Lavish gifts of jewels from fiancé, family and friends celebrated
a new bride's wedding day. Weddings are a time of tender feelings
and delightful anticipation enhanced by happy preparations.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the rich were expected
to put on a show, and bridal gifts were proudly displayed at the
wedding reception. Newspaper and society columns printed detailed
lists of the gifts received by the bride with intricate engravings
of the most spectacular pieces, a practice that ended in the 20th
century when it became obvious this was an open invitation to thieves.
The presents to the future Queen of Great Britain, Princess Mary
of Teck, were first displayed at White Lodge, the home of her parents,
during a garden party to the invited guests. They were later moved
to the Imperial Institute where the public could purchase an admission
ticket. The revenues went to charity.
Conspicuous among the gifts would be the bride's corbeille de marriage,
or wedding casket, filled with gifts of jewels from her fiancé,
family, friends and, in Princess May's situation, from the country.
Along with a fine house, carriage and servants, jewelry was an important
and instantly recognizable indication of wealth. When the principle
heir of a noble or royal family became engaged, the family diamonds
would be reset in the latest style for the bride.
In the glass display case, we see some of the gifts given to Mary
such as the "famous" diamond sun brooch from the Count
& Countess Warwick, a bracelet which was part of the present
from the People of Richmond, and the tiara from the People of Surrey.
Some other jewels--the diamond and pearl pendant/brooch from the
Ladies of Surrey Needlework Guild and a diamond ornament from the
Count Korlebrodyki--have rarely or never been seen in public. The
Ladies of Surrey Needlework Guild brooch was inherited by Queen
Elizabeth in 1953 and has been worn once in public by the Queen,
pinned to her Garter sash when she opened the New South Wales Parliament,
in Sydney, Australia in 1954 and later by visiting the Pope in 2000.
Queen Mary reportedly had the "Warwick" diamond sun broken
up in 1911 and the stones could have been incorporated into new
pieces, such as one her large stomachers.
One of the gifts from Prince George, the bridegroom, was a diamond
rose brooch in the style of the "Rose of York". As well,
the present of the West Yorkshire Regiment was a diamond rose brooch,
designed and executed by the Goldsmiths' and Silversmiths' Company.
The brooch given by the West Yorkshire Regiment was later presented
to the Queen Mother as a wedding present upon her marriage to the
Duke of Yorkand - later passed to Princess Margaret and was discribed
in the auction of her jewels: AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND ROSE OF YORK
Naturalistically modelled, the overlapping cinquefoil petals set
with cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, mounted in silver and
gold, circa 1860, wide 3.9 cm, price £42,000 ($77,280)
See the different brooches above. Princess Mary wore the rose-brooch of Prince George on her arm as a bracelet.
The spray of rose-leaves in diamonds brooch on her bodice was the
wedding gift from a few women of the stage. Eighty actresses contributed
to the fund from which the brooch was purchased.
The pearl-collier de chien or pearl dog collar is probably a marriage present of the Sahib Morvi, the Thakore and Ranee of Gondal and later given to the Duchess of Gloucester, was described as large costly diamond and pearl necklace, scroll pattern, with bracelet to match.
From the Indian Princes at present in this country, the Princess has received some valuable presents, the Ranee of Gondal giving her a diamond and pearl necklet and bracelet to match, and the Maharaja of Bhaunagar sending her a handsome inlaid Indian cabinet with silver jugs and goblets.
Source: Diass Express;jeweller magazine, The Graphic Royal Wedding
Number 23 July 1893, The Times, Boffer,RJM,Nottinghamshire Guardian