I was racking my brain trying to decide what tiara or jewellery set I was going to discuss today. You see, I enjoy posting on my blog so much that I spend the whole day thinking in circles and the torture only ends the minute I start typing. I have made up my mind about three things though; 1- I must pace myself in blogging, otherwise I’ll never get up from the computer and run out of material too soon. 2- I can always type my blogs in Microsoft Word and copy, paste and publish later. 3- We are going to discuss the most expensive emerald parure the world has seen to date!
A parure is a collective noun describing a set of jewellery normally consisting of at least a necklace, earrings and always a tiara. Over and above it can include bracelets and brooches. Take away the tiara and the parure is referred to as a demi-parure. Oops, I should have left that explanation for a Fascinating Friday. Aaah well.
Here follows the story of the fabulous “D’Pont du Lac Emerald Parure”.
Originally made in the late 19th century for the Franconian Princess Helene, Duchesse du Saint Denis, the parure passed upon her unexpected death to her brother who was the pretender to the Franconian throne. It came down the Francian Royal line until it reached the coffers of Her Highness Princess Anne-Marie D’Pont du Lac.
Princess Anne-Marie wearing the other legendary parure of sapphires.
There is no photographic evidence of her in the emeralds.
Princess Anne-Marie married the 12th Baron d’Rothchild and her daughter is the current Grand Duchess Consort of Hanoveria. In 1993 Princess Anne-Marie decided to sell two sets of the D’Pont du Lac treasures to raise funds for her sickly brother’s medical requirements and to curtail some back taxes on his waning estate.
This she did without consulting her son, the 13th Baron, as she did not want to burden him with his uncle’s problems.
The auction of the famous emeralds along with another sapphire parure took place in the city of Londinium. At the last minute the Baron d’Rothchild managed to pull the famous sapphires from the sale but the emeralds came up for bidding. He tried desperately to buy them back but was outbid at the very end by the new Empress Crystobel I of the United Empire of Scot Britania herself. The Empress was considered the wealthiest women in the world and along with her mother, the deceased Queen of Scotney, were well known to be very dedicated collectors of jewellery and art. Nothing would block her if she put her mind on buying anything as she considered herself a custodian for posterity.
The artist and now photographer, Victoria Cruywagen's pre-sketch for the intended state portrait that was never completed. Unless some undiscovered media surfaces, this would be the only record of the D'Pont du Lac Emerald Parure in its original configuration. Take note of the brooch on the left and the two bracelets. The "star" on the red ribband is of the Order of the Diamond Star and not part of the parure.
The parure joined the already vast Imperial Collection and there it stayed, worn only once by the new Empress in a sitting for a state portrait. Then, the revolution broke out and in the aftermath the parure along with many other jewels went missing or ended up destroyed. Their stories were only to be documented now, with the advent of the new era.
Empress Crystobel as we know escaped the massacre, not just with her life and that of her son but managed to save many historical pieces. The emeralds however saved from the fire, did not remain entirely intact. Due to financial necessity, the empress decided to break up the famous set in order to make the stones available for collateral to secure her and her son’s financial future. The stones allowed for several successful investments and could later be redeemed. Upon the Crown Prince Imperial’s marriage, he ordered three sets of jewellery made from this original single parure:
1- The original parure’s necklace and tiara were reset and slightly modernised but they both retain the original “design” however without the upstanding drop pearls and the smaller emeralds. It is referred to as the "Greater D'Pont Du Lac Emeralds".
The Crown Princess Imperial has only worn this part of emeralds once, in January 2012 to her visit to the Hispanian opera.
2-The drop pearls were permanently affixed to an existing plain diamond and pearl tiara, necklace and earrings from the Imperial collection.
The D'Pont du Lac Pearls in their current setting. The necklace however is not featured in this photo.
3- A slightly less imposing emerald parure called the "Lesser D'Pont Du Lac Emeralds" was created from scratch using the remainder of smaller emeralds. The latter was made for Empress Crystobel as a gift of thanks to her from her son. Last year the Prince Imperial added an entirely new set of earrings to his wife’s parure as a gift for her birthday.
Empress Crystobel has often worn her part of the emeralds and is seen here at the Knights of the Realms Meeting 2011 with the complete set.
Sometimes one wishes precious stones could talk. Imagine what your engagement diamond could tell you of the journey it traveled to end up on your finger.