Handbag Mystery Hour – Princess Margaret and Her Jewelry

Hofdame Note: It’s the last hurrah of summer here in the U.S., so we will be taking Monday and Tuesday off for our Labor Day celebration. Also, we have some exciting lead-up to Daisy’s Golden Jubilee celebrations next week, so things are moved around. Bits will resume next Wednesday! Check in Monday and Tuesday for quick, fun posts if you are around. In the meantime, here’s a series of small mysteries for you to ponder over this long weekend.

There’s no denying that Princess Margaret was one of the most glamorous royals of her time. Her stash of jewels was worn at one fabulous outing after another. However, her children were destined to live lower-profile lives, and after her death in 2002 they made the decision to auction 192 pieces of her jewellery.

There are a few pieces that weren’t part of the auction and that haven’t shown up on any of the royals. Those are the mysteries we are focused on today.

Persian Turquoise Parure

This tiara was designed by Garrard in the early 1900s and entered the British Royal family through that acquisitive magpie, Queen Mary. The Queen purchased it as part of a set that included a necklace, brooch, and earrings. The tiara originally had a row of diamonds along the top, giving it a kokoshnik effect.

With top row of diamonds

It was gifted to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as a wedding present, and it was she who removed the top row of diamonds. In turn she gave it to her younger daughter for a 21st birthday gift. The tiara has a little bit of everything: turquoise stones, diamonds, lover’s knots, laurel wreaths, and torches of love. Margaret wore the entire set frequently to white tie events.

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This parure wasn’t among the auctioned items, but where is it? It has been theorized that it’s with the Queen, with one of Margaret’s children, or even with the Duchess of Cambridge. Hopefully we’ll see bits and pieces of it at some point.

Engagement Ring

Antony Armstrong-Jones designed a unique and personal engagement ring for Princess Margaret. It featured a “sumptuous pink-red” ruby as the center stone, surrounded by large old-cut diamonds. The ring depicted a rosebud, which was a reference to Margaret’s middle name, Rose.

It was not part of the auction, and is believed to be in the possession of one of Margaret’s children. It has not been seen publicly since the Princess’s death.

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Teck Diamond Hoop Necklace

This one is a traveler, folks. The necklace was believed to originate in the 1860s, and the first recorded wearer was Queen Mary’s mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck, who wore it stacked with many other necklaces.

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It was apparently lent out to the Marchioness of Cambridge – Mary Adelaide’s daughter-in-law and Queen Mary’s sister-in-law – around the time of King George V’s coronation. It then showed up mounted on a tiara frame on Queen Elizabeth in the thirties, and she continued to wear it as a tiara into the forties. Princess Margaret was the next one to wear it, and she reverted to using it as a necklace.

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It was last reported to be with David Linley, although his wife never wore it publicly. It is unknown whether it’s still in his possession, but perhaps that will be answered if his daughter wears it as a necklace or tiara.

Sapphire Bandeau Tiara/Brooch

Queen Mary purchased this tiara in 1921 at an auction, where it was listed for sale by Princess Nicholas of Greece (nee Elena Vladimirovna). Information on the tiara prior to this event is murky – it’s been said to have come from the collection of Empress Marie Feodorovna, or from Princess Nicholas’s mother, or from some other Russian exile, or from none of those sources. Whatever route it took, Mary ended up with it. Maybe she was entranced by its versatility, since you could remove the giant sapphire and wear it as a brooch.

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The Queen inherited this tiara along with most of Queen Mary’s jewels. It was apparently on a long term loan to Margaret, who wore both the tiara and brooch options frequently. Then it disappeared back into the vaults where it hopefully still resides.

Right now to say times are tough in Britain is an understatement, so we are unlikely to see a lot of flashy jewelry in the near future. However, times change, and maybe someday we’ll some of these again.

Which of these would you most like to see resurface? (Choose as many as apply!)