Friday, February 5

Tudor Bling

The rumor is she wore it to cover a big mole. But, there is no telling really. Maybe she just liked it.

Anne Boleyn
Artist and Date Unknown

Like most of the jewelry from the House of Tudor, Anne Boleyn's "B" Necklace did not survive the brief reign of Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan and anti-Royalist who seized control from King Charles I after a complicated civil war. I'm to lazy to get into the specifics so I'll just let this painting of Cromwell checking out the recently executed Charles do the talking:

Cromwell before the Coffin of Charles I
by Paul Delarouche c.1849
The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Cromwell destroyed it, along with almost all of the other remaining jewels from the House of Tudor. It's a real shame too. Henry loved bling and showered Anne and his other wives and mistresses with it. His daughter Elizabeth, the last Tudor monarch, also had a well recorded love for jewelry, pearls in particular. She literally encrusted herself with them:

Queen Elizabeth I, The Pelican Portrait
By Nicolas Hilliard c. 1575-1580
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England

There are a few pieces that did manage to escape Cromwell. The Imperial State Crown, made for Queen Victoria in 1838, contains two large drop pearls once worn by Elizabeth as earrings. (1) It is on display at the Tower of London with the other crown jewels. (Didn't see those either. Stupid tour guide.)

And this remarkable little ring, worn by Elizabeth in remembrance of her doomed mother, also survived:

The Maritime Museum, London

The locket ring contained two minuarture portraits, one of Elizabeth and one of her mother. The portraits, made of enamel, are protected by a gold, rubies and diamonds.

At first glance, I thought the ring's shank was made of out chalcedony or possibly ivory. But a little research revealed it is mother of pearl (duh, the woman loved pearls!) I think the fact that it is still beautifully intact is really something. While mother of pearl itself is pretty tough, when it comes in contact with water or sweat the things mounted into it fall right out. This is not an wear it everyday kind of ring, but apparently she did just that. Of course, Elizabeth I wasn't exactly doing dishes or scrubbing shower grout...

In case you are interested in looking like Anne (or Ugly Betty), you can buy a reproduction of Anne's "B" from The Anne Boleyn Files or from several sellers on Etsy. The brooch I pictured on Monday was also from The Anne Boleyn Files.

(1) The Official Website of the British Monarchy, The Crown Jewels


  1. I will be on the look out for these when I got to London this summer!

  2. Please let me know what you think of them!

  3. Beautiful necklaces look rather sad on a headless person. Being married to Henry wasn't worth it.

  4. How sad is it that I watch Ugly Betty all the time and had NO idea this was the inspiration behind her necklace?

  5. Isn't that a really random origin for Betty's necklace! MofSG are you in CLT and do we know each other? We may... Email me

    Love ya'll's blog!