Thursday, March 14, 2013

Focus on... Camilla's Jewels: Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch

This lovely brooch is a family heirloom that once belonged to Queen Victoria.
Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch
The Diamond and Sapphire Brooch was given to Victoria by her Hesse grandchildren – namely, Princess Victoria (later, Marchioness of Milford Haven - the Duke of Edinburgh’s grandmother), Princess Elizabeth (later, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia), Princess Irene (later, Princess Henry of Prussia), Prince Ernst Ludwig (later, Grand Duke of Hesse), and Princess Alix (later, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia). 

At the time the gift was made, it was described as a "brooch with an open pendant heart of diamonds bearing in the centre the number "60" in Slavonic characters. It has on the top a cabochon sapphire and two large sapphire drops." The description matches this brooch perfectly, so there is no doubt in my mind it is one and the same (thanks to Noel Q. for noticing the third sapphire on the top which I somehow missed).
Queen Victoria's Hesse grandchildren who presented the brooch on the occasion of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
The gift was on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. However, it remained unseen and unworn until the Duchess of Cornwall debuted it in 2007. 

Camilla has worn this exquisite brooch only when abroad. The first time was during her and Prince Charles’s Tour of the United States in January of 2007. The jewel didn't make an appearance for another two years, until the Duchess wore it at a reception in Canada in November of 2009. 
The Duchess of Cornwall wearing the brooch in the United States in 2007 (left), and in Canada in 2009 (right)
The last (to date) appearance was fairly recently, in March of 2012: the Duchess of Cornwall donned it in Norway, during the Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Scandinavia. A jewel given to one diamond jubilee Queen worn during the diamond jubilee celebrations of the other: very subtle and appropriate, wouldn't you agree? 

I really love this brooch; it is quite possibly one of my favourite jewels worn by the Duchess of Cornwall. I mean, you have history and provenance + diamonds + gorgeous sapphires + excellent craftsmanship. What else a jewellery lover can ask for? 
The Duchess of Cornwall wearing the brooch during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee visit to Norway
Remember, this whole week is dedicated to the Duchess of Cornwall’s jewellery collection. You can always check out jewels already covered here.


  1. Hello from the Philippines, Artemisia! I've been a lurker for some time and I always look forward to your blog posts. They are very informative and you have so many pictures I haven't seen before. Thank you for your effort.

    I just want to ask a question: in this post you said "The sapphire on the top of the brooch is nowadays missing but everything else corresponds perfectly to the description." However, in all the pictures you posted I can actually still see a sapphire on top of the brooch. Are you referring to another, bigger sapphire which was removed and replaced by this one? Or did the duchess recently use this brooch with the sapphire on top already removed?

    More power to your blog!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Noel! I am glad you enjoy the articles here: I'll try to keep them as interesting as possible.

      You are absolutely right: there is a cabochon sapphire on the top of the brooch. Somehow, I managed not to notice it in the pictures and, believing it was removed at some point, marked it as missing. Already corrected that, so thanks a lot for spotting!

      Greetings from Armenia! :)