Thursday 14 December 2017

#2 Diamonds and Valkyries!

Diamonds and Valkyries!

My intention was to post something about diamonds a few more times before Christmas but the joys of meeting up with old friends from my primary school days was way too appealing to miss, so having been AWOL a few days I'm now back to my keyboard harness and addressing that lack of posts.  

I haven't totally forgotten to promote the Discovering Diamonds Blog December 'Diamonds' feature  during the last few days though it wasn't as often as I'd intended to ( my work will appear there on the 16th Dec). I had earmarked a 'diamond' topic to post early this week but one of my daily newspapers 'The National' had a feature yesterday that caught my eye as being completely appropriate to my theme of diamonds. It was all about Valkyrie imagery set into an impressive piece of jewellery.

Arthur Rackham- Wagner Das Rheingold

Those famous winged helmets as depicted above by Arthur Rackham are so iconic for Valkyries. The feature in the newspaper, however,  was about another interpretation of a Valkyrie winged headdress.

Who would not be startled by this image in that newspaper of such an amazing headpiece?

image from 'The National' Newspaper

The combination of stunning diamonds and Valkyrie imagery is redolent of the operatic symbolism of Wagner’s ‘The Ring Cycle’ so I was delighted when I read about the forthcoming possibility of viewing a superb piece of jewellery which will be shown at the brand new Victoria and Albert Museum of Design (V & A ) in Dundee in 2018.

Click here to watch a video of this stunning tiara. 
The diamond winged tiara features more than 2500 diamonds—yes; you read that correctly—set in a gold and silver frame. It truly is a spectacular piece that is currently owned by a private collector who believes its splendour should be shared by the viewing public.

The piece was created by diamond maker extraordinaire Cartier in C. 1935 for a wealthy Scottish aristocrat. Designed to mimic the imagery of Valkyrie mythology, the two wings can be detached from the headband and can be used as separate brooches, or used in tandem. It was designed and made for Mary Crewe-Milnes, Duchess of Roxburghe. Mary, a member of the Rothschild family, was a high society figure who attended the current UK Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation as a train bearer in 1947. (I’d have to research further, or watch footage of the ceremony, to see if she wore this stunning piece during that ceremony, though I think it would have been way too showy for such an event!)

Mary Crewe-Milnes married into Scottish aristocracy in 1935 becoming the wife of the Duke of Roxburghe and settled into Floors Castle. Their happy lifetime was not to be, however, and if sources are accurate, they had a tempestuous and acrimonious marriage split. She did not seem inclined to leave the seriously impressive Floors Castle but the Duke took some interesting lengths to force her to vacate the marital home. He succeeded and, I believe, she eventually settled in London after being granted a divorce on grounds of his adultery. That personal story can be read elsewhere on the internet. 

Mary Crewe-Milnes, ‘former’ Duchess of Roxburghe died in 2014 at the age of 99. Her spectacular headpiece is now being put on display to be shared by the general populace who visit the museum collection. I intend to visit Dundee when the new museum opens and will hope to view this wonderful piece of jewellery.

The ‘feathered’ wings of the tiara are set in coiled springs to flutter when the wearer moves her head. 

More about diamonds to come...


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