A pair of Royal bracelets

A sumptuous pair of diamond bracelets, circa 1850, set with portrait miniatures of Queen Thérèse of Bavaria, née Princess of Saxe Hildburghausen and King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

These bracelets were accompanied by their original fitted cases and also by handwritten notes stating that they had originally been in the collection of the Duchess of Calabria who had inherited them in 1915 as an heirloom from the Duchess of Modena (see image above).

Portrait of a lady wearing a pair of coral bracelets, one on each arm, attributed to Robert Lefèvre, circa 1820

It is very rare indeed to come across jewels of royal provenance in such perfect condition and especially so when accompanied by original documentation of provenance.

Portrait miniatures at this time were of course very important while photography was still in its infancy, and it was common practice to incorporate them in lockets, the back of pendants and other more important jewels, especially those employed or commissioned as royal presentations or gifts.

Portrait of the French author Delphine de Girardin (1804-1855) wearing a pair of gold and gem set bracelets, one on each arm, Louis Hersent, (1777-1860), oil on canvas, 1824 | Musée de l’Histoire de France, Palace of Versailles

Portrait of Elisabeth Alexandrine von Württemberg, Margravine of Baden (1779-1826) wearing a pair of gold bracelets, one on each arm, by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1831

It is important to remember that throughout the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century bracelets were traditionally worn in pairs – one on each arm (see accompanying images). However, very few pairs of bracelets have survived; death and family division meant that they would have been separated and given to different members of the family often by specific bequest.

Le Follet, Courrier des Salons, Journal des Modes, March 1840, fashion plate showing a lady in evening dress wearing a pair of bracelets, one on each arm