tiara time! Victorian Tiara for Sale

victorian diamond tiara

We all know that digesting our Thanksgiving feasts will take a week at least. Good news for your intestines! A week from today, 30 November, Christie’s London will auction off gads of dazzling “important” jewellery. Your Blog Hostess can’t think of a better digestif than buying a tiara.

tiara experts help us procrastinate less

Granted, this blog post postpones a trip to the grocery store that will surely rival the Odyssey in terms of perilous excursions. But why waste time re-wording what the auction house authorities have already divulged?

Modelled as two opposing floral and foliate sprays each entirely set with vari-shaped old-cut diamonds, to the similarly-set fan shaped central panel, mounted in silver and gold, detaching to form two brooches, circa 1880 comprising earlier elements, 19.2cm, in fitted Garrard & Co. Ltd. case

diamond tiara spray close-upUnfortunately, Christie’s has gone single-photo on us…no photos of the tiara in its two-brooch form were divulged. Pikers! [We’ll just crop out our own.] The provance is labelled simply “property of a lady.” Again, way to dish on the details, Christie’s.

So many different cuts make up the tiara’s floral motif, it’s like the Whitmans Sampler of diamonds. Except there’s no risk of getting the one filled with cherry cough syrup…shudder. The Whitmans’ Sampler Tiara [think the name will catch on? We do.] boasts a total weight ranging between 28 and 32 carats.

diamond tiara detail

You know your Blog Hostess always saves the good news for last. [You should also know our default setting is ironic.] The Whitman’s Sampler Tiara is expected to gavel between £25,000 and £30,000 GBP…that’s $31,150 to $43,610 in New World sheckles. Naturally, this paltry price tag does not include buyers’ premium, shipping or handling. But in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Hope your turkey isn’t dry, kids. Joyeux Action de Grâces!

 

Posted in auction news, court and social, diamond, england, those envious gems, tiara time! | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Royal Jinx at 2016 Euro Championships?

King Philippe and Princess Elisabeth Belgium v. Wales

King Philippe of Belgium and Princess Elisabeth cheer on Belgium today

Today’s sysmatic European quarterfinal in which Wales sent heavy favorites Belgium home after a 3-1 defeat caught your Blog Hostess’ attention for more than one reason. (1) Obviously duh, the game was an honest-to-God, edge-of-your-seat matchup. Literally, we were on the edge of the couch. The best our posture’s been in years. (2) We are now convinced that any national team with a royal representin’ will ultimately suffer an untimely defeat at the UEFA European Championships in France. If only Fellaini’s afro had been a little wider in diameter maybe those goal would have gone in…

Belgium, ranked #2 by FIFA even though we all know those rankings are total BS, seemed to have a cake-walk when they drew Wales instead of England for the Euro Quarterfinal matchup. King Philippe and heir-apparent Princess Elisabeth were shocked with the rest of the Red Devil supporters in the stands. This isn’t the first instance of underdog victory against footballers representing a monarchy.

During the round of 16, Prince William expressed his joy that England would be playing Iceland instead of facing off against the animated hair-gel sculpture also known as Cristiano Ronaldo. Yup, we’re in the future also…Unfortunately, the Duke of Cambridge didn’t realize that his prescense at the 3 Lions’ draw against Slovakia had already sealed their fate against the little Ísland that could.

Prince William at England v Slovakia Euro 2016

Prince William suffers Harry Kane’s 88th minute miss

Most of you know that here we don’t gush over the Windsors at all  but those specs on William are terribly becoming. However, your Blog Hostess and most of ITV’s viewership were left wondering what ex-BBC pundit Greg Dyke shouted when Harry Kane’s header didn’t hit home. William has yet to comment on the UEFA unpleasantness.

king felipe at the 2016 European Championships

felipe VI of spain congratulates the Spanish National team after their 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic. “At least I’m not as short as Iniesta,” the monarch reassured.

King Felipe was definitely spotted in the bleachers more than once to root for defending champs Spain this June. We are also 98% certain one of his daughters was in attendance at least once. (Don’t ask us which one, Sofía and Leonor are interchangably indistinguishable unless they stand side-by-side.) Although the ‘seleccion de oro’ has oxidized considerably since 2012, let’s not blame coach Vincente del Bosque, duke of el Bosque, for the early Euro exit. We all know it’s because Spain’s monarch was in the stands. Strange, Felipe still has his job but they told Vinny to hit the bricks.

Prince Carl Phillip at Sweden v Belgium 2016

Prince Carl Phillip watches Ibramovich’s last game

Finally, we come to poor Sweden. No, they weren’t underdogs. Yes, their showing in the tournament was total malarkey and, in a paltry effort to motivate a lackluster squad to victory, Swedish scoring machine Zlatan Ibramovich announced  that this would be the last tournament in which he suited up in canary yellow. Sweden did not advance past the group stage when they failed to beat Belgium. Ironically, Sweden wasn’t jinxed by their monarch or even heir to the throne. Second-born and second-tier royal rep Prince Carl Phillip watched on in Nice. Fun fact, not one but two princes were in attendance. [Cue ‘the Spin Doctors’ if you can stomah it.] Prince Albert of Monaco made the 20-minute drive to watch simply because he enjoys the beautiful game. No image appeared of the man who puts the ‘prince’ in ‘principality’ on international broadcast because Albert was there for the love of the sport, not a political photo-op. Seriously royal personages, who wears a scarf and a suit in late June? Think it through! Yeesh!

As a girl who enjoys billing herself as “more superstitious than a Pisces starting pitcher,” we feel we must implore the Duke of Cornwall to stay home. Charles also enjoys a moniker as prince of a wonderful country that’s having one helluva Euro debut. But please, pretty please, learn a lesson here and don’t attend the semifinal. Make your sons surrender their passports! Watch the match on the telly in the living room if you suddenly espouse Wales. We are simply having too much fun watching the Unselfish Eleven to say goodbye just yet.

Wales celebrates 3-0 win over Belgium

We supposed you could also call Iceland “the Unselfish Eleven.” The two squads probably wouldn’t mind sharing the honorific.

Posted in belgium, court and social, england, royals by zipcode, spain, sweden | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Carl XVI Gustaf’s Birthday, Postal Salute

How better to kick off the King of Sweden’s 7oth Birthday hullabaloo tomorrow than with a 30-year retrospective in stamps! It’s not our first episode of Fun with Stamps but gee is it fun. Especially because dear ol’ Carl Gustaf tends to eschew the humdrum lone-world-leader-in-profile look in exchange for an en-medias-res motif. Like this 1986 stamp below where the mountainous landscape almost distracts from the monarch who just turned 40.

carl gustav of sweden 40th birthday stamp

To be fair, your Blog Hostess is not sure which of the 40th birthday stamps we prefer: Birdwatching Carl G. or paterfamilias. Yeah, it’s just me and the fam, kicking it in gazebo 47. By the way, do you think it’s Victoria or little sister Madeleine who appears to be contemplating quantum physics?

swedish royal family stamp 1986

Besides a visual reminder of just how much the price of a stamp inflates in ten years, we also get to watch the kids grow up! Although I don’t think they did the Crown Princess too many favors in this next rendering for the King’s 50th Birthday.

1996 Swedish Royal Family Stamp

 

It’s not just the royal family, with whom the King is willing to share his stamp monumentalization. Yes, we know it’s not a word! This offering for the monarch’s 50th birthday also features the Albert II, King of Belgium. Nice day for a ride, hey Albie? 

1996 stamp King of Sweden with King of Belgium

 

Ten years ago, the Swedish Post Office attempted to go run-of-the-mill with Monarch in Profile style but instead we get a very Alfred Hitchcock Presents for the Swedish King’s 60th.

stamp for king of sweden's 60th birthday

Okay fine, we’re the only ones who think that’s uncanny? Fine, blame it on the fact your Blog Hostess is only on her third cup of coffee. But finally, we come to the Stamp of the Hour, so to speak. For the King of Sweden’s 70th Jubilee, one solo shot was issued along with this stamp, which they may as well call “Decision 1980, part II.*”

king of sweden 70th and heiresses.jpg

The reigning monarch and the next two in line for the throne, his eldest child and grandchild: Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle. Why is it that the most raven-haired royals magically produce these Children-of-the-Corn daughters? I’m talking to you Felipe VI and Ortiz…

*In 1980, it was decided in Sweden that the eldest child of the King would inherit the throne regardless of available male heir. Now Carl Phillip you can go half-empty or half-full with this one. Did you lose the throne or dodge a bullet? Sounds like a headache you don’t really need. He’s a new dad, looks easy-going, I’m sure C.P. is fine with it all.

 

 

 

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tiara time! art déco bandeau tiara

feathered cartier art deco tiara

If your Blog Hostess hasn’t been all over the auctions like white on rice, well then nobody has…except the jewelry dealers. That’s their job. Yet another Christie’s offering up for bids in Geneva May 18th, we have this bad boy diamond bandeau tiara, whose only provenance is the nebulous description “Property of a Lady.” Gee, thanks for the back story, Christie’s.

Unlike the many of the other pieces to be sold in this Cartier auction, like the Oppenheimer Blue predicted to fetch $50 million or the pirate’s booty chest collection belonging to ex-Her Serene Highness Princess Gabriela zu Leiningen—this Art Déco circlet will not be on display in New York prior to next month’s hammer wars. [That’s what we’re calling them now. Don’t like it? Get your own hammer & meet us behind the school gym at 3:15…]

cartier art deco tiara, 1920

click to enlarge. All photo credit here and below: Christie’s

Described simply as “An Exquisite Art Déco Diamond tiara, by Cartier,” this diadem—plume optional—has a frame structured in platinum and gold, according to its Frenchclose-up of pear diamond center in cartier art deco tiara assay stamps.

Christie’s has set the gavel estimate based on what Queen Geraldine’s Diamond Tiara fetched not two weeks ago, somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000 USD. We understand that tiaras are growing far more scarce but this one does not even offer an official history, a glamorous owner can fetch those quarter-million dollar price-tags. But we’re comparing a queen to a vague lady from specifically nowhere.

But talk of money is so gauche. Let’s talk shiny rocks! 
Sandwiched between two rows of old European and Rose-cut diamonds, a parade of arches, composed of more old-cut diamonds, taper off gently in size from the center outward. Making a statement in the center—again, feather optional—is an inverted 4.31 carat, pear-shaped diamond. Those upside-down pear-shaped diamonds will always look like explanation marks to us but do not be mislead by our overactive imagination. No, we would not turn our nose up at anything in the Art Déco tiara arena…ever.

At least this tiara doesn’t remind us of the classic Stone’s album “Goats’ Head Soup” when we contemplate it. And no, we wouldn’t turn Geraldine’s tiara down just because it features a noble mountain goat.

close-up of cartier art deco bandeau archesThe tiara was made in 1920 and is signed “Cartier Londres Paris New York”, with a maker’s mark for Atelier Renault. We have Googled this and all that comes up is the Renault F1 webpage for the self-styled “bright space celebrating [the] car maker, with restaurant & events including televised Grand Prix races and race car-themed restaurant,” located on the Champs-Élysées. Oddly a venue that would appeal much more to my aerospace engineer brother than his jewel-monger sis.

It’s previous owner was labelled simply “a lady of title” but nothing else was divulged on the Christie’s website.

Update: This Art Déco halo sold for $409,224 (401,000 CHF) on May 18, 2016. Your Blog Hostess was stunned that it fetched so much provoking the question: who was the aforementioned “Lady of Title”?

Posted in auction news, court and social, diamond, other glittery events, those envious gems, tiara time!, tiara updates | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

tiara time: Queen Geraldine’s Coronation tiara

diamond tiara once belonging to Geraldine, Queen of Albania

A diamond tiara once owned by the Queen of Albania came to the block this Tuesday at Sotheby’s New York. The auction house estimated the Ostier tiara to fetch between $30,000 and $50,000. But how could a tiara once owned by a queen not gavel for far more? How much more, you ask? $180,000 was the hammer price but that pesky buyer’s premium brings the grand total to $225,000. (Old Blighty translation: £160,910 or €207,864 for those of you on the Old Continent.)

Geraldine of Albania in the Skanderberg Tiara

Queen Geraldine in her wedding gift tiara. credit: Sotheby’s

Naturally, last Sunday, your Blog Hostess and the Right Honorable Mr. Blog Hostess headed down to one of the viewing sessions prior to the Magnificent and Noble Jewels auctions. All photo & video credits unless otherwise noted are the exclusive property of Emilio Zarco, trademark, copyright, rights of use in perpetuity.  Yes, they allowed your Blog Hostess to handle it but no–just like when we examined the Art Deco Kokoshnik of Híjar–they do not let you try it on. No, we didn’t ask but we wanted to appear like a serious jewelry shopper not a six year-old at Disney.

geraldine of albania tiara

The tiara was made as a wedding/coronation gift for Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy, a Budapest-born daughter of a Count, whose beauty earned her the moniker “the White Rose of Hungary. See Queen Geraldine glitter past in the diamond tiara below. Queen Geraldine…we all know your Blog Hostess isn’t getting sick of that rhyme any time soon.

Queen Geraldine in her Skanderbeg Diamond Tiara

The gold frame is set with European and circular cut diamonds totaling just over 28 carats while the baguettes used to create the flower stems weigh in at 4.8 carats.

albania diamond tiara detail 2

No, you’re not ‘shrooming, the tiara does feature a goat’s head and, yes, the temptation to call it the “Goat’s Head Tiara” is staggering. It’s actually a ram’s head that sits atop a skanderberg ram albaniabandeau of Albanian wildflowers. The Ram of Skanderberg was the chosen symbol of the Albanian Royal family by Zog; the newest monarch in Europe actually added Skanderborg to his name thus attaching himself to the eponymous national hero, a nobleman and warrior from the 15th Century.

The use of the ram is explained beautifully by the jeweler herself, Marianne Ostier, descended from 3 generations of Hapsburg court jeweler, in her book Jewels and the Woman,  

…at the bridal coronation of Queen Geraldine of Albania, Geraldine was a Roman Catholic countess betrothed to a Mohammedan king. A albania tiara detailroyal crown usually bears a symbol of the monarch’s faith…religious motifs in the ornamentation…my problem was to establish a royal but not a religious motif.

I found it in the crest of the Kings of Albania. This bears the stylized head of a rare mountain ram, which roams the snowy peaks of the beautiful Albanian mountains. A sculptured head of the ram I had encrusted with diamonds and set in the centre of the tiara; this tapered down to a border of white roses made of diamonds, the leaves fashioned of diamond baguettes—a decorative and distinctive crown for [a] decorative & distinguished queen.

 

Last week was the second time Geraldine’s Diamond Tiara made it to the auction block.

Back in the 60s, pharmaceutical mogul Elmer Holmes Bobst procured this tiara so his wife Mamdouha could wear it to a 1966 dinner at the White House. . Friends said that Mamdouha–great name, sure there’s a story there–always wore her finest jewels when invited to events, considering it the ultimate compliment or way to honor her hosts. Your Blog Hostess is unsure how she feels on this policy.Jealous? Yeah, that’s probable. A lavish vintage of the bubbles would suffice in the Blog Household.

Momdouha wearing the Skanderbeg tiara

Mamdouha in the White House avec Queen Geraldine’s tiara.

behind the tiara: Zog plus Geraldine sitting’ in a tree plus a monarchy crumbles.

In 1932, King Zog of Albania saw the débutante photo of a Hungarian-born countess, Princess Sophie of Albania in the Goat TiaraGeraldine Apponyi, the 17 year-old was dressed as Mimi from La Boheme. It was love at first daguerrotype. After her 21st birthday, Geraldine, impoverished and working at a library in Budapest, received a letter from Princess Senji, King Zog’s favorite sister, inviting her to court. Princess Senji (see left) was scouting Europe for the best blue-blooded beauty to be her brother’s queen. The young countess had everything on Zog’s wish list: beautiful duh, didn’t see that one coming; of noble birth check; and most importantly she was not recommended or sponsored by Mussolini who had greedy designs on Albania. The invade-y kind.

In December of 1937, Geraldine was received at the port of Durrësi by limo escort. The car squired her to a villa, each room of her quarters replete with red roses. Later, the king came by the villa to finally speak to the teenage costume party-goer that he’d fallen in love with via photo. Zog and Geraldine “talked” all night and when she woke the next morning more fresh roses, this time in the shaped into a colossal heart, awaited her. Now I know that you hipsters are all jaded when it comes to traditional romance but before you turn your nose up at red roses remember that this is Albania in the 30s in December. They were not easy to come by…

Geraldine on her wedding day dressed in traditional garb

credit: Wikipedia

By 4:00 in the afternoon, Geraldine had accepted Zog’s proposal in marriage. The King still gave her 10 days to reconsider; 10 days brimming with jewelry and flowers. Geraldine didn’t change her mind; the engagement ring was 40 carats. Her wedding dress was made by Worth of Paris. The tiara though a bridal gift was not the diadem of choice when Geraldine and Zog wed on February 19, 1938. Her attire is much more reminiscent of traditional Albanian folk brides. (See right.)

Ominously, the House of Zoga’s reign was doomed since the wedding ceremony. Il Ducce sent his son-in-law Count Galazzo Ciano as witness to the ceremony. The Count left the wedding night for Italy to relay a message cynically, invade. Some guest? What was his wedding gift? Dirty sock filled with soap bars? Anyone who remembers their 10th grade history chapter on Eastern Europe knows Mussolini liked what he heard. On April 16, 1939 King Zog was officially deposed and the Constituent Assembly proclaimed Vittorio Emanuele III the new King of Albania.

In the months she was briefly queen, Geraldine of Albania did her best to help the perilously rural country. Under the House of Zoga, Albania acquired a school system, worked to install a hygiene program in the country’s remote mountain villages. They attempted to standardize a language from several tribal dialects. Here, the King and Queen are seen meeting with the Chieftains of the Albanian Tribes…she is also wearing the Diamond Goat’s Head Tiara…

King & Queen of Albania in 1939

credit: Getty Images

There had even been the beginnings of a road network before February of 1939. Zog learned that Italy was planning to divide Albania with Yugoslavia. It all fell apart in a series of days.

On April 5, Queen Geraldine gave birth to their only child, Prince Leka. On the sixth, panic settled in Tirana as the Italian community began to empty the city. An Italian general arrived at the royal palace with the official ultimatum. If Zog wanted to retain any semblance of his royal status he would have to make concessions basically turning Albania into an Italian province. The same general came by later that afternoon with the ambassador to wish their congratulations upon the royal birth, then asked Zog’s decision.

Queen Geraldine and her tiara on Paris Match

courtesy: Paris Match

The family prepared to flee across the Greek frontier towards Turkey then Romania. Queen Geraldine, weak and bleeding from childbirth was carried down to the car and bundled away in the night with her sisters-in-law and her infant son. Over the course of the war the Albanian Royal Family bounced around Europe, eventually finding Great Britain to be the safest haven, even during the carpet bombings. Although not officially recognized in the UK or the US as a head-of-government-in-exile, Zog of Albania was known in London for this poker parties.

the 3rd girl who got the Ram of Skänderborg 

Here’s where things get really weird. During their years in exile, the CIA uncovered that King Zog had been sleeping with Princess Senji, his 3rd and favorite sister of the six he had. More bizarre is the fact that the Queen knew about the brother-on-sister action and was ostensibly unfazed.

Senhi, Princess of Albania

It isn’t so far-fetched to conclude that this portrait, supposedly taken in Italy, was taken during their affair? It seems so odd that anyone besides the Queen would wear a coronation tiara…upon closer inspection it looks like a different tiara. The ram’s horns face the right, not the left.

Zog died in 1961, Leka became claimant to the throne. In 1973 he married Susan Cullen-Ward, daughter of a wealthy Australian entrepreneur. It was said the the Dowager Queen was “radiant in a elegant little tiara and a powder-blue dress.” We know it wasn’t her Diamond Coronation tiara, it had already been sold.

 

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Prince Carl-Phillip & Princess Sophia Welcome Royal Son

Stockholm, April 19, 2016:  At 6:25 pm local time, Princess Sophia gave birth to a baby boy in Danderyd Hospital. Prince Carl Philip, the 2nd of King Karl Gustav and Queen Sofia’s children, was present for the entire delivery. You go Carl! We don’t think we could stomach it! A few hours later the Prince announced the royal details for the press.

april 19, 2016, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden announces birth of his new son who we will call Prince Värmland until further notice

No, he is not describing the fish that got away.

The new baby prince tipped the scales at 7.9 pounds and was approximately 19.3 inches long. (We guess these numbers mean more to those who have given birth themselves.) Carl and Sofia’s new prince is 5th in line to the throne of Sweden following his aunt, Crown Princess Victoria, his cousins Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar and, lastly, his own father.

the duke and duchess of värmland with the new prince

the duke and duchess of värmland with the new prince

The Duke and Duchess of Värmland have already returned to their new home at the royal residency Djurgarden Palace with their son, to whom we will refer as Prince Värmland until further notice. The couple had recently vacated their luxury apartment on the Stockholm island and moved 14 miles west into the private grounds of the royal palace.

sjopaviljongen lake villa

Sjöpaviljongen

Carl Philip and Sofia live in Sjöpaviljongen, a quaint 18th Century cottage whose name translates to “lake pavilion,” about a quarter-mile from the palace itself. The new family will stay at the lake house until renovations on Villa Solbacken–also on Djurgarden Island–are finished.

Either way, we are still waiting on for the name and that famous cannon salute. It did not take this long when Prince Oscar was born about a month ago.

Prince Carl Philip married Sofia Hellqvist less than a year ago on June 13, 2016. Sofia had an “interesting” past which included such occupations as “glamour” model and reality show contestant. In 2007, she moved to New York to study accounting with computer application and other generic-sounding corporate stuff. Hellquist also started a yoga studio in Manhattan.

The new Princess has been very active all throughout her pregnancy and has looked smashing too.

pregnant sofia in spearmint tiara

At the 2016 Nobel Prizes:

PrincessSofia2016nobel

 

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Princess’ Jewelry Up For Auction too

If it isn’t enough that Shirley Temple’s blue sapphire ring, the Queen of Albania’s Coronation tiara and jewels owned by the Duchess of Windsor are all up for bids this month, in May 2016 Christie’s Geneva will feature some of the amazing baubles from Gabriele, Princess zu Leiningen.

Gabrielle was previously married to Prince Karl-Emich zu Leiningen and later to his Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, 49th Imam of the Ismaili, so that flawless, D color diamond ring isn’t surprising.

Your Blog Hostess is not sure why she still retains the title of Princess zu Liningen as her marriage was dissolved in 1998, but it sure works as a selling point for Christie’s.

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