Historic Weddings: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco

Happy 59th anniversary to one of the most iconic couples of the 20th century: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco!

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Kelly and Prince Rainier met at the Cannes film festival in 1955, and after spending just a few days together over the next year the Prince proposed! He initially presented Kelly with an elegant diamond and ruby band from Cartier, which you can see her showing off below:

 The newly-engaged Kelly admires her engagement ring. 

The newly-engaged Kelly admires her engagement ring. 

The story goes that Rainier noticed how other elite American ladies preferred humongous diamonds to show off their marital status, and he quickly decided his princess-to-be was in need of an upgrade. Not just a small upgrade, mind you, but 10.47carat emerald-cut upgrade:

 Engagement ring #2: a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond with baguette accents in a platinum setting, also by Cartier. 

Engagement ring #2: a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond with baguette accents in a platinum setting, also by Cartier. 

This whopper of an engagement ring epitomized upper-class luxury so perfectly that Kelly wore it on screen for her role as Tracy Samantha Lord in High Societya film that satirizes the wedding of a wealthy American heiress.

Though Kelly's engagement to a real-life prince with exceptional taste in jewelry may seem like a fairy tale, its worth noting that Grace and her family were required to cough up a $2 million dowry for the privilege of marrying her into the royal family of Monaco. No wonder the Prince had the budget for such an impressive diamond!

Happy Anniversary to Edward VII & Queen Alexandra!

On this day in 1863, Alexandra of Denmark married Edward, Prince of Wales.

In 1901 upon the death of Edward's mother, Queen Victoria, the couple ascended to the thrones of Great Britain as King and Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and Emperor & Empress of India. Though Edward was a bit of a troublemaker, he still holds a special place in our hearts as the namesake of the Edwardian era - a moment in jewelry history when diamonds, pearls and intricate, elegant platinum-work reigned supreme. 

There may have been a few decades between the couples' wedding and their coronations, but we think they aged quite well!

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: Celebrating 175 Years!

Happy 175th Anniversary to Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. They were married on this day in 1840, and their time together influenced the trends of generations. To celebrate, let’s look back on their big day. It should come as no surprise that their courtship and wedding ceremony shaped the nuptial institution as we know it.

Victoria received one of the first engagement rings. A coiled snake was fashioned in gold with an emerald, her birthstone, set into the head. The snake symbolized eternal love, and became a proliferate motif in Victorian era jewelry representing wisdom and fidelity. Birthstone-set rings became a popular choice for engagement jewelry until the late 19th century.

The new queen chose a white dress for her marriage ceremony. Some considered this a conservative choice, as bright colored wedding gowns were the order of the day. White was also worn as a color of mourning at the time, adding to the confusion over her decision. However, less than a decade later, a fashionable bride could wear no other color than pristine white. 

In the image to the right, Victoria is  painted wearing the "Albert" brooch, which features an oblong mixed cut sapphire of an estimated 20-30cts, surrounded by brilliant cut diamonds. It remains among the Crown Jewels to this day.

Victoria gifted each of her 12 train-bearers, or bridesmaids, a turquoise brooch in the shape of an eagle, additionally decorated with diamonds, rubies and pearls. 

Blue was the color of loyalty and faithfulness, which is why the good luck rhyme “Something old, something new…” says a bride is should carry a “something blue” with her. It makes sense that, in this age of romance and sentiment, that a bride should offer the same to her attendants. 

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the third Monday in January, we celebrate the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. A great orator and champion of non-violent activism, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Today, we remember his untimely death, and recall a happier day: that of King's wedding to Coretta Scott on June 18, 1958.

Coretta Scott King continued to lead the civil rights movement after her husband’s death. She also supported the movements for women’s and LGBT rights.

Historical Anniversaries: Leo and Sophia Tolstoy

Today is the 152nd wedding anniversary of literary powerhouse couple Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia. It’s clear that the marriage wasn’t the happiest, but the novels the two produced (Sophia transcribed and edited the massive manuscript for War and Peace seven times!) are pillars of Western literature.

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Such classic dramatic works have long been fodder for Hollywood adaptation. And, they have become one of the most popular ways for us to view what life might have been like during the time that our (now antique) jewelry was produced. Of course, we always expect some dramatic license, such as in Joe Wright’s whimsical adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, but the film’s design definitely pays homage to the early Belle Époque style that is contemporary to the novel. 

 Keira Knightley in Chanel jewelry, in  Anna Karenina  (2012)

Keira Knightley in Chanel jewelry, in Anna Karenina (2012)

 Carey Mulligan in Tiffany & Co. jewelry, in  The Great Gatsby  (2013)

Carey Mulligan in Tiffany & Co. jewelry, in The Great Gatsby (2013)

That said, we would love to see more actual antique jewelry in films about these time periods. In the film Anna Karenina, Keira Knightley wears a diamond necklace by Chanel; the novel was published six years before Coco herself was even born. And, who could forget those Art Deco-inspired pearl bracelets that Tiffany & Co, made for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby? They certainly capture the opulence of the roaring ‘20s, but we know that there are plenty of fabulous examples of vintage Art Deco jewelry around today.  We appreciate that our favorite antique jewelry eras inspire modern design, but we always love the real thing.  

So, whether you have read the book or seen the movie, or just love the jewelry from their past, let’s tip our hats to Leo and Sophia, and their enduring legacy!