I beg forgiveness for allowing Theme Week Amethysts Ahoy! to go off the rails like that but Tuesday was your Blog Hostess’ anniversaire and the blogging just didn’t come together. Indeed, I threw some form of the Marie Antoinette Birthday. Champagne Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée 2003. So yeah, I Marie-Anoinett-ed the shit out of that birthday…as illustrated by my inability to write a post yesterday as well.
“Siberian amethysts,” as so gracefully described by tiara expert Geoffery C. Munn, “are the considered the finest in the world because of the red and blue highlights seen in the deep purple body of the stones.” See? I could try to rephrase that, but I couldn’t put it any better.
The story behind the Siberian Amethysts of Londonderry is a bit salacious but no there’s no solid scandal in the catalogue. Tsar Alexander I became hopeless smitten with Lady Frances Anne Vane upon seeing her portrait. Lady Vane was the second wife of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry and, therefore, quite unavailable. In order to catch her eye, the Tsar lavished these 14 identical and perfect Siberian Amethysts on the Marchioness of Londonderry. (See above right.)
Naturally, such unmitigated attention charmed the petticoats off of the Marchioness (how could you resist?) She had them nestled into diamond-set clusters to form a long stomacher. (left) Somehow—this is where both the language and information get a bit vague—the Marchioness “managed to end the love affair ‘innocent of guilt’.” Whatever that means…
These jaw-dropping candies were probably “converted into a tiara (below left) in honor of the succession of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry in 1915,” (Munn, 275). I find this excessively odd considering the original designs for the tiara, made by E. Wolfe & Co. are dated August 1916. (See top left, background.)
These baubles are still in the possession of the Marquess of Londonderry to this day, a decent indicator that there were no hard feelings between the Marquess and the Marchioness over whatever did or did not transpire between Lady Frances and the tsar. Besides, who could give those plumsparklers up?
Munn, Geoffrey C. Tiaras: A History of Splendour. The Antique Collectors Club, Suffolk, U.K., 2001.
- Marquess of Londonderry (sourcewatch.org)