One of the things I’ve always loved about jewellery is the history that often comes with older pieces. The Rosebery suite of jewels being auctioned at Christies in London on June 8 has a romantic and and tragic past. It was owned by Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery, who died suddenly at age 39. Born Hannah de Rothschild, she was the only child of the immensely wealthy Baron and Baroness Meyer de Rothschild and became the wealthiest woman in Britain when her father died, leaving her two million pounds.
She married the 5th Earl of Rosebery in what was seen at the time as a shocking match, given the anti-semitism of the time. Her fortune enabled him to pursue politics (he was a short-lived prime minister after her death from typhoid) and the couple had four children. Once one of the most compelling figure in British society, today she is fairly unknown.
Her suite of jewels is being offered and described as part of a private collection. The tiara is being offered in a separate lot from the bracelet and brooch. It is described in the Christie’s catalogue as: Designed as a series of six bouton-shaped natural pearls and old-cut diamond clusters, interspersed by diamond florettes to the seven detachable graduated drop-shaped natural pearl and diamond surmounts, the pearls measuring, converts to form a series of six brooches, circa 1878, inner circumference 29.7cm, in fitted case by R&S Garrard & Co., Haymarket, London. The estimate is £1,000,000 – £1,500,000; the other set is estimated as £300,000 – £400,000 but the provenance may play a role in the final hammer price.