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.

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

The Duchess of Windsor’s Jewels


In honor of Wallis Simpson’s birthday (born: June 19, 1896 died: April 24, 1986) this post will be about some of the items in her magnificent jewelry collection.  The story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor has been written about extensively in the history books.  Wallis met Prince Edward the Prince of Wales in 1931 when he was the heir to the throne of England.  Though married to Ernest Simpson, the Prince and Wallis began a scandalous affair (the Prince was known to have an eye for married women).

The affair continued for several years and then in January 1936 King George V died and the Prince became King Edward VIII.  Wallis soon divorced Simpson and the new King’s intention was to marry her but there was strong opposition from the British government on a twice divorced women (she had almost been previously married to Earl Spencer) becoming Queen of England.  After reigning for only for 11 months, the King abdicated the throne on December 10, 1936.  

The new Duke and Duchess of Windsor were married on June 3, 1937 at the Chateau de Cande in France.  During their 35 years together the Duke gave Wallis many necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earrings which he often purchased from Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier.  Many of the items were custom designed and given as gifts to commemorate special occasions often inscribed with personal messages from the Duke. 


After the death of the Duchess, her jewels were sold at auction by Sotheby’s.  The sale took place in April 1987 in Geneva, Switzerland bringing in $50.3 million dollars for the Pasteur Institute which is a hospital and research center located in Paris, France. This was a personal request of the Duchess prior to her death because she and the Duke felt the need to show their appreciation to the people of France where they had lived after being banished from England.

Sotherby's Duchess of Windsor Auction catulog

A few of the most important items from the Duchess of Windsor jewelry collection are listed below:

1. The Prince of Wales Brooch

Prince Edward gave Wallis the Prince of Wales brooch in 1935 and it is an important piece of jewelry which bears special meaning since is the symbol of his royal status as the Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne of England, and demonstrates his commitment to her and his intention to make Wallis his future Queen.  The brooch was specially commissioned by Prince Edward and features three pave-set diamond feathers accented with baguette-cut diamonds which are gathered together by a crown, the piece is set in platinum and 18k gold.

Prince of Wales Brooch  Prince of Wales Broch - Wallis

After the death of the Duchess, the Prince of Wales brooch was purchased by Elizabeth Taylor at the Sotheby’s auction for a price over $623,000.  Elizabeth and Richard Burton had been friends with the Duke and Duchess and she often admired the brooch during her visits.  When the brooch went on the auction block, Elizabeth intended to bid on the item for sentimental reasons since Richard Burton was born in Wales.  It is said that the brooch is the first piece of significant jewelry that she had ever bought for herself. Ultimately, upon the death of Elizabeth in 2011 the Prince of Wales brooch was once again sold at the Christie’s auction of Taylor’s jewelry collection for $1,314,500.          

2.  Cartier Cross Charm Bracelet

The Cartier cross charm bracelet was a gift from Prince Edward to Wallis in 1934.  The bracelet features a diamond bracelet with nine jeweled crosses engraved with various messages “handwritten” by the Prince.  The bracelet was one of Wallis’ favorite pieces of jewelry from the Prince and she wore it often, most notably she was photographed wearing it on the infamous and highly scandalous Nahlin cruise in the summer of 1936 which publicly exposed the relationship of Wallis and the Prince to the world for the first time.

Cartier cross charm bracelet

3.  Duchess of Windsor Engagement Ring

The engagement ring given by Prince Edward, known to his family and friends as David, to Wallis is a stunning 19.77 carat emerald ring by Cartier.  It is engraved with a personal message “We are ours now 27 X 36”.  This means that he proposed on October 27, 1936 which according to the date was prior to his abdication.  In 1958, the Duchess went back to Cartier to have the ring redesigned in a more modern style of yellow gold set with several diamonds.

Duchess of Windsor engagement ring - sketch

  Duchess of Windsor engagement ring  Duchess of Windsor engagement ring - Wallis Simpson

4.  Van Cleef & Arpels Ruby and Diamond Brooch

The Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond brooch was given to Wallis from David for Christmas 1936, although they spent the holiday separately.  With his recent abdication on December 10, 1936 renouncing the throne of England as King Edward VIII, David went into exile in Austria and while Wallis was living in Cannes, France waiting until her divorce from Simpson was absolute.

Because of these complications, David wanted to send Wallis a special Christmas gift which two holly leaves, the flower of the holiday season.  The double feathered brooch was one of the first jewelry pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels to use an “invisible” setting for the rubies and baguette diamonds.  At the 1987 Duchess of Windsor auction, held after her death, the Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond brooch sold for an amazing price of $806,000.   

Van Cleef Arpels ruby and diamond feather brooch  Van Cleef Arpels ruby and diamond feather brooch - Wallis

5.  Van Cleef & Arpels Ruby and Diamond Necklace

The Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond necklace was originally commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for the Duchess and intended as a gift for her 40th birthday which would take place days after their wedding.  The clasp of the necklace is bears the inscription, “My Wallis from her David” and dated June 19, 1936.

Later, Wallis had the necklace redesigned by Rene-Sim Lacaze of Van Cleef & Arpels to incorporate the original rubies and diamonds plus the addition of a few more stones!  The new platinum setting featured rows of rubies and diamonds intertwined and ending in a spectacular cascade of rubies.  The Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond Necklace sold for an astounding $2,603,308 at the 1987 Duchess of Windsor auction. 

Van Cleef Arpels Ruby Necklace sketches

Van Cleef Arpels Ruby Necklace  Van Cleef Arpels Ruby Necklace - Wallis and David

6.  Cartier Flamingo Brooch

The Cartier flamingo brooch was commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for the Duchess in 1940 as a birthday gift; he had collaborated with Cartier jewelry designer Jeanne Toussaint.  It was completed shortly before the couple had to flee the country during World War II as the Nazis invaded France.  The brooch was set in platinum and featured a whimsical flamingo perched on one leg, the flamingo’s body, head, neck and legs are pave-set with diamonds.  The flamingo has one sapphire eye and a yellow citrine cabochon and blue sapphire form its beak.  The tail feathers of the flamingo were a colorful array of emeralds, rubies and sapphires.  Wallis wore the brooch for the first time on a trip to Madrid in 1940 and it became one of her favorite pieces of jewelry and she wore it frequently.    

Van Cleef Arpels Flamingo Brooch sketch

Van Cleef Arpels Flamingo brooch  Van Cleef Arpels Flamingo brooch - Wallis


7.  Cartier Diamond and Onyx Panther Bracelet

The iconic Cartier diamond and onyx panther bracelet was custom-made for the Duchess of Windsor.  In 1952 the Duchess collaborated with the Cartier jeweler Jeanne Toussaint to create the unique design that allows the bracelet to gently wrap around the wrist instead of being rigid.  The beautiful and fully articulated body of the panther is set in platinum with diamonds and black onyx; the eyes of the panther are set with marquise-shaped emeralds.  At the 1987 Duchess of Windsor auction, held after her death, the Cartier diamond and onyx panther bracelet sold for $1.27 million.  Twenty-three years later, the bracelet again went on the Sotheby’s auction block in 2010 and was sold again for £4.5m.  

Cartier onyx and diamond panther bracelet Cartier onyx and diamond panther bracelet - Wallis

8.  Cartier Windsor 20th Wedding Anniversary Brooch

The Cartier brooch was made to commemorate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s twentieth wedding anniversary in 1957 and was a gift to Wallis.  The brooch was designed to incorporate several meaningful symbols that were important to the couple.  The heart-shaped brooch is pave-set with numerous diamonds and measures approximately 34mm x 38mm x 10mm.  In the center are the intertwined initials W and E (Wallis and Edward) set with calibré-cut emeralds, beneath that are the Roman Numeral XX (20) set with calibré-cut rubies and at the top of the heart brooch is a coronet set with more calibré-cut rubies.

Cartier Windsor 20th anniversary brooch

Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr.

Indiana Jones

On this date “Indiana Jones – The Raiders of the Lost Ark” premiered on June 1, 1981.  So, in this post I will discuss Indiana Jones and the inspiration behind the iconic movie character.  Then, I will discuss the various elements of the Indiana Jones story and important pieces of his costume; such as his leather jacket, fedora and the whip.  Finally, I will end with a brief synopsis of the each of the four Indiana Jones movies.

George Lucas, the American film director, producer and screenwriter of the successful “Star Wars” movie franchise is also responsible for creating the character of Indiana Jones.  It was while vacationing in Hawaii with his friend and fellow filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the time of the release of the first Star Wars movie that they discussed possible ideas for their next film.  They both fondly remembered from their childhood the old short-film serials and popular books about action/adventure heroes … and the character of Indiana Jones was created!   

According to the fictional backstory, the character of Henry Jones, Jr. (also known as Indiana Jones or “Indy”) was born in 1899 to Anna and Henry Jones, Sr.  His mother came from a wealthy family in Virginia and his father originally came from Scotland and went to Oxford University in England.  After his parent’s marriage in 1898 the family eventually moved to New Jersey where his father was a professor of Medieval Studies at Princeton University, he has an interest, his wife would say an obsession, with the Holy Grail.  Professor Jones, Sr. took his family with him on his lecture tour through various parts of the United States and Europe.  Along the way Henry Jr. had many adventures in which he met several famous people and witnessed numerous historical events.  These stories are told in the television series, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, which I would highly recommend seeing if you can find a copy of the DVDs.  (Trivia: The origin of Henry Jr’s nickname came from the family dog that was named Indiana, and eventually Junior took the name for himself much to the annoyance of Henry, Sr.  The ultimate fate of the dog is unknown!)

Adventures of Young Indiana Jones

Sadly, Indy’s mother died of scarlet fever in 1912 when Indy was only 13 years old.  Afterwards, his distraught father spent most of his time working or indulging in his quest for the Holy Grail.  Meanwhile, Indy was finding interests of his own and when he came across the Cross of Coronado during a Boy Scout expedition in Utah he became fascinated with archaeology.  Later, Indy would go to the University of Chicago and then would spend his summers with his former teacher and mentor, Abner Ravenwood, overseas working at numerous archaeology digs.  Later Indy became a professor at Marshall College (a fictional educational institution somewhere in Connecticut) teaching archaeology and occasionally he would consult with Marcus Brody and frequently donated his “found” treasures to Brody’s museum.  It is at this time in his life that we meet Indy in the first movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.  (Later in the post there will be a brief synopsis of each of the movies)

It seems that the character of Indiana Jones lives in two very different worlds.  The first was centered on a campus where he wears the conservative tweed suit of a college professor, even wearing a pair of glasses to add to his scholarly look.  Indy would teach classes filled with adoring female students and he would give lectures on ancient civilizations as part of his archaeology courses.

Professor Henry Jones Jr  Indiana Jones 1a

On breaks from his life as a college professor, Indy would travel to distant places in South America, the Middle East or Europe where he would search of various historical treasures.  At these times Indy would dress in an entirely different way more suitable to the site of the archaeology digs.  He wore a khaki shirt with two large pockets on the front and brown wool and twill pants (made by the film costume department and inspired by a pair of World War II Army officer trousers known as “Pinks”)   Indy wore sturdy Alden boots (a personal preference of Harrison Ford) and he also carried a satchel similar to a Mark VII gas mask bag used by the British during World War II.

Indiana Jones costume

Indy’s weapons of choice were a pistol (the type varied for each film) which he would secure at his side in a military-style leather flap holster.  Indy also carried a bullwhip which he would attach to his belt, he was quite the expert at using it!  (Trivia: In the famous marketplace scene in “Raider of the Lost Ark” when Indy shoots the swordsman during a confrontation Ford completely improvised the action.  The story line originally had Indy disarming the swordsman with his whip but Ford thought that was not realistic and choose to improvised the action instead by using his pistol!)

The bullwhip used in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was actually owned by the film’s stunt coordinator, Glenn Randall.  For the other three Indiana Jones films the bullwhips were made by David Morgan.  Morgan was known as the best whip maker in the United States and the ones he made for Indy were made from kangaroo hide and ranged in length from 8 to 10 feet depending on the scenes stunts. (Trivia: Cleverly Harrison Ford’s real life scar chin was incorporated into the story of Indiana Jones.  During the opening scenes of the “Last Crusade” a young Indy misuses a whip to protect himself from a lion while being chased through a circus train and the mishap causes the scar)

Perhaps the most iconic items of Indy’s clothing were the leather jacket and his fedora.  The first item was a leather jacket which was inspired by the American fighter pilots of the 1930s.  The Wested Leather Co. of London made the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” lambskin jacket; later the movie costume department “distressed” the jacket to give it an aged appearance.  Several additional jackets were used for the three other Indiana Jones films and they were made of more durable cowskin.

The second iconic item was Indiana Jones’ fedora, for the first three films the hats were made by Herbert Johnson Hatters of England and for the fourth film the hat was made by the Adventurbilt Hat Company of Columbus, Mississippi.  The Indiana Jones fedora features a board brimmed brown hat of the 1930s which was probably better suited to be worn in an urban setting rather than the site of an archaeological dig.    The original hat featured a pinched front and a tall crown but for the other three films the hat became more tapered and had a shorter crown.  Somehow, through all of Indy’s adventures in the movies whenever his hat is knocked off he always seems to recover! 

Smithsonian Indiana Jones display

(Trivia: The fedora and leather jacket from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” are on display at the Smithsonian Institution‘s American History Museum in Washington, D.C.)

Harrison Ford has portrayed Indiana Jones in all four of the movies; the 1981 “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the 1984 “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, the 1989 “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and almost twenty years later in the 2008 “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.  (Trivia: Ford was not George Lucas’ first choice to play Indy, he had already cast him as Han Solo in Star Wars and felt he was too strongly identified with that role.  Tom Selleck, better known at the time for his television role as “Magnum P.I.”, was considered for the part but because of scheduling conflicts he was unable to do the movie.)

A brief synopsis of the Indiana Jones films

Raiders of the Lost Ark poster 1

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark –

Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1981, it was directed by Steven Spielberg with a story by George Lucas. The cast included Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, John Rhys-Davies as Salljah, Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody and Paul Reeman as Dr. Rene Belloq. 

The story takes place in 1936 and begins in the jungle of Peru where Indiana Jones is in the search of archaeological treasures and encounters his rival named Rene Belloq.  Later, Indy returns to his job as professor at Marshall College which is located near the museum of his friend, Dr. Marcus Brody.  Shortly after arriving back in the United States Indy is visited by Army intelligence agents who request his help against the German Nazis who are searching for an item owned by Abner Ravenwood, Indy’s former mentor, which would help them in recovering the mysterious Ark of the Covenant.  His friend, Dr. Marcus Brody, who is the curator the local museum, encourages Indy to take up the challenge.  With the aid of Marion Ravenwood and Salljah they follow the clues and eventually find the Ark only to lose it to the Nazis who are led by Belloq.  The Ark is finally recovered and at the end of the movie we see it being moved into a large warehouse to be stored indefinitely by the U.S. government.

Temple of Doom poster

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom –

The Temple of Doom was released in 1984, it was directed by Steven Spielberg with a story by George Lucas. The cast included Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Kate Capshaw as “Willie” Scott, Jonathan Ke Quan as “Short Round” and Amrish Puri as Mola Ram.

The story takes place in 1935 and begins with Indiana Jones narrowly escaping from a Shanghai nightclub with a young Chinese boy named “Short Round” and the club feisty singer named “Willie” Scott.  Through several mishaps they land in a remote part of India near a village where the children have mysteriously gone missing.  Eventually this leads the trio to a hidden temple where they find that the children have been stolen by the evil Mola Ram to work in the mine.  Indy becomes involved in trying to recover the sacred Sankara Stones and, in the end, he finds them and also sets the children free to return to their village. (Trivia:  It has been said that the reason for the dark and sinister plotline of “Temple of Doom” was prompted by the fact that George Lucas was in the process of getting divorced)   

Last Crusade poster

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade –

The Last Crusade was released in 1989, it was directed by Steven Spielberg with a story by George Lucas. The cast included Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr, Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider, a brief appearance by River Phoenix as the young Indiana and two returning characters with Denholm Elliott as Maracus Brody and John Rhys-Davies as Sallah

The movie begins in 1912 with a young Indian Jones who is on a Boy Scout expedition in Utah and literally stumbles onto a group attempting to steal some ancient treasures.  Indy thinking that the Cross of Coronado belongs in a museum steals the treasure and as a result is chased by the men.  It is this part of the story that explains many of the elements of Indy’s character because as he is being chased he tries to escape on a passing circus train where he lands in a crate of snakes (prompting his fear of snakes), then in the car holding the lions Indy uses a bullwhip to protect himself (by incorrectly using the whip, it causes a cut on his chin which explains his scar) and finally as the men catch up to him and recover the ancient relic, the leader of the group rewards Indy’s bravery by giving him his hat (which becomes the iconic Indiana Jones fedora).  We also learn to offer things about Indy, first that his malamute dog is named Indiana (the real origin of his nickname) and secondly the Cross of Coronado sparks his interest in finding other lost treasures and an eventually career in archaeology.

Then, the movie moves forward in time to 1938 as an adult Indy finally recovers the Cross of Coronado in his quest to have the ancient relic put into a museum.  As Indy returns home, the Coronado’s Cross in given to the museum where his friend Marcus Brody is a curator.  Later, Indy finds out that his long estranged father, Henry Jones Sr., has vanished during his search for the Holy Grail.  Strangely, a package from Indy’s father arrives in the mail, it is Henry the notebook which contains the glue he has gathered in his search for the Grail.  Indy and Brody leave for Venice to search for Indy’s father and to meet Elsa Schneider who was assisting him at the time of his disappearance.  Ultimately, Indy finds his father who is being held by the Nazis in a castle on the border of Austria and Germany.  As, it turns out Elsa was working with the Nazis and steals the Grail notebook that Indy’s father had sent to him for safe keeping.  With a brief detour to Berlin and a face to face meeting with Adolf Hitler, Indy recovers the notebook.  After gaining additional clues with the aid of his old friend, Sallah, it leads them to the hidden temple where the Nazis catch up to them.  In the end, the Holy Grail is found, the Nazis are killed as the temple collapses, Indy, his father and friends barely escape and the movie ends with them riding off into the sunset!    

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull –

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released in 2008, it was directed by Steven Spielberg with a story by George Lucas. The cast included Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Karen Allen returns in her role as Marion Ravenwood, Kate Blanchett plays a Soviet agent named Irina Spalko, John Hurt as Harold “Ox” Oxley and Shia LeBeouf plays Mutt Williams who is revealed during the movie to be the son of Indy and Marion, also known as Henry Jones III.  

The movie is set in 1957 and begins in a secret location in the Nevada dessert.  Soviet agents led by Irina Spalko are accompanied by Indiana Jones as they break into a U.S. Government warehouse (could it possibly be the same facility where they stored the Ark of the Covenant over 20 years earlier?) to find an alien corpse with a mysterious crystal skull.  The Soviets are unsuccessful and Indy escapes only to get caught in the middle of an atomic bomb test, he survives the nuclear blast by climbing into a lead-lined refrigerator and is rescued by the FBI who suspect that he is working with the Soviets.

Indy returns to Marshall College but is forced to take a leave of absence until he can be cleared of any involvement with the Soviets.  At this time, it is revealed that both Indy’s father, Henry Jones Sr., and also Indy’s friend, Marcus Brody, have died.  Then, a young man named Mutt Williams finds Indy and tells him that he knows a man, Harold Oxley, that has found another crystal skull in the jungles of Peru but he has recently suffered a mental breakdown and disappeared so he is asking Indy’s help in finding him.  When Indy and Mutt arrive in South America it was Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s former love, that has sent for him but that the only surprising thing.  In a unexpected twist of the story we learn that Mutt is actually the son of both Marion and Indy!  As the story progresses, they eventually find “Ox” who is being held by Irina and the Soviets that are still searching for the crystal skull.  As the story comes to a dramatic conclusion the legend of the crystal skull and the connections to aliens is finally revealed.  The movie comes to a happy end when Indy and Marion are married … and they live happily ever after!!

But wait, the story of Indiana Jones is not over!  Throughout the years, rumors of another Indiana Jones movie have been speculated and in March 2016 it was officially announced that there will be a fifth Indiana Jones movie which is currently in development with a possible release date of July 2019.