Glittering gold accessories spanning six generations of Queens and Consorts on display in Scotland including Queen Charlotte's gold and diamond ring, a bracelet with Queen Victoria's portrait, and a pair of gold, diamond and pearl Tiffany opera glasses. A dazzling selection of gold from the Royal Collection is on display in Scotland in an exhibition at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. It includes exquisite items of jewelry and personal accessories that give an insight into the tastes of six generations of Queens and Consorts.
"Gold" explores and celebrates the qualities of the rare and precious metal through over 60 items from across the breadth of the Royal Collection. Over millennia and across diverse cultures, the material has been used to represent and reflect royal wealth and power, and many of the sacred and ceremonial items associated with the coronations of British monarchs incorporate gold.
Gold, diamond and ruby bracelet with miniature of Queen Victoria, 1839. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
Gold has also been used to create items of personal adornment, luxury collectable objects and even family mementos. A finely engraved gold bracelet, made by royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell and dating from 1839, incorporates a miniature portrait of Queen Victoria by Henry Pierce Bone. It is set with diamonds to symbolize eternity, rubies to indicate passion, and a snake's head for wisdom, and is thought to have been intended as a gift from the Queen to a lady-in-waiting or close relation.
Gold bracelet with portrait miniature of Princess Mary of Cambridge, 1836. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
In the 19th century, jewelers used gold to explore new and experimental decorative techniques. A gold bracelet containing an oval miniature of the two-year-old Princess Mary of Cambridge (great-grandmother of Her Majesty The Queen) was machine cut from a single sheet of rolled metal and decorated with scrolling foliage. The bracelet was later acquired by her daughter Queen Mary (1867–1953), who had a keen interest in genealogy.
Gold bracelet with cameo of Princess Charlotte of Wales, c. 1820. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
She also purchased a gold bracelet produced to mourn the death in childbirth of George IV's only child, Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796–1817), at the age of 21. Mounted with a portrait cameo, the bracelet is formed from a technique known as cannetille – fine wires of gold woven into elaborate designs – and decorated with granulation, tiny beads of gold, or grainti fused to a gold base.
Tiffany & Co., Gold, diamond and pearl opera glasses belonging to King George V and Queen Mary, 1893. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
One of the most elaborate accessories on display is a pair of gold opera glasses made by Tiffany & Co. and presented as a wedding gift to King George V and Queen Mary in 1893. Tiffany was well known for its production of luxury goods, but opera glasses made of gold were particularly rare. The glasses are adorned with pearls and rose-cut diamonds, and have a decorative surface produced by 'engine turning' – a fashionable method of texturing metal employed by both Tiffany and Fabergé in the 19th century.
One of the earliest items of jewelry in the exhibition is a 16th-century commesso (a cameo combined with gold to create a pendant). The piece is in the form of a female bust dressed in a tunic and turban, and is decorated with ruby, garnet, emerald and amethyst. It was recorded as being kept in the seventh drawer of a cabinet at Kensington Palace in a list of 'curiosities' belonging to Queen Caroline (1683–1737), consort of George II.
Gold and diamond keeper ring belonging to Queen Charlotte, 1761. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
A gold and diamond-set 'keeper ring', which served as a guard to a wedding ring, was presented to Queen Charlotte (1744–1818) by George III on their wedding day on 8 September 1761. It is displayed alongside a gold and diamond ring also belonging to Queen Charlotte.
Queen Adelaide's fan, c.1830. [Image credit: Royal Collection Trust. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015]
Exhibition curator Kathryn Jones of Royal Collection Trust, said 'These works of art show the personal associations that royal consorts have had with jeweled gold across several generations. We are delighted to display them in Scotland, as part of this exhibition of items from the Royal Collection crafted from this rare and precious material.' The exhibition "Gold" is at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, until 26 July 2015.
Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual. More info: www.royalcollection.org.uk.
Fashion HistoryCIVIL WAR CLOTHING