Emerald & diamond dragonfly brooch worn at 3 Royal coronations up for sale in London - with £350k price tag
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the brooch to be snapped up and worn by one of the 1,000 guests at the coronation of King Charles III on May 6?”
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A “spectacular” emerald and diamond dragonfly brooch worn at three Royal coronations has gone on sale in London - with a £350,000 price tag. The jewellery was commissioned by the fifth Countess of Rosse, Frances Lois Parsons, to wear at the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in June 1911.
The brooch has since been passed down the family, also being worn at the coronations of George VI and the late Queen Elizabeth II. The countess gave the Crown Jewellers Garrard & Co two Colombian emerald briolette drops from a pair of existing earrings and ordered a brooch to be made out of the jewels.
The pear shaped gems, which weigh around 25 carats, were part of the Rosse family emerald parure, which is a set of jewels intended to be worn together. Set throughout with old cut diamonds, the dragonfly’s lower wings are embellished with a single round emerald and the countess’ own emeralds make up the upper wings.
Through design the wings flutter delicately as the wearer moves, allowing the gemstones to catch the light. The upper wings then detach so they can be worn as earrings, making the brooch the “ultimate versatile jewel”.
At the time, the Mayfair-based jewellers had also been issued with a hugely important commission from Queen Mary, that of creating a crown for her to wear at the coronation. Now known as Queen Mary’s Crown, it will be worn by Queen consort Camilla at the up-coming coronation of King Charles III.
Guy Burton, the managing director of Hancocks, the jewellers selling the precious item, said: “The dragonfly brooch flew in the face of traditional formal jewellery at the time. To have a new jewel commissioned for such an occasion, particularly one of this size and design, was unusual and would certainly have made a significant impact and a real statement.
“The rich green emeralds no doubt proved a vibrant contrast to the deep red of the coronation robes and complimented the emerald necklace and tiara that Frances wore.” He added: “The handwritten note that is pinned inside this original brooch box tells us that the dragonfly was designed by her father, Sir Cecil Lister Kaye, 4th Baronet making it not only a historic jewel but also a truly sentimental one.”
The earrings from the brooch were later worn with the full emerald set to the following coronation of King George VI in 1937. They were worn by Frances’ daughter-in-law Anne Parsons.
Anne married Frances’ son Michael, the sixth Earl of Rosse, and became the sixth Countess of Rosse. She would go on to wear the emerald jewels again in 1953 at the coronation of our late Queen Elizabeth II, meaning these emerald earrings have been present at three of the 20th century’s four coronations.
She even wore the full set to the wedding of her son Anthony Armstrong-Jones who married the late Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, at their wedding party at Buckingham Palace. Mr Burton added: “The dragonfly brooch was a favourite jewel of Countess Rosse, she wore the brooch regularly, along with the other pieces of the parure.
“Images of her wearing the dragonfly show it on evening dresses, cocktail dresses and coats, this was a woman with a passion for both jewellery and fashion. It is thanks to her that we know the details regarding the commissioning of this piece.
“She made careful handwritten notes on the provenance of the Rosse jewels, often on her calling cards, which she pinned inside the boxes of significant pieces.” The single pin brooch up for sale comes in the original Garrard box and is on sale at Mayfair’s oldest family jewellers, Hancocks.
Hancocks London began 174 years ago in the heart of Victorian London. Documented in a company diary, less than a year after his business had been established, Charles Frederick Hancock received a warrant of appointment from Queen Victoria.
From then she and many of the principal sovereigns of Europe became regular patrons. In 1856, Queen Victoria entrusted Hancocks to produce her new medal, the highest military award for gallantry in the British Army.
The making of the Victoria Cross medal is an honour still upheld by the firm today. Mr Burton added: “It is a truly spectacular jewel and would have attracted many an admiring glance, the tremulant setting causing it to quiver and catch the light with every movement she made.
“We are honoured to be offering this remarkable jewel for sale and wouldn’t it be wonderful for it to be snapped up and worn by one of the 1,000 guests at the Westminster Abbey ceremony on May 6? It would be back in its familiar surroundings and in extremely good company.”