Kensington palace is holding an exhibition of Enlightened Princesses from the 22nd June to 12th November, focusing on Princesses Caroline, Augusta and Charlotte’s life in 18th century Great Britain. The three German princesses would marry into the British Royal family and have an immeasurable impact on the future of the nation. The exhibition has brought together a fascinating collection that belonged to the three famous Princesses, which features a wide range of interests throughout three different generations. During this period Britain’s expansion in science, education and medicine was most rapid, Royal Princesses also started to act and be influential like modern Royal women. Their charity achievements, habits and private lives of this time, in many ways, became the inspiration of royalty today.
As this exhibition highlights the lifestyles and influences of Royal women it is only natural that their jewellery collection would be mentioned. Indeed, one of the most famous diamond lovers in the history was Princess Charlotte who, it is said was ‘never allowed to appear in public without diamonds as if diamonds were empire’. Perhaps one of her most prized possessions was ‘the Arcot diamonds’ a pair of drop shape diamonds gifted to Charlotte when she was Queen and consort to King George III. The Nawab of Arcot, Azim-ud-Daula, eager to strengthen his ties with the British monarchy presented ‘the Arcot diamonds’ to Queen Charlotte as a sign of his loyalty. How the diamonds were worn are a source of speculation and intrigue especially when it comes to royal styling.
Although ‘the Arcot diamonds’ were faceted using the older rose cut design, jewellery design during this time was hugely inspired by the new diamond cuts and the modern life style in the 18th century. England and France at this time established two different lifestyles between outdoor in the day time and elegant candlelight salon at night time. The princesses would have had Jewels which were made to suit daytime wear and night time display. For the modern candlelight salon events, diamonds were the highlight. Round old cut diamonds were first introduced by Vincenzo Peruzzi in the late 17th century and the success of this new cutting technique quickly made diamonds the dominant jewel of the time and this has continued ever since.
Other favoured designs of the time were inspired by naturalism and flower elements became perfectly suitable for day time wear. Giardinetti or ‘little garden jewels’ were extremely fashionable at the time and were sure to be included in Princesses’ collections. These designs were set with coloured stones and diamonds in the framework to create a basket or vase pattern with flowers on the top – very charming gifts for ladies at that time.
Berganza can proudly say that we have a wide range of Georgian period jewellery with some very rare designs, that have survived from nearly three centuries ago. For those who visit the exhibition and covet the rare Royal jewels on display we welcome you to come instore or online and admire our fine collection. Our experts will explain in detail the rich history behind these pieces and help you choose your very own piece suitable for a princess.