Rare and highly important ruby and diamond necklace, Late 19th Century
Designed as a rivière of twenty-four cushion-shaped rubies alternating with twenty-four similarly shaped diamonds, mounted in silver and gold, length approximately 433mm, accompanied by the original worksheet listing the weights of the stones and stating that four rubies and four diamonds were added to lengthen the original necklace on 24th October 1884. The turquoise velvet fitted case embellished with the monogram R under a coronet, by R&S Garrard & Co, Goldsmith and Jewellers to The Crown, 25 Haymarket, London.
On the 20th March 1878 the 5th Earl of Rosebery married Hannah, only daughter and heiress of Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild, of Mentmore, Buckinghamshire.
It is highly probable that these jewels were those purchased from Garrards by the 5th Earl in 1884. The fitted case bears the crest of the Earls of Rosebery and there is a marvellous diary entry from the 5th Earl of Rosebery on the 28th March 1884 which succinctly reads: London, “Garrard came at 12 with the ruby necklace which I bought”. The workings for the necklace and earrings which are in the fitted case are dated 24th October 1884 and it would appear that the Earl had requested the necklace to be lengthened. This necklace and pair of earrings would have been a gift for his wife Hannah and may well have required some adjustment.
The Earl and Countess’s youngest daughter, Margaret Primrose, was born in 1881 and in 1884, the same year as the purchase of the ruby necklace, she became the subject for one of Sir John Everett Millais’ most charming and renowned portraits which he entitled simply “Lady Peggy Primrose”. There is a delightful passage in “The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais”, written by his son, J. G. Millais. For the year 1884 he writes: “One of this year’s portraits that interested him very much was that of little Lady Peggy Primrose (now Countess of Crewe) youngest daughter of the Earl of Rosebery. During the progress of this work the child became much attached to my father; and afterwards when, owing to an illness some of her pretty hair had to be cut off, one of her golden locks was sent to him at Murthly, at her special request. He was much touched by this souvenier of his little friend; and the childish gift is still carefully preserved at Bowerswell. The portrait was exhibited at the Academy in the following year as a pendant to that of Lady Sybil Primrose by Leighton”.
On April 20th, 1899 Lady Margaret Primrose married Robert Crew-Milnes, the first and last Marquess of Crewe, in Westminster Abbey. The Times of that day reported that “among those present at the abbey were 600 invited guests, all wearing wedding favors(sic) of marguerites and primroses, representing the brides name”. Even her wedding dress was embroidered with diamond primroses.
In our opinion the necklace and the pair of earrings, sold as lot 431, were most probably gifted by the Earl and Countess of Rosebery to their daughter, the Marchioness of Crewe and thence by decent to her daughter, Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe.
Rare and Highly Important Ruby and Diamond Necklace, Late 19th Century