Royal jewels are always something special given their incredible history, and they are not often seen in public. On March 24, Sotheby's is hosting a true landmark auction featuring some of Queen Victoria's "mourning jewelry." The monarch wore the pieces when she grieved following the death of her daughter, Princess Alice. The special pieces are part of sale of the estate of Patricia Knatchbull, the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, a first-cousin of Prince Philip and third-cousin of the Queen.
More than 350 items once owned by Patricia will hit the auction block, including jewelry, furniture, books, paintings and objets d'art. (Click on the gallery above to see a more detailed look at some of the pieces in the auction.) Her collection features some incredible treasures. The sale also has gifts from her father, Louis Mountbatten, such as those he designed himself, and jewels that once belonged to her mother, Edwina Mountbatten.
The 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma had an exquisite collection of jewels, including a 1930s jabot bin with a carved sapphire bird with a wreath of carved emerald leaves. There are also "Tutti Frutti" style jewels, like a gem set and diamond wreath of carved emeralds, rubies and sapphires that have an estimated value of between $70,425 to $105,673.
The mourning pieces in the Countess Mountbatten's collection are some of the most intriguing. Patricia was Queen Victoria's great-great-granddaughter. The long-reigning monarch suffered many losses during her lifetime, and she showcased her acts of mourning in a sentimental and public way, including wearing mementos from her lost loved ones. Victoria also famously wore black every single day for forty years following the death of her dear husband, Prince Albert.
The pieces in the auction associated with Alice, who died from diphtheria aged 35, carry a sentimental note. They include three brooches. One cross-shaped item features the name of Victoria's third child on an onyx heart that's also decorated with diamonds and enamel. It includes a lock of Alice's hair on the reverse.
There are four pieces of Victoria's mourning jewelry in the lot, and Sotheby's says this is the first time they are being auctioned. They had previously been passed down through the family.
The pieces in the auction come from Newhouse, the home Lady Mountbatten shared with her husband John Knatchbull, 7th Lord Brabourne, a captain in the armed forces who later went on to be an accomplished film producer. He was behind A Passage to India and adaptations of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. He passed away in 2005 and Patricia died in 2017, leaving behind their 18th century home.
Sotheby's has estimates ranging from $140 - $176,000 for various items in the lot. Those interested can find further details on the Sotheby's website.
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