Fine Jewellery - 15 Jul 2021


A pair of mid 19th century diamond and ruby drop earrings, with provenance

£15,000 - £20,000 £37,000

A pair of mid 19th century diamond and ruby drop earrings, each earring centred with a cushion-shaped ruby and graduated circular-cut diamonds in scrolling silver and gold mounts and suspending a larger pear-shaped diamond, later peg fittings, pear-shaped diamonds approximately 5.50cts total, smaller diamonds approximately 3.50cts total, 4.5cm high, possible alterations, S.J Phillips case, 139 New Bond Street

Accompanied by report number 81307-49 dated 19 May 2021 from GCS stating that the cushion-cut rubies are natural rubies with no indications of heat treatment. Origin: Burma (Myanmar).

Provenance: Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry (1878-1959), thence by direct family descent.


Edith Chaplin (1878-1959) was the daughter of the 1st Viscount Chaplin and his wife Lady Florence Leveson-Gower, daughter of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland.  In 1899 she married Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh who became the 7th Marquess of Londonderry on the death of his father in 1915. 

Among the several important properties that Charles inherited in the British Isles was Mount Stewart, the seat of the Stewart family in County Down, Northern Ireland, where Edith created a legendary garden and where the family still live today.  The micro climate of the Ards Peninsula, that favors exotic and original planting, led to the Mount Stewart garden – now cared for by the National Trust - being voted among the ‘Ten Great Gardens of the World’ and nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was from Londonderry House, on London’s Park Lane, that Edith organized the Women’s Legion for work in the First World War and led to her being made the first ever Dame Commander in the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire.  After the war she became London’s most important and influential political hostess whose Eve of Parliament receptions were famous for their lavish hospitality.  Edith’s appearance at the top of the Londonderry House staircase wearing the fabulous Londonderry jewels – a selection of which are on loan to the Jewelry Gallery of the V & A – was an integral part of London social life in the interwar period, ably captured in Anne de Courcy’s full length biography, Society’s Queen: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE.

Active in the early days of the suffragist movement, Edith was a significant scholar and authoress in her own right and has been called “the greatest lady plantsman of the early twentieth century.”  She was passionate about fine jewelry, researching and documenting the Londonderry jewels from the Down Diamonds, the Golconda Stomacher, the Turquoise parure, the Siberian Emeralds and the Russian Amethysts, the Bonaparte-Murat pearls as well as the Antrim Rubies while patronizing the finest jewelers in London and Paris. For those who remember her reputation as a charming and generous hostess, her love of fine jewelry will always be a part of her image.


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