British Royal Family Orders

British Royal Family Orders

While being interested in the British Royal Family over many years I always wondered about the ribbon “badges” worn with miniature portraits pinned to the evening gowns of the female members of the Royal Family.  So, I set about researching the history and tradition of the British Royal Family Orders.

The Royal Family Orders are customarily given by the British sovereign to the female members of the Royal Family and are considered a personal item rather than the state commemorative medals worn by the male members of the Royal Family.  The Order is decorated with a miniature portrait of the sovereign which is suspended from a ribbon bow and on the reverse side of the portrait frame there is an engraving of the sovereign’s monogram.  Throughout the years the color of the ribbon has been changed with each sovereign selecting their own distinctive color.

The Order is customarily worn on the left side of the lady’s evening gown but there has been the occasional exception to this rule.  If the lady has received more than one of the Royal Family Orders from various sovereigns the Orders are worn layered with the most recent one on the top.  In the photo below on the left shows the Queen Mother wearing the Order of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, on the top and the Order of her husband, King George VI, on bottom.  The photo on the right shows Queen Elizabeth wearing the Order of her father, King George VI, on the top and the Order of her grandfather, King George V, on the bottom.  (Special Note: A female sovereign, such as Queen Elizabeth, does not wear their own Royal Family Order)

Queen Mother wearing Royal Family Orders  Queen Elizabeth wearing Royal Family Orders

Historical Note:  It seems that Queen Mary was one of the most honored women of the Royal Family having receiving five Royal Family Orders.  The Orders were given by Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.  The last Order she received was to her given in December 1952 which was after her grand-daughter, Queen Elizabeth’s accession but before her coronation.  Sadly, Queen Mary did not live to see the coronation and died a few months before in March 1953.  In the photo below, Queen Mary is seeing wearing two of her Royal Family Orders.

Queen Mary

A History of the Royal Family Orders

Listed below are the Royal Family Orders starting with King George IV to the current Queen Elizabeth II.  There will be a brief description of each Royal Family Order issued by the sovereign and a partial list of recipients during their reign.  (Special Note: There was no Royal Family Order issued for King Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936 less than a year after his accession to the throne and prior to his coronation)

Royal Family Order of King George IV

During Prince George’s regency as the result of the madness of his father King George III, the Prince is noted to on special occasions give his personal badge of honor as a memento to the gentlemen and ladies of the court.  After the death of his farther and his accession to the throne as King George IV he reserved the honor of the first official Royal Family Order to be given exclusively to female members of the Royal Family.  Attached to a white silk bow was a miniature portrait set in a gold and silver frame decorated with diamond oak leaves and acorns with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame (as shown in the photo below, the right photo shows the reverse side of the portrait frame).  Some of the recipients of the Royal Family Order of King George IV included his sister Queen Charlotte of Wurttemberg, his sister-in-law Princess Augusta the Duchess of Cambridge and his niece Princess Victoria of Kent who was later to become Queen Victoria.

King George IV Royal Family Order  King George IV - reverse side

King William IV

During the reign of King William IV he did not create a formal Royal Family Order but instead issued a set of square jeweled buckles featuring the crowned monograms of King William and Queen Adelaide, as shown in the photo below.

King William IV

Queen Victoria

During Queen Victoria reign, her Royal Badge was initially given as her personal honor to her eldest daughter Princess Victoria on the solemn occasion of her confirmation marking her religious commitment and most notably her status as a young adult.  In the following years Queen Victoria bestowed the badges on her other daughters also at the time of their confirmations.

Then after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, the Queen decided to formally create the Order of Victoria & Albert as another one of her numerous ways of honoring the Prince.  Unlike the other Royal Family Orders, the Order of Victoria & Albert was divided into four classes, the first being given her daughters and later her daughters-in-law and grand-daughters with subsequent classes issued to other members of the Royal Family and the Royal Household including honored servants and couriers.

The Order of Victoria & Albert was established in 1862 and features an ivory colored cameo of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set in brown onyx with a silver gilt frame accented with diamonds, rubies and emeralds with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame which was attached to a white silk bow , as shown in the photo below on the left.  Lesser class badges were decorated with pearls instead of diamonds.  (Special Note: The second and the third photos below show Queen Victoria’s personal badge with the profiles set in reverse order with Prince Albert in the front and the Queen behind)

Order of Victoria & Albert

1882 Queen Victoria photograph by Alexander Bassano  Order of Victoria and Albert - Queen Victoria's personal badge

Historical Note:  Both Princess Alexandra, Queen Victoria’s daughter-in-law (later to become Queen Alexandra in 1863) and Princess May of Teck (later to become Queen Mary in 1893) wore their Order of Victoria & Albert badges on their wedding days to the future Kings of England.   

King Edward VII

The Royal Family Order of King Edward VII was established in 1901 and features a diamond surrounded miniature portrait of King Edward painted on enamel with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame, this would set a precedence for future orders which would be created in this style with a single portrait of the sovereign painted on enamel. The King Edward portrait frame is attached to a bow in blue, yellow and red stripes which were coincidentally used as King Edward’s horse racing colors, the order is shown in the photo below.  The King’s wife Queen Alexandra, his sisters, daughters and daughter-in-law were recipients of King Edward’s Royal Family Orders.

King Edward VII Royal Family Order  King Edward VII Royal Family Order - reverse side

King George V  

The Royal Family Order of King George V was established in 1910 and features a miniature portrait of the King painted on enamel surrounded by diamonds with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame which is attached to white silk bow.  The recipients of the Order include the King’s wife Queen Mary, his daughter-in-law Princess Alice the Duchess of Gloucester and his two grand-daughters, Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret.

King George V Royal Family Order  King George V - reverse side

King George VI

The Royal Family Order of King George VI was established in 1936 and features a miniature enameled portrait of the King surrounded by diamonds with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame which is attached to a rose pink bow.  The recipients of the Order include the King’s wife Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother) and their eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) and their youngest daughter Princess Margaret (later known as the Countess of Snowdon).

King George VI Royal Family Order  King George VI - reverse side1

Queen Elizabeth II

 The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II was established in 1952 features a miniature enameled portrait of the young queen surrounded by diamonds with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame which is attached to a chartreuse yellow bow.  The reverse side of the Order has the Queen Royal cipher and St. Edward’s Crown in gold and enamel.

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Family Order  Queen Elizabeth II - reverse side

(Special Note: The portrait of Queen Elizabeth used for the Royal Family Order is the 1952 painting by Dorothy Wilding)

The Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Family Order recipients is the longest list and includes Queen Mary (her grandmother), Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret (her sister) and Princess Diana (her daughter-in-law) who are all deceased. Shown in the photos below are Princess Margaret on the left wearing three of the Royal Family Orders (King George VI, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) and Princess Diana on the right wearing the Queen’s Order.

Princess Margaret - wearing three family orders  Screenshot_2016-08-17-08-12-39-1

Current recipients include Princess Anne (her daughter) and her daughters-in-law Sophie the Duchess of Wessex and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall.  Three Royals are shown wearing the Order in the photos below.

Princess Anne  Sophia the Duchess of Wessex

  Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall

To end this post, there has been long term speculation as to when Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, would receive Queen Elizabeth II Royal Family Order.  In past years most brides marrying into the Royal Family have received the Order within five years after the wedding, these times are all hearsay since the Order is a personal honor bestowed by the sovereign and there is no official press announcement.  The first indication is when the recipient wears the Order at a public function, such as a State Banquet.  So far this has not happened for the Duchess of Cambridge and we will continue to wait in anticipation.

UPDATE: The Duchess of Cambridge was reported to have received the Royal Family Order in December 2017 and wore it for the first time at a Diplomatic Corps Reception that year.  Shown below is a photo of the Duchess wearing the Royal Family Order in  September 2018 at the State Banquet for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.  It is also interesting to note that the Duchess requested that her Royal Family Order be made of glass instead of ivory because her husband, Prince William, has is a Royal Patron of Tusk which is dedicated to the survival of African endangered wildlife.

Coco Chanel (Part Two)

Last year in honor of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (born: August 19, 1883 died: January 10, 1971) I posted an article that discussed her personal and professional life.  Chanel was a French fashion designer that has effected what women have been wearing for a century.  Chanel started designing fashionable hats this lead to her starting her own fashion line which proved to be an enormous success.  Her understated and elegant designs set many of the fashion trends that women are still wearing today.  Chanel eventually expanded her fashion line to include accessories, such as jewelry, handbags and fragrance Chanel No. 5 which still remains one of the bestselling perfumes of all times.  In Part Two, I will discuss some of Chanel’s iconic contributions to the world of fashion.

The Chanel Suit

In 1921 Coco Chanel designed a women’s suit that would become a classic fashion item, it was the first suit made specifically for women.  The Chanel Suit was a collarless, buttoned wool jacket and a straight A-line skirt; the suit would sometimes be decorated with braid trim or metallic buttons.  The Chanel Suit was usually made in tweed material cut on the straight grain and the jacket was lined with jersey or silk crepe.  The jacket was designed without shoulder pads and there were no darts at the bust line, the neckline lacked a collar for comfort and useful pockets.  As most clothes that Chanel designed it came from her personal need to have something comfortable but yet fashionable with a sophisticated look.  As the Chanel Suit emerged as a fashion choice, the timing was after World War I and women were starting to enter into business.

Chanel suit sketch  Chanel suit 1

The Little Black Dress

The first Chanel designed little black dress appeared in the 1926 Vogue magazine in the United States, it was predicted the dress would “become a uniform for all women of taste”.  The simply-cut dress was initially available in silk crêpe de chine and had a straight neckline, long sleeves and calf-length skirt.   The “neutral” color of the dress was intended to be both versatile, affordable and meant to transcend several seasons, perhaps years and could be accessorized for daytime and evening.  Chanel later made the dress in wool or chenille for the day and silk, satin or velvet for the evening.   

Chanel Little Black Dress 1926   Chanel Little Black Dress 1926 Vogue

The Chanel Bag

The Chanel Bag was designed in 1929 and the original version was made in leather.  The bag’s exterior featured a hand-stitched quilted design and the interior was lined in a burgundy color (which was said to be used by Chanel and was reminiscent of the color of the uniforms at the Aubazine Abbey, the convent and orphanage in central France were she lived for six years).  The back of the bag has an outside compartment for storing money and on the inside of the front flap there is a zippered compartment, Chanel was known to keep her personal love letters there in her own purse.  At the front of the original bag there was a front lock, which was known as the “Mademoiselle Lock” referring to Chanel’s unmarried status.  Chanel also designed the original bag with double chain shoulder straps to allow women the freedom of not holding onto their bag which would free their hands for other activities.  The chains featured leather straps laced through them; this was a feature reminiscent of the chains that the nuns would have used at the Aubazine orphanage from Chanel’s childhood.   

Throughout the years the basic Chanel Bag has been updated and restyled.  The “2.55” bag was designed in February 1955, hence the name of this version.  The bag was made in a variety of leather and fabric color combinations and featured the Mademoiselle Lock or a special order lock shaped in the classic double CC Chanel logo.

Chanel purse

The Pearl Necklace

The history of pearls dates back several centuries to the time of the ancient Greeks when women wore them in their hair for weddings to symbolize purity and to ensure marital happiness.  During the Renaissance women would intertwine pearls into their hair also embellished their clothing with pearls. Noble women (such as Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, Queen Alexandria and Queen Mary of Britain) and women of the upper class often wore several layers of necklaces made of natural pearls.  In 1893, Kokichi Mickimoto perfected the process for creating beautiful and lustrous cultured pearls and a new jewelry industry was born which made pearl necklaces available for the women of the middle class.  

In the early 1920s, Coco Chanel set the fashion trend of wearing cultured pearls during the daytime; she would also combine the pearls with other pieces of fine jewelry and by doing this she made it acceptable for women to mix inexpensive and expensive jewelry to be worn at the same time.

Chanel pearls 1

Chanel No. 5 perfume

Throughout the years, Chanel was constantly looking for ways to expand her business.  In 1922 she was introduced to Pierre Wertheimer, the director of the Bourgeois Perfume and Cosmetics Company, and she worked with Ernest Beaux, a Russian-French perfumer, to create the chemical formula for a special fragrance.  Women of the upper class would wear traditional perfumes made from the pure essence of a single flower while ladies of the lower class wore more sensual perfumes made from animal musk.  Chanel No. 5, which was originally only sold exclusively in the Chanel stores, was a combination of the two different scents perfectly blended for the new modern women of the 1920s. 

After entering into the agreement with Wertheimer and Bader, a separate company was created called Parfums Chanel.  The arrangement was that Wertheimer would receive seventy percent, Bader would receive twenty percent and Chanel would have the remaining ten percent but she would have no involvement in the actual running of the business.  Years later, Chanel realized her error in being “tricked” into such a low percent of the company when the profits of the sale of the perfume reached nine million dollars annually.  She was also concerned that the original formula for Chanel No. 5 had been altered and was being produced inexpensively with inferior ingredients to meet the high consumer demands.  It would take twenty years of legal battles to finally reach a settlement and a new arrangement was agreed upon paying Chanel retroactive outstanding profits not paid to her and also increasing her percentage of the future profits, her earnings from Chanel No. 5 sales would be almost twenty-five million dollars annually.

There are several reasons for the selection of the name of Chanel No. 5, Chanel considered the number five to be her special number.  Chanel associated the number five with her childhood at the Aubazine convent and orphanage for several reasons, such as the five-petal roses which grew naturally on the hillsides surrounding the Abbey or the circular pattern repeated five times during daily prayers at the Abbey’s church.  Another reason could be traced back the fact that the scent that Chanel choose was the fifth sample.  (Chanel always showed her annual fashion collection on May fifth, the fifth month and fifth day of the year)

Chanel No. 5

Chanel was involved in all aspects of the selection and design process of the Chanel No. 5 perfume.  In regards to the perfume bottle’s design, she thought the Lalique and Baccarat crystal bottles used for the other women fragrances were too elaborate.  She wanted a simple bottle and it was thought that it inspired by the Charvet rectangular bottles in the traveling case used by her companion, Arthur “Boy” Capel or possibly the squared shape of his whiskey decanters.  

The History of Lockets

A locket by definition is “a small ornamental case for a photograph or other keepsake which is usually worn as a pendant” on a simple chain but lockets can also be in the form of a ring or brooch.  In this post, I will discuss the history of lockets and end with some examples of a few special historical lockets.

The History of Lockets

Modern day lockets evolved centuries earlier from amulets (an ornament or small piece of jewelry) which were thought to give worn for protection against evil, danger, or disease.  In the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, early lockets were worn by either women or men and could be a pendant, a ring, a brooch or a watch fob.  People would frequently display miniature portraits of loved ones or sometimes small pictures of the King or Queen to show their loyalty to the crown.  Sometimes the lockets were made with small openings in which small perfumed fabric squares were placed to camouflage the stench for the unpleasant sanitary conditions.

Mourning jewelry became popular in the 17th century with the execution of Charles I in 1649, supporters of the former King secretly wore miniature portraits of him set in lockets and rings.  Later in the 18th century, mourners wore intricately decorated lockets in which locks of a “dearly departed” family member were arranged in a special way. Mourning jewelry increased in popularity in the Victorian era after the Queen’s husband, Prince Albert, death.  As the Queen went into a long period of intense mourning she wore a special locket dedicated to the memory of her beloved husband which set a fashion trend.  An entire jewelry industry was soon started that specifically produced affordable items for the upper and middle classes.

Today, lockets are available in a variety of shapes and sizes; the most popular is the sentimental heart shape.  Lockets make great gifts for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, christening or other religious ceremonies and also for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas.  Traditional styles are available in a variety of precious metals such as gold or silver and can be embellished with gemstones such as diamonds or pearls.  Most recently the more modern “floating charm” lockets have become very popular and are available with several different choices of charms and other inserts such as engraved discs with special messages.         

Different Types of Lockets

Described below are the various types of lockets that are available, some new ones can be purchased at a fine jewelry or department store while the vintage or older ones can be purchased at antiques stores or online at sites such as eBay.  Special Note: When shopping for a vintage locket here are some tips – the locket should be in good condition, check the hinges and interior, avoid lockets that are damage or heavily scratched.   

  • Keepsake Lockets – This type of locket can make a wonderful gift to commemorate a special occasion such as a birth, a first communion or wedding.  Usually keepsake lockets have a space in which to place a small photo behind a plastic cover or a glass enclosure to place a lock of hair or other small memorabilia.  This style of locket is perhaps the most popular one.       

Heart locket

Etched Victorian locket    Book locket

  • Vintage Perfume Lockets – As previously mentioned, centuries ago lockets were sometimes made with small filigree style openings in which perfumed fabric squares were placed inside to camouflage the stench due to unpleasant odors from limited personal hygiene and rather disagreeable smells from sanitary conditions in the streets.  Today, perfume lockets can be made as a DIY craft project and if you are interested in creating your own I would recommended a search on the internet for the supplies required and instructions to create your own.

Perfume locket

  • Vintage Daguerreotype Picture Locket – This variation of a keepsake locket featured a Daguerreotype photograph.  The process was first introduced in 1839 and in the following decades it became less expensive to produce so that small daguerreotypes could be used in watch cases, fobs brooches and lockets.  The soft metal daguerreotypes could be reduced in size and then set and sealed behind glass.  These types of lockets were very popular in North America at the onset and during the duration of the Civil War.

Victorian locket 2    Victorian locket 1

  • Mourning or memorial lockets – Mourning lockets have been around for some time and in England, during the Victorian Era, they were especially popular.  This might be possibly due to the fact that Queen Victoria was in deep mourning after the death of her husband and she wore a locket which contained a small daguerreotype of Prince Albert and a lock of his hair, this set a fashion trend.

Mourning locket 1  Mourning locket 2

  • “Floating Charm” Lockets –  In the last few years, the floating charm lockets have become very popular and the selection of lockets, floating charms and engraved discs are numerous (as shown in the photo below)

Floating Charm locket

Historical Lockets from the Past

Below are listed some examples of historical lockets from centuries ago:

  • In the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I commissioned a special locket ring which contained a portrait of herself and one of her mother Anne Boleyn (who was the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII that died in May 19, 1536).  The ring was possibly made in 1575 and it features a mother of pearl band with diamonds and rubies set in gold.  The ring has an “E” set with six diamonds placed over a blue enamel “R” and a hinge opens to reveal the portraits inside.  Elizabeth wore the ring until her death in 1603 when it was removed; it eventually found its way to the Home family that acquired some of the possessions of King James I.  The ring is now the property of the Trustees of Chequers and that is currently on display there, Chequers is the official residence of the Prime Minister and is located in Buckinghamshire, England.  (Special Note: During the Elizabethan era, artists were commissioned to paint miniature portraits and many were placed in elaborately designed lockets which were very expensive pieces owned the nobility or the very wealthy of the upper class who could afford to pay the artists)

Queen Elizabeth I locket ring

  • The “Penicuik Locket” once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots is an enameled gold locket which features miniature portraits of Mary and her son James.  The companion necklace has 14 large oval filigree beads with several small circular beads that originally contained perfume.  The piece received its name because after Mary’s execution in 1587 the locket fell into the possession a former servant named Giles Mowbray, it then passed to his granddaughter who married into the Clerk family of Penicuik (hence the name) and is currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland located in Edinburgh

Mary Queen of Scots locket opened

  • The next locket holds a historical piece of wartime memorabilia and it contains the bullet that killed Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalagar in 1805.  The locket is currently part of the Royal Collection Trust.  The bullet was fired from a French naval ship the “Redoubtable” and hit Lord Nelson’s in the left shoulder passing through his spine and vertebrae and lodging just below in his right shoulder.  Lord Nelson was carried below deck and the bullet was removed by a surgeon named William Beatty on board the HMS Victory but the wound caused fatal damage to Lord Nelson’s lungs and spine and he died three hours later. Lord Nelson’s posthumous victory over the French and Spanish fleets made him a national hero and afterwards the bullet, with a piece of Lord Nelson’s naval uniform still attached, was set in a crystal case locket which Surgeon Beatty gave to Queen Victoria in 1842.

Lord Nelson bullet locket 1

  • Shown below is a small memorial locket which is said to have belonged to Queen Victoria.  The gold locket features an oval onyx and a diamond “star” set in the middle with an blue enamel inscription around the boarder that reads “Die reine Seele schwingt sich auf zu Gott” in German, the English translation is “The pure soul flies up above to the Lord”.  Inside the locket on the left is a lock of hair and on the right is a small photo of Prince Albert who was Queen Victoria’s husband.  When he died in 1861 at Windsor Castle, the Queen went into a deep period of mourning and she ordered that the Blue Room in which the Prince died would be left perpetually as it was on the day that he died, the “Albert Locket” was place in the room, and this promise was kept until her own death in 1901.

Queen Victoria locket closed    Queen Victoria locket opened

Jackie Kennedy Personal Jewelry Collection

In honor of the birthday of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (born: July 28, 1929 died:  May 19, 1994) this post will discuss several items from her personal jewelry collection that she received from her husband, President John F. Kennedy.  Jackie gained the world’s attention as First Lady and she famously oversaw the renovation and restoration of the White House but she was also known as a fashion icon with women in the 1960s emulating everything from the clothing she wore to the way she styled her hair.

1.  Jackie Kennedy Engagement Ring

Jackie and JFK met at a mutual friend’s dinner party in May 1952.  JFK was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts at the time and he would eventually become a U.S. Senator and then President of the United States.  Shortly after meeting, Jackie left to cover the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London and stayed in Europe for a few more months.  Soon after returning, JFK proposed with a diamond and emerald engagement ring and the couple announced their engagement on June 25, 1953.  (For more information on the September 12, 1953 wedding of Jackie and JFK, please click on the link)

Jackie’s engagement ring was a lovely 2.88 emerald and baguette diamond ring, in 1962 she had the ring redesigned to include not only the emerald and diamonds but it was also set with an additional 2.88 square-cut diamond and marquise diamonds, as shown in the photo below.


Special Note: Jackie’s engagement ring was donated after her death to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum along with several other Kennedy memorabilia.  (If you are interested in more information about the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, please click on the link)

2.  Jackie Kennedy Wedding Bracelet

The night before their wedding, JFK presented Jackie with a lovely diamond bracelet which she wore as her “something new”.  The bracelet features 25 diamonds and 18 pearls with two borders on either side of thin and rather whimsical nautical ropes.  Jackie wore the bracelet on her wedding day along with a pearl choker necklace and a diamond leaf brooch that she received as a gift from Joseph and Rose Kennedy, her new in-laws.  Special Note: Jackie’s wedding bracelet was donated after her death to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. 

Diamond and pearl bracelet  - wedding gift from JFK  Diamond and pearl bracelet  - Jackie 

3.  First Anniversary Pearl and Diamond Earrings

For their first year wedding anniversary in 1954, JFK gave Jackie a set of pearl and diamond earrings.  The earrings are interchangeable and can be worn in a variety of different ways.  The diamond pave-set leaves can be worn alone or with either the white pearl drop or black pearl drop sets which both have diamond pave-set flower petal caps.

Pearl and Diamond Earrings - Jackie 1  Pearl and Diamond Earrings - Carolyn

The photo on the left shows Jackie wearing the earrings and the photo on the right shows Caroline wearing her mother’s earrings as her “something borrowed” on her wedding day in 1986.

4.  Schlumberger Berry Brooch

JFK had a custom of marking special occasions with extravagant gifts and shortly after the birth of their son John Kennedy, Jr. in 1960 JFK gave Jackie a lovely Schlumberger Berry Brooch.  What makes the gift more thoughtful was the fact that he purchased the brooch from the Tiffany store in New York while he was in the midst of organizing his presidential administration in the busy months before his inauguration.  The brooch was given to Jackie in January 1961 just a few days before JFK was sworn in as President of the United States.  The brooch was meant to represent the couple’s two children and Jackie absolutely loved it!

The Schlumberger Berry Brooch is set in gold and features rubies and diamonds.  At the time it was one of the few jewelry pieces that Schlumberger made for Tiffany, the exclusive jewelry store located on Fifth Avenue.  After Jackie’s death, Caroline inherited the brooch and it is currently on loan to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston where it can be seen proudly displayed with other Kennedy memorabilia.           

Berry Pin -A Mother's Day Gift from JFK for the Birth of JFK Jr.  Berry Pin - Jackie Kennedy 

5.  Vintage Sunburst Diamond Brooch

While in London in 1962, Jackie found a spectacular sunburst pin in an antique store and she knew she had to have it!  The problem was the brooch had a $50,000 price tag, so to purchase the expensive sunburst brooch Jackie quietly sold the diamond leaf brooches that were a wedding present from Joe and Rose Kennedy; she had copies made so as not to offend her in-laws.

The antique starburst diamond brooch was originally made in the nineteenth century and is set in silver and gold, it was purchased from the British Crown jeweler Wartski.  Jackie wore it often attached to one of her magnificent Oleg Cassini gowns for various White House functions but once she wore it in a very unusual way by having her longtime hair stylist, Kenneth, attach the brooch into an elegant chignon hairstyle which he attached to the top of her head as shown in the photo below.        

Sunburst Brooch
Sunburst Brooch - Jackie Kennedy  Sunburst Brooch - Carolyn

6.  Schlumberger Croisillons Bracelets

JFK purchased one of Jackie’s first Schlumberger croisillons bracelets in 1962 from Tiffany in New York City.  Jackie loved the bracelet and would frequently wear it with her casual daytime outfits; she eventually bought others to add to her collection in a variety of different colors.  In the early 1960s, Jean Schlumberger began making the croisillon bracelets using a paillonné enamel technique first used in the 19th century.  A classic Schlumberger bracelet uses a process of layering enamel over a gold bracelet and, like many women trying to emulate the style of the First Lady, the bracelets worn by Jackie made them very popular and created a new trend. 

Schlumberger Croisillons Bracelet  Schlumberger Croisillons Bracelet - Jackie

7.  Cartier Tank Watch

In 1963 JFK gave Jackie a classic Cartier tank watch and on the back he had engraved, “To Jackie, Love Jack”.  Jackie frequently wore the watch during casual activities such as horseback riding at Glen Ora, the 400 acre property they were leasing in Virginia, or sailing at Hyannis Port with other members of the Kennedy family or simply spending the day shopping in New York City. 

Cartier Tank Watch8.  Van Cleef & Arpels Emerald Ring 

For their tenth year wedding anniversary in 1963, JFK gave Jackie a special emerald ring.  JFK commissioned Van Dleef & Arpels in New York and was designed as an “eternity ring” with ten emeralds representing each year of their marriage; she wore the ring next to her wedding band.  Several years after the death of JFK Jackie had two of the emeralds removed to make two solitaire rings for her children.  One was made for Caroline and the other for John Jr. who gave it to his bride, Carolyn Bessette, on the night before their wedding.  After the death of her brother, the ring was given back and now Caroline Schlossberg owns all three rings.

Emerald anniversary ring

9.  Kunzite Ring

Sadly one of the most significant gifts given to Jackie from JFK was given to her after his death.  In August 1963, the couple had lost their newborn son, Patrick and seemed to be an experience that brought JFK and Jackie closer together in their shared grief and they were very optimistic for their future.  A few months later, JFK was in New York City and he went to Van Cleef & Arpels to order a special ring which featured a large 47 carat kunzite surrounded by 20 diamonds which he intended to give to Jackie for Christmas that year.  Sadly, before that could happen, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

In the days after the President’s death, the ring was delivered to the White House and Mrs. Lincoln, JFK’s personal secretary, gave the ring to Jackie.  The ring, a final posthumous present for her beloved husband, came to hold special sentimental meaning for Jackie.    

Kunzite and diamond ring10.  Multi-strand Faux-Pearl Necklace

Jackie Kennedy’s multi-strand faux-pearl necklaces became one of her most frequently worn jewelry item.  She owned several necklaces in a variety of different lengths ranging from the single-strand pearl choker necklace she wore on her wedding day in 1953 to her most often worn triple-strand pearl necklace 17 inches in length, she also had one 19 inches in length.  Shown below are two charming photos of Jackie’s children tugging at her pearl necklace, Caroline on the left and John Jr. on the right.  

Pearl necklace 1  Pearl necklace 2 

The History of Monograms

A monogram is usually created by combining or overlapping two or more letters. Monograms are frequently used for weddings by taking the first initial of the groom and bride’s names and combing them with the last name of the couple, this idea is still very popular in the southern states.  Major business companies use their initials to create an advertising symbol, a good example of this is the iconic double C used by the Chanel fashion design company founded by Coco Chanel.  In this post, I will discuss the history of the monogram and show several examples of historical monograms and the various ways that monograms can be used on household items, personal clothing or special celebrations.

The History of the Monogram

Centuries ago, the Greeks and Romans used monograms on clay coins as the barter system for purchasing goods and services which eventually led to a monetary system of trade.  During the Middle Ages, artisans would often use their monograms to sign their work and an example of this are the paintings of the famous Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn which can be identified to a particular period in his career by the monogram he used.  At the start of his career, he signed his pieces with a simple single letter R and in the following years as his career progressed he used the combined letters RH and then RHL.

Rembrandts monogram 2

Throughout the years, royalty and other members of the nobility have used monograms to mark their status in society.  Kings and Queens would use monograms to mark their personal property and household items, weaponry and armor, royal banners and coats of arms.

Shown below are several examples of these types of royal monograms:

Napoleon royal monogram on throne - France Percier et FontaineThe throne of Napoleon with his royal monogram

Queen Elizabeth II royal monogram on mailbox 1

The royal monogram of Queen Elizabeth II (ER II) on a British post box

Tsar Alexander III and  Maria Feodorovna royal  monogram on Main Gate at Hermitage

Tsar Alexander III and  Maria Feodorovna royal  monogram on the Hermitage gate in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Tsar Nicholas II royal monogram on Fabergé cigarette box

A Fabergé cigarette box that once belonged to Tsar Nicholas II with his royal monogram

Queen Victoria royal monogram on knickers 1

A monogram on a piece of clothing that once belonged to Queen Victoria

In the 18th century monograms were used to mark linens with the owner’s initials so as to properly retrieve the items from a laundering service in the larger cities or from a communal wash in the smaller villages.  The monogram was usually embroidered onto the item in white thread but red thread was also used since it was the most common and least expensive dye available, the dark color of the monogram made it easier to quickly identify.  Eventually more elaborate monograms were designed with flourishes and scrolls embroidered in beautiful colors of silver or gold thread used by the upper class.

Marie Antoinette royal monogram - goldwork

The embroidered goldwork royal monogram of Marie-Antoinette

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the more opulent and expensive monograms reflected a higher status, wealth and prosperity of the person.  It seemed that every household item from tablecloths and tableware to bed linens and towels to all variety of clothing could be monogrammed.  Royal wedding souvenirs also gained popularity during this time and items were monogrammed with the initials of the bride and groom, this started a popular trend for weddings which has continued into modern times.  

Prince William and Kate Middleton monogram on cake box

A cake box for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton with the intertwined initials of W and C

Monograms have also been used effectively by businesses and companies for marketing purposes throughout the years. The British Rolls-Royce Motor Company which manufactures high-quality vehicles is an example.  The Rolls-Royce logo consists of two letter Rs which represent the names of the owners, Charles Rolls and Sir Frederick Royce, who founded the company in 1906.

Rolls Royce

The Rolls-Royce Motor Company logo

Several companies have used a monogram incorporated into their logo and one of the first in the fashion industry was French designer Coco Chanel.  The Chanel logo was created in 1925 and consists of two interlocking and opposing letters C. 

Chanel logo

The iconic Coco Chanel logo on her classic handbag

Today, especially in the U.S. southern states, the tradition of monograms continues. Monograms are a great way to customize a variety of items from clothing and accessories to household items such as towels, napkins or bedding.  There are certain rules to keep in mind when purchasing monogrammed items.  In general the most common type is the three-initial monogram consisting of the last name initial placed in a large type at the center of the monogram, flanked by the first and middle initials in a smaller type.

Shown below are examples of monograms used on clothing:


A monogram used on the cuff of a man’s dress shirt

Boy shirt monogram 1

A monogram used on a boy’s shirt

Girl dress monogram 1

A monogram used on a girl’s dress

Shown below are some examples of household items with monograms:

Towels monogram 1

An example of a single initial monogrammed towels

Napkin monogram 10

An example of a monogrammed napkin

Monograms are also very popular for weddings and can be incorporated into many items such as invitations, aisle runners, reception, dance floors, wedding cake or perhaps even an antique handkerchief with a blue embroidered initial of the couple’s last name for the bride to carry as the “something blue”!  In general, for a monogrammed wedding item the first initial of the couple would be used with the groom’s first name located to the left and the bride’s first name to the right, the last name initial would be located in the center.  Monograms

Shown below are some examples of monograms used for weddings:

wedding invitation monogram 1 - Crane Engraved Royalty Alexandria Invitation with Gold Bevel

An example of a beautiful monogram on an engraved invitation

Cake monogram

A monogram of the bridal couple can be used on a wedding cake

Wedding reception monogram on dance floor 1

An example of a monogram used on a dance floor

Handkerchief monogram 1

A lovely embroidered handkerchief for “something blue”

Monograms can also be used for baby items or gifts for a christening or a special birthday celebration.  A monogram can be used for a birth announcement, a christening gown or various items of a layette such as a bib, diaper cover or other items of clothing.  A monogram can also be used on a silver spoon or silver baby cup with the child’s birth date also engraved on it and would make a very special baby gift.

Shown below are examples of monograms used for baby or christening items or gifts:

Baby announcement 1 - Crane Letterpress Monogram Birth Announcement with Border

An example of a monogram used for a birth announcement

Baptism gown with monogram

A monogram used on a christening gown

Silver baby cup with monogram

A monogram used on a silver cup makes a lovely baby gift