29 August 2016

Monday Tidbits for August 29: Queen Victoria's Coronet Changing Hands

Well, this is more of a Tidbit, singular. But hey, big tiara news:

--Queen Victoria's Sapphire Coronet has been sold (and sold again), and may leave the United Kingdom - unless a new buyer can be found that will keep it in the country. I have updated my entry on the tiara, so you can click here to read the piece's entire story. More on the current situation on the below...

Click all to enlarge. Photos: Department for Culture, Media & Sport

The sapphire and diamond coronet from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, immortalized in a very famous Winterhalter portrait of Victoria, was given to Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, as a wedding gift in 1922. Princess Mary's family sold quite a few of her jewels after her 1965 death, including the matching parure that accompanied Victoria's tiara. The Lascelles family held on to the tiara until sometime in the last few years, when they sold it to a London dealer. The dealer then sold it to an unnamed overseas buyer. That buyer applied for an export license, and that's where the whole process stopped...for now.

Due to the jewel's historical importance, the Culture Minister has placed a temporary export ban on the tiara, which allows extra time to find a buyer that would keep the tiara in the UK. The recommended cost to meet is £5 million (plus an additional £1 million VAT). The ban extends through December 27, 2016, and can be extended through the following July if a serious buyer is found.

The temporary export ban process has succeeded in keeping certain national treasures in the country in the past. The BBC has a rundown of a few items from Jane Austen's ring to a pricey car; on the hefty jewelry side, both a set of peridot jewelry given by the Prince Regent and the Mountbatten Tutti Frutti Bandeau were placed under the ban before ending up with the Victoria & Albert Museum. I am sure the V&A would love to have this coronet in their possession, and they may be the best option. Like many of you, I would love to see the royal family or the Royal Collection acquire this piece, but I won't be surprised if they choose to avoid such a public expenditure. We'll see what happens, and I hope that we can revisit the tiara entry with a happy ending sometime in the future. [BBC, V&A]

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!