A Magnificent Victorian Amethyst and Diamond Bangle
by Simon Teakle on March 12th, 2009
In the Victorian era, jewelry was made and worn on a grand scale. Aristocratic women wore massive tiaras and corsage ornaments amongst elaborate silks and brocades. It was an era of glamour and opulence, especially in nineteenth century England.
Over a hundred years after their creation, many Victorian pieces still represent the height of fashion, a testament to their brilliant design. Although they may be worn alone with great simplicity, their dramatic impact endures.
This remarkable amethyst and diamond bangle features a number of characteristics that are typical of Victorian design, including foliate sprays and clusters, as well as dramatic swaths of color. In combination with meticulous craftsmanship, these elements bestow a sculptural form.
This bracelet belonged to Mary Russell, the Duchess of Bedford and Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Born as Mary du Caurroy Tribe, in 1865 at Stockbridge, Hampshire, she married Lord Herbrand Russell.
In a period when women were largely forced to assume subservient roles, Mary was a firebrand for women’s rights. She was a vocal supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, joining the Women’s Tax Resistance League to protest the disenfranchisement of women.
She was invested as Dame of Grace, Venerable Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and as a fellow at the Linnean Society of the Imperial College.
Mary was also an acclaimed aviator and ornithologist. She broke the records for the longest flights to India and South Africa. Moreover, her journals regarding migratory patterns on Fair Isle were published posthumously.
At the age of 71, Mary left Woburn Abbey on her way to Fair Isle in a De Haviland Gipsy Moth plane and crashed into the chilly waters of the North Sea. Mary’s body was never recovered.