaborate and featured two small rosettes connected to each other with three rows of diamonds. Victoria was fond of the set and wore it to some of the most important occasions in her life, including her wedding and christenings of some of her children. 
Queen Victoria wearing the Turkish Rosette Necklace and Earrings on her wedding day (left), and when posing for an official portrait
She gave the necklace to her third and favourite son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. It was likely among the wedding gifts to his wife, Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia. The Duchess of Connaught wore the necklace to several important historic events, including two coronations: the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896, and the coronation of George V in 1911. 

In her last will, the Duchess made several provisions for her daughters (Margaret of Connaught, later Crown Princess of Sweden, and Patricia of Connaught, later Lady Ramsay), but left most of her formidable fortune to her only son, Prince Arthur: “All my property real and personal … to my son for his absolute use and benefit in the hope but without intending to create any trust that as regards certain articles of jewellery and furniture he will distribute them in accordance with a memorandum I shall leave for him." 
The Duchess of Connaught wearing the Rosette Necklace
It is very likely the Turkish Rosette necklace was thus inherited by Prince Arthur and was presumably worn by his wife Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife (she was a Duchess in her own right, and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria). Unfortunately, there are no portraits or photographs of Alexandra wearing the necklace. 

Upon Prince Arthur’s death, the necklace remained in Alexandra’s possession. She outlived both her son (who was unmarried and without issue) and her sister, Princess Maud, Countess of Southesk. Alexandra thus bequeathed most of her fortune, including her jewellery collection, to her nephew, James Carnegie, who was also her heir to the Dukedom of Fife (he became 3rd Duke of Fife upon Alexandra’s death). 
The Duchess of Connaught wore the necklace to two coronations: Nicholas II in 1896 (left), and  George V in 1911 (right)
The Duke of Fife was married to the Honourable Caroline Dewar, although they have since divorced (she later remarried Sir Richard Worsley). During her tenure as the Duchess of Fife, Caroline isn’t known to have ever worn the necklace. 

Nevertheless, the necklace remained with the family until it was auctioned as part of the “collection of His Grace The Duke of Fife” in July of 1970. The magnificent necklace was sold for £23,000 (between £350,000 and £450,000 in today’s money). Its current owners are unknown.


  1. I think there are photos of Princess Alexandra Duchess of Fife her wearing the necklace at the coronation of King George VI in 1937

    1. Alexandra wore a somewhat similar but different necklace to George VI's coronation - a two-row diamond necklace.

      Thanks a lot for taking the time and posting of the possibility. :)

    2. Thank you for responding - I agree with you as on closer inspection and on an enlarged photo I was mistake and assumed it had been shortened

      Your site is excellent and thank you for creating it.


    3. Thank you very much for commenting, Jonathan! I always appreciate feedback on any of the articles. :)

  2. Hi A! do you know which tiara the Duchess of Connaught is wearing at the George V coronation? I've not seen it before. Tangoskater

    1. Unfortunately, no. Absolutely nothing is known about the tiara, its provenance or current whereabouts. Which is a shame because it really is a lovely piece.

  3. I've heard that the earrings from this set are with the Norwegian royal family. Can you confirm this??

    1. Unfortunately, I cannot.

      It is believed that the earrings, along with the necklace, were inherited in the Connaught and later Fife line. However, an alternative theory suggests that the earrings might have made their way into the Swedish Royal Family (the grandmother of the current King of Sweden, Margaret of Connaught, was the daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn - Queen Victoria's son).

      I have never encountered the suggestion the earrings might be with the Norwegian Royal Family, nor do I find it likely.

      My apologies for not being very helpful; unfortunately, as with many of Queen Victoria's jewels, there is very little definite information on this set as well, especially the earrings.