Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Famous Diamond Jewelry of the Empress

There are many princesses who married princes of foreign lands and became queens. Marie of Edinburgh, Queen of Romania and Elizabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Hungary, became so beloved by their adopted peoples that they became identified with those countries as if they were natives. From a wonderful Hungarian site devoted to the memory of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, who was like a mother to the Hungarian people:

Erzsébet [Elizabeth] realized more and more that she could have a great impact on men with her beauty and radiance. She consciously began to use this attraction to influence her husband for her own purposes. In 1865, Franz Xaver Winterhalter created the famous portrait that made Elizabeth a world-famous beauty. In the painting, her dress is decorated with embroideries in the shape of a snowy meadow, and her hair is also decorated with diamond ornaments in the shape of a snowy meadow. At that time, floral motifs were very popular both on clothes and in jewelry.

The court jeweler Alexander Emanuel Köchert also designed two sets of diamond jewelry for the empress at that time, both consisting of twenty-seven hairpins. The emperor commissioned the goldsmith to make one: the pieces of this set are each decorated with a true pearl in the middle. The other was ordered by the empress, supposedly because she liked Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, which she saw in the theater at the time. She also wanted to wear bright stars in her hair like the Queen of the Night - of course hers were made of diamonds. The empress liked these jewels so much that later on she had Köchert make these and similar ones for her loved ones.

Star-shaped jewelry was not brought into fashion by the empress (for example, many similar ones were made in England), yet the jewelry ensembles will be known as the empress's "famous diamond stars", even though not both were star-shaped, the pieces made by Ferenc József - with a pearl in the middle - they are shaped like snowdrops, the "petals" of which are studded with small diamonds. Havasi gyopár was considered the flower of empresses and queens due to their extraordinary value. On Erzsébet's organza dress (which she wears in the portrait by Winterhalter), patterns in the shape of snowdrops embroidered with gold thread. The beauty of the dress was given by its sparkle. When she danced in it in February 1865 at the Dresden ball, which was organized on the occasion of the wedding of her favorite younger brother, Prince Károly Tivadar of Bavaria, in the ballroom, lit by the light of thousands of candles, the gold-embroidered flowers shone brightly and scattered the stars, so that it was impossible to look anywhere else but at him. Archduke Viktor Lajos wrote to his mother after the ball: "Sisi was so radiantly beautiful that she drove everyone here crazy." Although the archduke criticized his sister-in-law whenever possible, he also acknowledged her beauty, in front of which no one could now stop without paying homage. (Read more.)

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