Westminster Theme Thursday: the Bagration Parure

bagration tiara westminster collectionBuckle your seat-belts, campers! Today’s Tiara Time Westminster Theme Week –yes, I strive to make the event name longer EVERY time I write it– is a whole whoppin’ parure. A feast for Thursday We bequeath to thee! We are of course discussing the Bagration Parure. A parure so complete two fitted cases are required to contain it.

Bagration Parure necklace earrings hair combA fabulous confection of pink-salmony spinels and diamonds mounted on gold, the set flaunts a tiara, hair pendant necklace, matching earrings and a hair comb. There is something undeniably grandiose about the design without the slightest hint of gaudiness. This parure which dates about 1810 was probably a wedding gift. It was attributed to Fossin & Fils, a predecessor of the French jeweler Chaumet.

The tiara and necklace alternate betweeb graduated pendants and clusters of oval and pear-shaped spinels. Each spinel, dangling or fixed) is surrounded by Miner’s cut diamonds. The earrings each a faceted pendeloque spinels suspended within more diamonds of the miners-cut variety.

This splendid parure originally belonged to Princess Ekatarina Pavlovna Bagration, (née Skavronskaia), wife of Prince Pyotr Ivanovic Bagration, a descendant of the Bagration Kings of Georgia. Prince Pyotr was a general in the Russian army; he died defending his country from Napoleon at the battle of Borodino.

Catherine Bagration, Princess Ekatarina

Princess Ekatarina (aka Katherine/Cathrine) was one of Europe‘s legendary beauties, known for her love affairs and distinguished political salons in cities across Europe. (An excellent example being her (fittingly) anti-Napoleonic salon in Vienna during the Congress of 1815.) She was la reine de haute couture, a daily benchmark of fashion her entire life. She was highly anti-Français and pro-Russian in her fashion leanings; her political ones are credited with convincing Austria to ally against Napoleon.

Her beauty attracted many admirers; she had a relationship with Prince Klemens v.Metternich and in 1830 married lord John Hobart Caradoc, second Baron Howden.

The current (sixth!) Duke of Westminster presented this parure to Natasha Phillips prior to their wedding in 1978…and where better to show off the tiara from a two-box parure than atop your wedding veil? [How adorable is her Grace in that picture? Go on, pinch the screen…]

duchess of westminster in Bagration parure for wedding

Fittingly, the Duchess of Westminster is of imperial Russian bloodlines. Her Grace is a descendant of Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich and his wife Sophie von Merenberg, the Countess Torby.

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