Happy Saint Valentine’s everyone! For this occasion, we could share with you a list of gift ideas, or inspire some ‘how to celebrate this date in Covid times’. Instead, we have decided to tell you about three precious gifts with sentimental stories behind them.
To the Moon and back
These Apollo earrings were given as a present by Aristotle Onassis to his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to celebrate both the Moon landing and her 40th birthday.
These bold golden earrings decorated with rubies were commissioned to Ilias Lalaounis – an important Greek jeweler who made his fame with antiquity oriented style and techniques. Nobody would ever expect this kind of futuristic piece from Lalaounis, but he made this exception for Aristotle, who had been a collector of the jewelers’ pieces for years. This fact in combination with the occasion and the personality of the owner made the one-of-a-kind Apollo earrings iconic. Besides that, the earrings can be seen as a tribute to Jackie’s ex-husband as he was the one who launched the USA space campaign in 1961 but had been killed 6 years before the successful Apollo moon landing.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, the jewelry house recreated a limited number of Apollo earrings – based on those which Jackie received, but with diamonds instead of rubies.
A gift from an enamored Tsar
It was enough for Russian Tsar Alexander I to see a portrait of Lady Frances Anne Vane to have a little crush on her. Unfortunately for him, there was one serious obstacle– the Lady was married to the Marquess of Londonderry. Even if the romance ended before it started, Alexander I was so charmed that allowed himself to give her a present. 14 Siberian amethysts – the finest amethysts – each one almost the size of a chicken egg. Lady Ann respectfully accepted the gift, not the Tsar’s feelings though.
This set of amethysts, known as the Londonderry Amethysts, were mounted in several pieces and were worn by Lady Ann. You can see her wearing a stomacher with those Siberian gems on the portrait.
All the pieces are now on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The last piece
This story has no dates and names, except for René Lalique.
There were husband and wife, and they were art collectors. He came up with a nice tradition: every time he acquired a painting, he would also purchase a piece of jewelry for his wife. She wasn’t really into jewelry, yet being those valuable pieces, they became part of their collection.
Once the husband passed away. In a couple of days, the phone rang. It was one of the dealers he used to buy pieces for the collection from. “What should we do with the brooch?” – he asked. Nobody knew anything about the brooch. It turned out that not long before he had bought that piece for his wife, but hadn’t made it in time to give it to her.
The brooch was by René Lalique, and represented a hawthorn twig with a text engraved: “Je Refleureray”. I will blossom again.