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...


Monday, 4 December 2017

FREE Gifts Galore in the #Crooked Cat Advent Calendar!

***Crooked Cat Advent Calendar***

Things have been pretty hectic for me lately and fitting everything in at all of the relevant places has clearly been unsuccessful.

I made mention of the Crooked Cat Advent Calendar on Facebook and Twitter since the 1st December but I've now realised that I didn't pop the details on here. I'm involved in two really important December promotions and one of them is the Crooked Cat Advent Calendar. (The other is the Diamond Tales mentioned in yesterday's post.)

Every single day in December till the 24th, Crooked Cat have a FREE novel for anyone to download. All you have to do is find the cute little Santa on the Crooked Cat Website, click on him to reveal the calendar and click again on the relevant day. Follow the directions to download your FREE copy of the novel.

One of my novels will be available for a FREE download but even I don't know which day so I'm going to be clicking every day to see if there are novels that I can send to my kindle, ones that I haven't read yet. As it happens, I've already read those that were available from Day 1 to Day 4, not a surprise since I truly have read and enjoyed loads of Crooked Cat novels of many different genres.

Keep checking this link every day and get your FREE copy for that day. Of course, if it's not a genre you normally enjoy you can browse the site to see the other kindle/ebooks to buy from Crooked Cat (mostly £0.99- £2.99 /$ dollar equivalents).

The links to both of the December promotions that I'm involved in should be on the sidebar for easy access, so look there and click through every day.

Happy clicking and happy reading!


Sunday, 3 December 2017

#1 The Hope Diamond

The information this month on spectacular diamonds is in addition to the wonderful reads you can find on the daily Diamond Tales  on the Discovering Diamonds Blog. 

For some lucky people a delightful diamond gift for Christmas might be what they receive, if they're very lucky and 'keep their nose clean' (as it were). For others, being presented with a diamond of any size would be completely unattainable so even thinking about it would likely be a waste of precious time.

However, historically speaking, the lure of possessing a spectacular diamond has sometimes been just too much of a temptation and some dastardly deeds have occurred in the acquisition of a fabulous one.

Today's example is 'The Hope Diamond'.

Mystery and rumour surrounds the origins of the spectacular 112 3/16-carat diamond that was said to have been a stunning violet colour ...but it may have been the case that a French Merchant named Jean-Baptiste Tavernier purchased it from the Kollur Mine in Golconda, India

The more dramatic tale is that Tavernier stole the gem from the eye of a holy Hindu statue damaging the stone slightly in its hasty removal.

However he acquired it, Tavernier  subsequently sold it to King Louis XIV of France in 1668. Some years later, in 1749, the stone by then known as the ‘French Blue’ was re-cut into a 67 1/8-carat stone by Louis XV’s court jeweller for the Order of the Golden Fleece. It remained in the possession of the French crown till 1792 when it was transferred from the Royal Treasury into the hands of the Revolutionary Government from where it was stolen during the tense upheaval.

An approx. 44 carat stone of ‘French Blue’ characteristics was owned by a London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason, in 1812. It’s speculated that this diamond was acquired by the British King George IV but was likely sold after his death in 1830 to pay off the enormous debts that the monarch had amassed.

By 1839, the stone reappeared and was known as the Hope diamond, named after the then ‘owner’ Henry Philip Hope, a British financier and gem collector. It remained in the hands of the Hope family till around 1901 when it was sold to a number or people before eventually being bought by Pierre Cartier in 1909. The ownership changed a further two times to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean of Washington D.C. who had it mounted on a headpiece surrounded by a three tiered circlet of white diamonds. She later had it reset again into its current presentation as the centrepiece of a pendant. After she died in 1947, her jewellery collection was bought by Harry Winston who donated the Hope diamond to The Smithsonian Institution in 1958, after it had been sent on a decade long world tour.

The Hope diamond is said to be the largest diamond in a US public institution and available for public view.

It’s interesting to read that it started out as a 115.16-carat diamond and is now assessed as being 45.52. It seems to me that there must be a lot of bits of the original diamond in lots of other jewellery and that mystery would be to know where the pieces are!

As to the curse? Well, if the story is true that Tavernier did steal the jewel from a Hindu statue he must have endured the curse that was set upon the thief by the vengeful priests who discovered it to be missing. What some claim as being a bad aspect to ownership is that King Louis XIV and his Queen Marie Antoinette were both beheaded. 

If you can bear with a site that has lots of adverts etc then you'll find a list of curse victims HERE

You can find more information about the Hope diamond HERE.