A diamond brooch created in the early 19th century by the crown jewelers to the French court and worn to Queen Victoria’s wedding is the latest unique historical offering from New Orleans–based antique jeweler M.S. Rau.
“Old mine–cut diamonds were not only extremely rare in their day, but they’re almost never seen on the market today,” the owner of M.S. Rau, Bill Rau, tells JCK. “Crafted circa 1835 by the famous French jeweler Bapst, this brooch is a perfect mix of beauty and provenance. We were able to secure this stunning piece from a private source. It is well-documented, with royalty over generations wearing the brooch, which adds to the allure.”
The British Royal Diamond Bow Brooch, which M.S. Rau has priced at $2.65 million, features a total of 200 carats of diamonds. It was created by Maison Bapst, crown jewelers to the French court for decades, at the request of the fifth Duke of Newcastle, Henry Pelham-Clinton, for his wife, Lady Susan Hamilton, who wore it to the 1840 royal wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Passed down through generations, the brooch was also worn by the Duchess of Newcastle, Kathleen Florence May Pelham-Clinton (a well-known socialite, dog breeder, and conformation judge), to the Devonshire Ball in 1897.
“Every recent red-carpet event has featured star-studded celebrities sporting antique brooches—one-of-a-kind statement pieces that are rising in popularity,” Rau says. “While a stomacher [worn in the chest area] may not be commonplace today, these monumental accessories have been popular among royals for centuries. They were famously worn by Queen Mary, Queen Charlotte, Queen Emma of the Netherlands, and Queen Josephine of Leuchtenberg, to name a few.”
Other recent extraordinary acquisitions of M.S. Rau have included a convertible necklace/tiara Napoleon gave his mistress, a $2.5 million Du Pont family ring, and a World War II–era patriotic brooch by Cartier. “We are always thrilled at M.S. Rau when we can offer up truly unique pieces, and this is no exception,” Rau says of the diamond bow brooch.
Top: British Royal Diamond Bow Brooch by Bapst (circa 1835–1840) in gold over silver with 200+ cts. t.w. old mine–cut diamonds, $2.65 million; M.S. Rau
(Photos courtesy of M.S. Rau)
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