The Jewels of Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawaii

Today marks the 105th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawaii, who passed away on this day in 1917! The accomplished Princess who became the only Queen Regnant and the last Sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Liliʻuokalani possessed a lovely jewellery collection, some of which are now on display her former Residence, the ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu! 

But first, lets learn about Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawaii! The daughter of Analea Keohokālole and Caesar Kapaʻakea, she was raised by Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia, baptised as a Christian and educated at the Royal School alongside other children of the nobility who had claims to the Throne. In 1862, she married American John Owen Dominis, later the Governor of Oʻahu, and the couple had several adopted but no biological children. After the accession of her brother, King Kalākaua, to the Hawaiian Throne, she was created a Princess, and became the Heir to the Throne after the death of her younger brother in 1877. Crown Princess Liliʻuokalani represented Hawaii at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, and was also an accomplished author and songwriter, creating some of the most popular Hawaiian Songs. Queen Liliʻuokalani ascended to the Throne in 1891, and attempted to draft a new constitution, which led to her overthrow in 1893, by a pro-American coup which eventually led to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States, after which the Queen, who had been in house arrest form 1893 until her forced abdication in 1895, lived as a private citizen, publishing her memoir, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, before passing away in 1917. 

Diamond Star Tiara

Queen Liliʻuokalani was pictured wearing a Diamond Star Tiara, composed of  five Diamond Stars over a gold base, which was worn by the Queen for a few official portraits, sometimes with a smaller Diamond Tiara behind, which may be one previously worn by her sister-in-law, Queen Kapiʻolani. After the Queen’s death, her jewels were sold to fund the establishment and maintenance of an orphanage, when the Tiara was worn by a model around 1924. The current location is unknown. 

Diamond Necklace

The Queen’s collection also including a Victorian Diamond Necklace, similar in style to the Duchess of Albany’s Diamond Necklace, which she not only wore as a necklace, but it was also worn as a Tiara in her official accession portrait in 1891, with the Diamond Butterfly brooch as an Aigrette. The Necklace was among the Jewels which were auctioned, and its fate remains unknown.  

Diamond Butterfly Brooch

When the then Crown Princess accompanied her sister-in-law, Queen Kapiʻolani for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations in 1887, she bought a diamond Butterfly Brooch composed of 159 diamonds with two tiny ruby eyes set en tremblant, which allows the butterfly wings to flutter when in motion. The Brooch was worn by Queen Liliʻuokalani in her hair in one of her most iconic portraits, and also as an Aigrette on top of the Diamond Necklace in her official accession portrait. Auctioned in 1924, the Butterfly Brooch is the star attraction of the jewels reacquired by the ʻIolani Palace, where it remains on display.  

Tiger Claw Necklace

A gift to Queen Liliuokalani from the King of Siam, the Tiger Claw Necklace is composed twisted gold chain with nine tiger claws hanging from seven gold filigree balls and ovoid filigree clasp, and was sold at an auction in 1924 when it was purchased by an individual from Toledo, Ohio. In 1927, a Mrs. F. Walbridge gifted the necklace to the Honolulu Museum of Art, who have loaned it to the ʻIolani Palace, where the Necklace has been on display since 2000.  

Brooches and Bracelets 

Queen Liliuokalani’s collection also included several Brooches, Pendants, and bracelets, the majority of which were auctioned to fund the orphanage in 1924. Among the jewels most worn were a Diamond Floral Brooch, which has also been reacquired by the ʻIolani Palace, along with a Bangle and a small Diamond Brooch. 


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