London jeweler selling rare ‘dragonfly’ brooch worn at three coronations: Price tag is almost $438K
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An emerald and diamond brooch worn at three royal coronations is for sale in London for £350,000 — or about $437,277 U.S. dollars.
The brooch, in the design of a dragonfly, 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,” news service SWNS reports.
To create the unique piece of jewelry, the Countess of Rosse gave the Crown Jeweller Garrard & Co. two Colombian emerald briolette drops from a pair of existing earrings and commissioned a brooch to be made from them.
King George V and Queen Mary were the grandparents of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and the distinctive brooch was also worn at her 1953 coronation — and at the coronation of George VI, according to SWNS.
The pear-shaped gems, which weigh around 25 carats, were part of the Rosse family emerald “parure” — a set of jewels intended to be worn together, noted SWNS.
“Set throughout with old cut diamonds,” the news service adds, the dragonfly’s lower wings are “embellished with a single round emerald,” while the emeralds of the countess “make up the upper wings.”
The dragonfly’s wings “flutter delicately as the wearer moves, allowing the gemstones to catch the light,” said SWNS.
The brooch is “the ultimate versatile jewel.”
“The upper wings then detach so they can be worn as earrings, making the brooch the ultimate versatile jewel,” it also noted.
At the time of the brooch’s creation, the Mayfair-based jeweler had also been given a “hugely important” commission from Queen Mary — creating a crown for her to wear at her coronation.
Now known as Queen Mary’s Crown, “it will be worn by Queen consort Camilla at the upcoming coronation of King Charles III,” the news service said.
As for the brooch, it “flew in the face of traditional formal jewelry at the time,” Guy Burton, the managing director of Hancocks, the jeweler selling the rare and unique item, told SWNS.
“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,” he continued.
It’s not only “a historic jewel but also a truly sentimental one.”
“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 also said.
Burton added, “The handwritten note that is pinned inside this original brooch box tells us that the dragonfly was designed by [Frances Lois Parsons’] 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” by Lois Parsons’ daughter-in-law, Anne Parsons, to the coronation of King George VI in 1937, noted SWNS.
Anne Parsons married Lois Parsons’ 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,” noted SWNS.
She also wore the full set to the wedding of her son Anthony Armstrong-Jones to the late Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret.
Burton added, “The dragonfly brooch was a favorite jewel of Countess Rosse. She wore the brooch regularly, along with the other pieces of the parure.”
He also said, “Images of her wearing the dragonfly show it on evening dresses, cocktail dresses and coats — this was a woman with a passion for both jewelry and fashion.”
He added, “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 is presented in the original Garrard box and is on sale at Mayfair’s oldest family jeweler, Hancocks.
Burton added, “We are honored 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?”
He also said, “It would be back in its familiar surroundings and in extremely good company.”