Guest Author · Netherlands


The Dutch Devant de Corsages: The Queen of Brooches–including a scoop!

We are very lucky to have a guest writer for today’s posts, our friend Edwin Fellner from DutchRoyalJewels. You can also find Edwin’s work over at ModekoninginMaxima! Enjoy his fantastic research. Weep over the beauty of pretty things and all of the creative ways the Dutch ladies have worn the pieces from their vault. Edwin, thank you for contributing to Lilibet’s Handbag and for always being such a great support.

Let’s dive in!

We all know Queen Maxima has exquisite taste in jewels and isn’t afraid to show them off. She’s our favorite magpie. In the past few years, she has started wearing the long unseen stomachers, or devant-de-corsages, of the Orange-Nassau vault.

Devant de Corsage“ (DdC) in French means “front blouse” and “stomacher” in English. It is the decorative, often heavily embroidered or jeweled, V-shaped panel of stiff material inserted into the bodice of a woman’s dress, and worn over the chest and ending at a point just above the stomach.

In the 18th and 19th century, DdC were mostly part of a parure and worn together with matching tiaras, necklaces and earrings. Times have changed, and Max is wearing the huge brooches in a different way. If you think Maxima has worn all of the pieces of the Dutch vault, you’re wrong! Still hidden in the royal vault is an unknown brooch, made by Mellerio from Paris, and it waits to see daylight again. We will reveal this large brooch the French jeweler made for the Dutch royal family in Part Two. So join us now for an overview of all of the Dutch Devant de Corsages and large brooches!

#1 The large diamond bow brooch with the big oval sapphire

This diamond and sapphire bow stomacher (or: Sévigné) was given to Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont by the Dutch King Willem III for their engagement on 29 September 1878. The bow brooch features  a very large oval, cushion cut sapphire inherited from the King’s mother Queen Anna Pavlovna, Grand Duchess of Russia and has an  oval sapphire pendant between the ribbons as well.

The maker of this jewel is unknown, but there are indications its French made. Rumors says Oscar Massin was responsible for this jewel, but until now there is no credible proof of this theory. The majestic diamond-set ribbon with three wide loops  can be worn in various ways: the central sapphire is removable and can be replaced (large citrine as seen on the recent post ROYGBIV-Yellow jewels) or worn separately. This bow brooch has been worn together so often with “Queen Emma’s Large Sapphire Tiara“,  it is often believed that this jewel is part of a parure, when it actually is not. The tiara was commissioned  a few years later. Queen Emma left this DdC directly to her grandchild, Queen Juliana.

#2 Queen Wilhelmina’s Sapphire Bow Brooch

The sapphire bow stomacher which was made for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands around 1900. During those times, bow shaped jewels followed a classic pattern with perfect symmetry on either side of an imaginary vertical line. Here, the diamond bow is free and natural. The centre contains a large rectangular Ceylon sapphire, circled with diamonds. These gemstones belonged to Queen Anna Pavlovna and then to Prince Hendrik (brother of King Willem III).  The design of this bow (influenced by the art nouveau that was very popular late 19th century) was quite modern for that time. The first images of this jewel date from 1901, a few years after it was made: Queen Wilhelmina wore the  full version of this brooch. The last public appearance of the complete version was during the reign of Queen Beatrix in 1981 (with a sapphire and diamond pendant attached to the bow) In February 2014, Queen Maxima re-introduced the large brooch again during the “Thank You Party“ for Beatrix, although without the pendant.

#3 The Russian bow with pink diamonds and pearls

This impressive stomacher became part of the Dutch royal collection in 1839, when Princess Sophie of Württemberg married the Dutch crown prince, Willem of the Netherlands. The gemstones of this diamond and pearl jewel belonged probably to the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, mother of Queen Anna Pavlovna of the Netherlands and grandmother of Queen Sophie (first wife of King Willem III). Sophie inherited this jewel from her mother Grand Duchess Catharina Pavlovna, Queen of Württemberg. The jewel has diamond open work or lace work containing six very rare and expensive cushion cut pink diamonds. A pearl and two tassels with pearls along with a small diamond bow are attached to the brooch. Queen Wilhelmina, Juliana, Beatrix and Maxima all wore this stunning piece in different versions. The full version, the version without the pendant but with the three drop pearls or with the three diamonds directly hanging from the bow and the version with the shortened pendant with the pear shaped pearls. This is one of the oldest jewels in the Dutch royal vault.

#4 Queen Emma’s diamond Devant de Corsage

In 1879,Queen Emma received a large stomacher and a riviére from the Dutch population as a national gift. Court jeweler Josephus Jitta (Jitta & La Chapelle) from  Amsterdam designed and created the jewels. The large brooch was designed in a neo-grecque (Greek revival) style. The stomacher contains 214 brilliant cut diamonds and a 30 carat, pale yellow centre diamond. The stomacher has three pendants.(pear shaped in a diamond surround). The large yellow centre diamond can be worn separately as a pendant or brooch. Queen Wilhelmina inherited this set of jewels and during the 1930’s and the riviére was converted into an bandeau. Queen Juliana wore her grandmother’s DdC throughout her reign. Her daughter Beatrix never wore the large brooch. The stomachers three pendants can be used as pendants for earrings and necklaces. Queen Maxima wore the stomacher’s centre diamond as a pendant together with a diamond riviére on the evening before the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. It was our Max again who reintroduced this historical piece in 2018.

Stay tuned for more information and a scoop in Part Two of today’s guest report!

Which of these Dutch devants de corsage delights you? Show us photos of your favorite appearances of these jewels in the comments!