Today marks the 90th Anniversary of the death of Archduchess Isabella, Duchess of Teschen, who died on this day in 1931. Born a Princess of the House of Croÿ, she married Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen, in 1878. The couple had eight daughters and one son, who made prominent marriages within several European royal houses. To mark the day, we are taking a look at the Habsburg Peridot Parure!
Peridots are rarely used in jewellery nowadays, but they were very much in vogue in the Georgian era. This semi-precious stone comes in various shades of green, ranging from olive green to brownish green. Archduchess Isabella’s parure contains a fine selection of these stones with huge size, excellent cut, and a deep olive colour.
The set was reportedly designed by Kochert, the court jeweller to the Habsburg family, in the 1820s. It consists of a tiara, a pair of earrings, a devant de corsage, two brooches and a necklace. The necklace has seven pear-shaped pendents that can be removed and attached to the top of the tiara. By family tradition, the parure’s first owner was Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg, who married Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. It was eventually left to their grandson, Archduke Friedrich, and notably worn by his wife, Archduchess Isabella.
One of the most remarkable occasions where Archduchess Isabella was seen wearing this parure was the Coronation of Emperor Charles I of Austria as King of Hungary, took place in 1916. In 1936, after the passing of Archduke Friedrich, the parure was auctioned off. The buyers were Count Johannes and Countess Lilly of Coudenhove-Kalergi, members of Czech nobility. The set was retained by this family for a couple generations. Countess Marina, daughter of Johannes and Lilly, inherited it and placed it on a bank safety deposit box, where the parure stayed for decades, unworn. When she died in 2000, the jewels were found by her estate administrators, who were really surprised to find such a spectacular set of jewellery.
In 2001, the Peridot Parure was auctioned off at Sotheby’s, reaching around $400,000. The buyer was Fred Leighton, a jewellery firm that deals with antique pieces. The company often loan jewels to celebrities for public appearances, such as galas and prizes. Comedian, actress and Tv host, Joan Rivers wore the necklace and earrings at the Golden Globes in 2004.
Fred Leighton sold the parure (or a part of it) to the very wealthy philanthropist, Lily Safra. In May 2012 the earrings and the brooch were auctioned off at Christies’, together with a fabulous selection of Lili Safra’s jewels that was sold for charity. For now, its whereabouts remain unknown.
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!