Very briefly, mourning jewelry is made just after the death of a loved one and is worn during the traditional period of mourning; one year. Queen Victoria also wore her mourning jewelry after the period of initial mourning.
In 2017, Countess Mountbatten, Patricia Edwina Victoria Knatchbull Mountbatten, died of injuries related to an IRA bomb place on her father’s fishing boat. The Countess’s father, cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, and numerous others, were also killed.
The pieces coming up for auction are from Countess Mountbatten’s personal collection and include one mourning button-cover and three mourning pendants. The button-cover is is made of Onyx and accented with seed pearls in the shape of an A, for Alice. It opens like a locket and features a colorized photograph of Princess Alice.
The first, and smallest of three pendants is 34mm tall including the ring on which it hangs. It is crafted out of black banded agate with a pearl cupped in the center of the gray agate ring. Queen Victoria commissioned the piece after the death of her grand-daughter, Princess Marie of Hesse.
Both Princess Alice and Princess Marie died of diphtheria in the same year, 1878.
The second of the three pendants, a locket, is 35mm tall including the ring, and was commissioned by Prince Consort Albert for Queen Victoria upon the death of her mother in 1861. Prince Albert would die later that same year. It is an oval pendant also composed of banded Agate. There is a gold 8-pointed star in the centered in the oval created by the gray band. The star serves as a setting for a diamond. The locket contains a photograph of Queen Victoria’s mother (Duchess of Kent) and a lock of her hair within.
The largest pendant is a trefoil tipped cross with a central heart locket. The locket contains a lock of Princess Alice’s hair. The pendant is 60mm tall and made of gold, black and white enamel, onyx, banded agate and diamonds.
The craftsmanship of this, and all the pieces coming up for auction are exquisite. Each piece of mourning jewelry is engraved with a dedication of remembrance, and some contain a dedication, and maker’s mark. The engraving, all by hand is phenomenal. Hand engraving is an art form in and of itself.
The links in the previous paragraphs go to each item’s page on Sotheby’s website. You can learn more about each item, and about how to bid in the auction by clicking on the links.
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