On April 22nd, 1842, Her Majesty Queen Victoria entrusted this emerald and diamond necklace to Lord George Lennox to carry to her future sister-in-law Alexandrine of Baden in Germany. Accompanying the necklace, which was originally mounted as a tiara, was a note from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: "for Alexandrine, from us both, a very handsome parure of emeralds and diamonds".1 Two weeks later, on May 3rd, 1842, Alexandrine married Prince Ernst of Saxe-Coburg, the elder brother of Prince Albert, the husband of the Queen of England. Alexandrine was the daughter of the Grand Duke Leopold of Baden; her marriage to Ernst united the House of Baden with that of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the oldest lines of German aristocracy, descended from the House of Wettin.
The marriage of Ernst and Alexandrine was a relief to Ernst's family, who had worried for years that he would never settle down. In the fall of 1840, however, when Ernst traveled to the Court at Schwetzingen, he met Princess Alexandrine. Although he had no idea that she would one day be his bride, in his memoirs he recalled his first impression of her as "simple and natural adorned with what remained most precious in her during her whole life." When, over a year later, Ernst proposed marriage to Alexandrine, she accepted. Queen Victoria was delighted at the match. She wrote to King Leopold of Belgium, "Ernest's marriage is a great, great delight to us, Alexandrine is said to be really so perfect." Victoria's early enthusiasm was prophetic. When Ernst and Alexandrine traveled to London on their honeymoon, the Queen and Alexandrine formed a deep friendship. Ernst remarked in his memoirs, "So beautiful a bond of friendship has seldom been seen as that which grew between the Queen of England and my young wife." No doubt that Alexandrine treasured the emerald and diamond parure as a token of that friendship.
As a married woman and a Duchess (Prince Ernst eventually inherited his father's title and became the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), Alexandrine displayed the great kindness that had earned her Ernst and Queen Victoria's devotion. She dedicated much of her energies to charitable enterprises in the realms of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She founded several schools for children. She made herself the protectorate of the "Marienpflege," a children's mental hospital in Gotha as well as for the national association of the Red Cross in Coburg. She also founded Coburg's first public baths. Alexandrine also worked to improve the position of women in society. Her chief accomplishment in this field was the establishment of a school for girls, which still exists today as the High School "Alexandrinum". She also promoted women's associations like the Women's Auxiliary Association and the Women's Advanced Training Association of Gotha, both of which she funded with her own money for the benefit of her subjects.
This historic necklace of nine graduated emeralds each set into a frame of old-mine cut diamonds and suspending five similarly-set diamond and emerald drops is typical of the jewelry made in the early nineteenth century. It is a particularly elaborate example of the late Georgian style of that time. Over one hundred and fifty years after its creation, the necklace remains in exquisite condition.
1This quote from the Queen's Journal entry for 22 April 1842 is used with the permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY