Gold, silver and diamond tiara, made by Hunt & Roskell

London, England, around AD 1855

'Convertible' jewellery

The tiara is formed of three sprays of naturalistic oak leaves and acorns, which can be transformed into a brooch or a pair of comb mounts; the brooch and tiara frame of gold, the combs of tortoiseshell. A certain economy in the wearing of jewels on formal occasions, and changes in dress and hair fashion led to the development of jewellery that could be mounted in a number of different ways. 'Convertible' jewellery rarely survives with all its alternative mounts, making this set especially remarkable.

Mrs Hull Grundy's collection of naturalistic jewellery is the largest and most important of any collection of this type. This example still has its original velvet-lined case. Mrs Hull Grundy understood the importance of these: English jewellery is often unmarked, and the known dates of the retailer's and case-maker's operations can help pinpoint the date of the jewellery , that otherwise could only be placed in a period of several decades, that is, when it was fashionable (see the necklace with hummingbirds heads).

Here the case is labelled 'Hunt & Roskell, 156 New Bond Street', with a Viscount's coronet and monogram 'MP' stamped in gold on the lid, and a blind-stamp 'K' for the case-maker Carl Jacob Kitz of Red Lion Square.

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More information

Bibliography

C. Gere and others, The art of the jeweller: a cat, 2 vols. (, 1984)

Dimensions

Width: 4.800 cm (central spray)
Width: 4.800 cm (central spray)
Diameter: 16.300 cm (circlet)

Museum number

M&ME Hull Grundy Catalogue 28

MCT2263

Gift of Professor and Mrs John Hull Grundy

Location

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