I was putting a thread legend of 25 colours together this weekend and the sun was pouring through the window bouncing light around the room. The skeins of silks were shimmering and flashing in the late afternoon sun and I felt as if my lap was full of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, opals, garnets, peridots and topazes.
Pondering on how silks are like liquid jewels two images came to mind: the big cat in Mary Dean's sampler and the "Big Cats" in the jewellery collection of Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.
The Duchess of Windsor jewellery collection consisted of 214 pieces and grew out of the most controversial love story of modern times. Wallis and Edward married in a private ceremony on 3 June 1937, at Chateau de Candé in France and changed the course of history in the process.
The couple marked the milestones of their romance and 20 years of their marriage with jewelled gifts and the collection tells Wallis and Edward's story in a most personal way.
Edward VIII showered the love of his life, throughout their marriage with the finest Jewels. Indeed, so possessive was King Edward VIII of Wallis and the jewellery he gave her, that he instructed that the Duchess of Windsor collection of jewels be dismantled after her death. He didn't want any other woman ever to wear them, but his wishes were not carried out.
The Three Ostrich Plume Diamond Brooch was designed in 1935, by Edward (who was at the time, the Prince of Wales) for his future bride, before the wedding in 1937. It was sold by Sotheby's to the late Elizabeth Taylor.
American actress, Elizabeth Taylor, was an avid Jewelry Collector and a close friend of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. She purchased the antique diamond ostrich plume brooch as she admired it when Wallis Simpson wore it, and bought it mainly for sentimental reasons.
Sapphires were the Duchess of Windsor's favourite gemstone; Wallis thought the colour of blue sapphires brought out the colour of her eyes, and they probably did!
Rubies, Diamonds, Emeralds and Blue Sapphires feature in the Cartier Flamingo Clip.
Among the Duchess of Windsor Collection of jewelry gifts, Edward lavished on Wallis Simpson was the signature 'Great Cats' commissioned from the House of Cartier.
It was the famous Panther Bracelet that enjoyed pride of place among Wallis Simpson's Big Cat Jewelry Collection.
Another big cat, The Duchess of Windsor acquired is the Diamond and Sapphire Panther Pin made by Cartier In 1949. The big cat on this pin appears crouching in a lifelike pose, ready to leap over the moon; on a large perfectly round cabochon star sapphire weighing 152.35 carats. The panther pin was one of the Wallis Simpson's favorite pieces.
The Leopard's Head has been the London Town mark, (crowned & uncrowned) from 1478 to the present. The lion has been a symbol of the King of England, i.e., Lion Hearted King of England. It is also the national animal of England and has been associated with English royalty for hundreds of years.
The "big cats": the tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard, belong to the genus Panthera. Their common trait is their powerful roar. Were the cats, Edward placed in the hands of the lady he adored, a silent roar declaring he was a King?
The V&A is renowned for its collection of textiles and fashion. It also has one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world.
Over 3,000 jewels tell the story of jewellery in Europe from ancient times to the present day. The video clip "Spotlight on the V & A Jewellery Collection" (running time of 10 minutes) is a tantalizing glimpse of the collection.
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