The Spencer Family is one of the oldest aristocratic families in England, able to trace their history back to the Norman Conquest of 1066. As such, they still retain several pieces of exquisite jewellery with fascinating provenance.
The story of this necklace begins in 1613 when Elizabeth Stuart, the only daughter of King James I of England and VI of Scotland, married Frederick of the Palatinate (later King of Bohemia). As a wedding present, she was gifted three Pearl pendants by the City of London. These Pearls were eventually to be inherited by her son, the famous Cavalier Prince Rupert and later sold by his daughter, Ruperta Hughes.
Ruperta sold the royal Pearls to the formidable Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (recently made famous in the Oscar winning film ‘The Favourite’)
In 1726, Sarah purchased two diamond pendants from the Duchess of Shrewsbury’s collection. Together with the Pearls, she merged them with a diamond necklace given to her by Queen Anne.
After her death in 1744, the necklace was inherited by her grandson, John, 1st Earl Spencer
The necklace has been passed down through the Earls Spencer over the centuries and was first photographed on Charlotte, Countess Spencer in the late 1800’s.
At some point, the Diamond Pendants were converted into earrings, worn here by Princess Diana’s flamboyant stepmother, Raine Spencer along with the original diamond riviere
Princess Diana appears to have worn the necklace in public only once. She was pictured in the late 80’s wearing the diamond riviere with a single Pearl pendant
It is still very much in use today and the current Countess Spencer, Karen frequently wears several elements from the original necklace.
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