Victoria Martinez's Blog

July 6, 2011

In honor of the publication of my second book, The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, I thought I would share an excerpt from a chapter that addresses one of the most ridiculous rumors ever perpetuated about The Duchess of Windsor: that she was a hermaphrodite. The chapter is titled, "Not a Woman at All."



It amazes me that despite all the excellent historical research and scholarship we have access to today, the Duchess of Windsor is still almost overwhelmingly vilified as the ugly American divorcée whose selfish desire to be queen consort led to the downfall of a promising British king.


Perhaps if Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, had the public relations and image consultants at her disposal like her modern counterpart, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, history – and the Royal Family – might have served her better. Instead, almost everything negative said of Wallis since 1936 still comprises the general opinion of her today.


Accusations such as the one that Wallis was a Nazi sympathizer are quite complex and important to address, especially as we look back with a more complete understanding of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Conversely, issues like Wallis' appearance seem so trivial that they would be regarded as merely a matter of opinion and, therefore, beneath the interest of serious biographers.


But nothing about the Duchess of Windsor could ever be that easy.


Vitriolic comments about her appearance have been bantered about ever since her name first appeared in the international press with that of the then Prince of Wales. And while there were plenty of reporters willing to call her "beautiful" when it seemed the relationship was just another of the Prince-cum-King's romantic liaisons, as soon as she appeared to be a threat to the monarchy, the comments became ruthless.


History served her even worse, as biographers scrambled to surpass one another with increasingly unflattering descriptions of her. Today, despite photographic evidence that allows individuals to devise their own opinions, certain authors still try to further their book sales by describing her as: "a woman whose face resembled the metal part of a garden shovel and her body the wooden handle."


Comments like this leave little doubt that the matter of her appearance has digressed into the extreme. And what's the most extreme that could be said of a woman? That she is not a "real" woman at all, but a hermaphrodite.


In 1981, the posthumously-published diaries of James Pope-Hennessy, biographer of the venerable Queen Mary, included the following comment about the Duchess of Windsor:"I should therefore be tempted to classify her simply as An American Woman par excellence, were it not for the suspicion that she is not a woman at all."


There are very few ways to interpret this comment, and it wasn't the first time the idea that the former Wallis Simpson was "not a woman at all" had been mentioned. And though Pope-Hennessy's comment initially went somewhat unnoticed by the population at large, it wasn't long before biographers of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor got on board and began introducing their own interpretations.


To read the rest of "Not a Woman At All," download a copy of The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders at the links below (you don't even need an e-reader since both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free).


-Tori


The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Victoria Martínez can be purchased through the following links:


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058W5QLI/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-royal-we-unique-glimpses-of-the-duke-and-duchess-of-windsor-victoria-martinez/1104099132

Who Dares Wins Publishing: https://whodareswinspublishing.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=132




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Published on July 06, 2011 11:49 • 68 views

May 12, 2011

The following is an excerpt from my new eBook, "An Unusual Journey Through Royal History," which features 18 essays on a variety of royal history-related subjects spanning a thousand years.


These are the first few paragraphs of the chapter entitled The Monarchy, Sewers and Modernization. Enjoy!


It may be slightly surprising to see the words "monarchy" and "sewer" appear together in the same sentence, but the two have actually shared a very close connection for quite some time. This is due largely, but not entirely, to the historically close proximity of the strongholds of the British monarchy to the River Thames, which, up until about 140 years ago, was London's biggest sewer. More tangentially, both the British monarchy and London's sewers owe their current form to the Victorian Era and both have, for some time, been in need of modernization.


The reign of Queen Victoria presided over not only a period of major industrial development, technological advancement and enlightened thinking, but also of major improvements and modernization to the monarchy. By the time of the Great Stink in 1858, when the smell from rotting sewage in the Thames was so bad that Parliament had to be abandoned, the monarchy had evolved from a rather disrespected, if not entirely dissolute, institution to a progressive and meaningful symbol of government and family values.


As the monarchy advanced into a more modern institution, a forward-thinking man named Joseph Bazalgette was tasked with doing the same for London's foul and deadly sewage system – creating an incredibly modern and revolutionary design that transformed the Thames from a cesspit into a free-flowing river and London from a deathtrap to a modern European city.


But, once again, the fates of both the monarchy and the sewers are intertwined. Somehow, once both the monarchy and the sewers were updated to sufficiently accommodate the modern era, they just stopped growing. Sewers that were built to accommodate 2,000,000 people are now expected to serve more than 60,000,000, and a monarchy that was well-suited for the Victorian mentality has continued on in much the same way ever since.


To read the rest of The Monarchy, Sewers and Modernization, download a copy of "An Unusual Journey Through Royal History, available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders at the links below (you don't even need an e-reader since both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free).


-Tori


"An Unusual Journey Through Royal History" by Victoria Martínez can be purchased through the following links:


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X7LYPQ

Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307

Who Dares Wins Publishing: http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/UnusualHistory.html




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Published on May 12, 2011 14:35 • 48 views

April 26, 2011

I often wonder what it is that makes me feel so connected to and fascinated with history. It seems to me to be innate, something I was just born with. I suppose if I wanted to be very romantic about it I could say that it's because it is said my family is descended from King Louis XI of France and that we have other royal and aristocrat connections besides. 


Perhaps, but I think it really just boils down to the richness of history, something I personally feel is lacking in our computerized and somewhat impersonal modern world. I've always loved escaping into history, whether through traveling, reading, researching or writing. I think of it as a journey of the imagination I can take whenever I want, and I'm always happiest in the world of history.


Not the kind of history you learn in school, mind you. The forced memorization of dates and battles too easily kills the imagination – never mind the interest – of many a young mind, and turns many people off to history even into adulthood. That's where I like to come in and try to change people's perceptions of history.


It's important to me not only that people stop thinking of history as just a boring memorization task or something for scholars, but also that they see beyond the most popular and over-hyped people and aspects of history. My favorite subjects to research and write about are the ones that have been overlooked or ignored.


For years I've been writing columns, articles and blogs about just such historical subjects, and a good majority of this material has been focused on royal history. Earlier this year, I had the good fortune of meeting a publisher who expressed interest in these works and offered to publish them as compilations in eBook and book format.


So, here I sit on vacation in what I consider my second home, London, eagerly awaiting the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, just as the first of these books has been published. Double joy for me!


My first compilation is an eBook called "An Unusual Journey Through Royal History," which is comprised of 18 articles I've written over the years on subjects like royal tattoos, court dwarfs, circumcision and – my personal favorite – the difficulties of marrying off a 200-pound Victorian princess. 


The book has something for everyone and is essentially light reading, although readers will find that they are well-researched and even – as one reviewer wrote – "essentially scholarly in nature," though never pedantic.


Although the book is available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders, anyone with a computer can read the book as both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free. I've provided the links below, and I hope you'll spend the $2.99 to take this unusual journey with me. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting some excerpts and teasers from the book in case you need more convincing. 


-Tori


"An Unusual Journey Through Royal History" by Victoria Martínez can be purchased through the following links:


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X7LYPQ

Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307

Who Dares Wins Publishing: http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/UnusualHistory.html




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Published on April 26, 2011 09:39 • 54 views

November 18, 2010

I realize it makes for a good story, but the American news media are making too much of a fuss about Prince William of Wales becoming engaged to the “commoner” Kate Middleton. It’s not the reporting of the story that bothers me (that is to be expected in a country that is fascinated with British royalty), but rather the seemingly short memory of the media and their general lack of knowledge of both near and distant royal history.


Kate is not by a long shot the first commoner to marry an heir to the throne, or even a king, in Britain. She is also just one of many commoners who have made upwardly mobile matches to royalty around the world.


Starting in Britain, Lady Diana Spencer – who was, as everyone is well aware, Prince William’s mother – was a commoner. Yes, she was the daughter of an earl, but she was a commoner nonetheless. Although she did not become queen consort, another commoner in recent history did: the mother of Queen Elizabeth II was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon before she married The Duke of York, who later became King George VI. Better known to today’s generation as the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, she was – like Diana – the daughter of an earl. And for heaven’s sake, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales’ second wife, is a commoner who never even held any aristocratic titles before her marriage to Prince Charles! The bottom line here is that if you’re not royal by birth, you are a commoner, even if you are the child of a titled aristocrat.


Further back in history, it’s not hard to find at least a dozen other commoners who married monarchs or their heirs in the British Isles. King Henry VIII of England married four: Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Although Anne Boleyn is often mistakenly identified as the first commoner to become queen of England in 1533, that achievement was actually made 68 years earlier when Elizabeth Woodville married King Edward IV of England. Mary, Queen of Scots, married as her second husband Lord Darnley, an English subject. In fact, the early history of the Scottish Crown is littered with kings marrying commoners, and even the illegitimate daughters of other kings.


Perhaps the most controversial of these royal-commoner unions in Britain occurred in 1660 when James, Duke of York (the younger brother of King Charles II) married his pregnant mistress, Anne Hyde. Unlike other commoner wives before her, Anne didn’t even have an aristocratic background. Her father was chief minister to King Charles, but held no title until after his daughter married The Duke of York. Although Anne’s early death precluded her from becoming queen when The Duke of York succeeded his brother in 1685 as King James II, both of her daughters became queens in their own right. The eldest became Queen Mary II in 1689, ruling over England, Scotland and Ireland until her death in 1694. The younger, Anne, succeeded her elder sister in 1702.


This is by no means an exhaustive account of all the commoners who have married into Britain’s royal families, but it makes the point. It also leaves some room to discuss the plethora of other royals married to commoners outside of Britain.


The most recent of these royal-commoner unions is also the product of one of the more progressive royal houses in Europe: Sweden. While the American media applaud the British monarchy for its “modernity,” they are completely ignoring the fact that Sweden, unlike Britain, has something called equal primogeniture. Simply put, in Sweden, the eldest child of the monarch – male or female – is next in line to the throne. In Britain, on the other hand, males take precedence over their female siblings in the line of succession, even if they are younger. As the eldest child of the current king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, and his wife (who was, at one point, a flight attendant prior to her marriage), Crown Princess Victoria will succeed her father as monarch, even though she has a (younger) brother. This past June, Victoria married a commoner, Daniel Westling, who owned the gym where Victoria regularly exercised. He is now a Prince. In Britain, the best a commoner husband of a royal wife (other than the queen) can hope to become is an earl.


Sweden is not alone in its openness to commoners as royal spouses, as the following list attests:



Japan: Emperor Akihito of Japan, while still Crown Prince, married commoner Michiko Shōda in 1959 (the first to do so in 1,500 years). Their son and heir, Crown Prince Naruhito, followed suit in 1993 when he married Masako Owada.
Jordan: The late King Hussein of Jordan married American Lisa Halaby in 1978. King Hussein’s successor, King Abdullah II of Jordan, married Palestinian commoner Rania Al Abdullah in 1993.
Norway: Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, heir to his father, King Harald V, made a controversial marriage to commoner (and single mother) Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby in 2001. It seems Mette-Marit had been something of a party girl in Norway, and the father of her son had been convicted on drug charges. The marriage was accepted by the royal family, the government, and the people of Norway.
The Netherlands: Heir-to-the-throne Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, also caused some controversy when he married Argentine commoner Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002. Máxima’s father had served in the government of former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, under whose regime tens of thousands of people “disappeared.” Her father did not attend the wedding.
Denmark: On May 14, 2004, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark married Australian Mary Donaldson. Nine years earlier, his younger brother, Prince Joachim, married commoner Alexandra Manley of Hong Kong, whom he divorced in 2005. Two years later, Joachim married another commoner, this time a French woman named Marie Cavallier.
Spain: Felipe, Prince of Asturias – heir to the Spanish throne – married Spanish journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2004.
Monaco: Prince Albert II of Monaco is currently engaged to South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. Of course, the Prince’s mother was Grace Kelly, who famously married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.

With such a preponderance of commoner princesses and queens (and at least one prince) in Britain and the rest of the world, I find it incredibly difficult to fathom why the American media are making such a fuss about Kate Middleton. Is it because it makes a more sensational news story to ignore reality? Or perhaps they just don’t care to do the research, even if it just means scratching the surface as I’ve done here? Maybe they just have an incredibly short memory of, or interest in, history?


Whatever the case, I doubt we will hear much, if anything, of these other fascinating elements of history as long as the quick and easy – but eminently hollow – catchword dictates the scope of the American news.


Oh, and one more thing… contrary to what the American media are reporting, Kate Middleton will NOT be known as “Princess Kate,” just as Diana was never really “Princess Diana” (that was merely a colloquialism). Following British custom, on her marriage, Kate will take the name of her husband, i.e. “Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales.” Of course, it is also custom for a British royal prince to receive a dukedom upon marriage. So, if, for example, Prince William is given the title Duke of Clarence, Kate will be known as “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Clarence.” But I’m sure the American media will call her “Princess Kate” no matter what British custom decrees.


-Tori




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Published on November 18, 2010 23:47 • 32 views

I realize it makes for a good story, but the American news media are making too much of a fuss about Prince William of Wales becoming engaged to the "commoner" Kate Middleton. It's not the reporting of the story that bothers me (that is to be expected in a country that is fascinated with British royalty), but rather the seemingly short memory of the media and their general lack of knowledge of both near and distant royal history.


Kate is not by a long shot the first commoner to marry an heir to the throne, or even a king, in Britain. She is also just one of many commoners who have made upwardly mobile matches to royalty around the world.


Starting in Britain, Lady Diana Spencer – who was, as everyone is well aware, Prince William's mother – was a commoner. Yes, she was the daughter of an earl, but she was a commoner nonetheless. Although she did not become queen consort, another commoner in recent history did: the mother of Queen Elizabeth II was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon before she married The Duke of York, who later became King George VI. Better known to today's generation as the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, she was – like Diana – the daughter of an earl. And for heaven's sake, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales' second wife, is a commoner who never even held any aristocratic titles before her marriage to Prince Charles! The bottom line here is that if you're not royal by birth, you are a commoner, even if you are the child of a titled aristocrat.


Further back in history, it's not hard to find at least a dozen other commoners who married monarchs or their heirs in the British Isles. King Henry VIII of England married four: Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Although Anne Boleyn is often mistakenly identified as the first commoner to become queen of England in 1533, that achievement was actually made 68 years earlier when Elizabeth Woodville married King Edward IV of England. Mary, Queen of Scots, married as her second husband Lord Darnley, an English subject. In fact, the early history of the Scottish Crown is littered with kings marrying commoners, and even the illegitimate daughters of other kings.


Perhaps the most controversial of these royal-commoner unions in Britain occurred in 1660 when James, Duke of York (the younger brother of King Charles II) married his pregnant mistress, Anne Hyde. Unlike other commoner wives before her, Anne didn't even have an aristocratic background. Her father was chief minister to King Charles, but held no title until after his daughter married The Duke of York. Although Anne's early death precluded her from becoming queen when The Duke of York succeeded his brother in 1685 as King James II, both of her daughters became queens in their own right. The eldest became Queen Mary II in 1689, ruling over England, Scotland and Ireland until her death in 1694. The younger, Anne, succeeded her elder sister in 1702.


This is by no means an exhaustive account of all the commoners who have married into Britain's royal families, but it makes the point. It also leaves some room to discuss the plethora of other royals married to commoners outside of Britain.


The most recent of these royal-commoner unions is also the product of one of the more progressive royal houses in Europe: Sweden. While the American media applaud the British monarchy for its "modernity," they are completely ignoring the fact that Sweden, unlike Britain, has something called equal primogeniture. Simply put, in Sweden, the eldest child of the monarch – male or female – is next in line to the throne. In Britain, on the other hand, males take precedence over their female siblings in the line of succession, even if they are younger. As the eldest child of the current king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, and his wife (who was, at one point, a flight attendant prior to her marriage), Crown Princess Victoria will succeed her father as monarch, even though she has a (younger) brother. This past June, Victoria married a commoner, Daniel Westling, who owned the gym where Victoria regularly exercised. He is now a Prince. In Britain, the best a commoner husband of a royal wife (other than the queen) can hope to become is an earl.


Sweden is not alone in its openness to commoners as royal spouses, as the following list attests:



Japan: Emperor Akihito of Japan, while still Crown Prince, married commoner Michiko Shōda in 1959 (the first to do so in 1,500 years). Their son and heir, Crown Prince Naruhito, followed suit in 1993 when he married Masako Owada.
Jordan: The late King Hussein of Jordan married American Lisa Halaby in 1978. King Hussein's successor, King Abdullah II of Jordan, married Palestinian commoner Rania Al Abdullah in 1993.
Norway: Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, heir to his father, King Harald V, made a controversial marriage to commoner (and single mother) Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby in 2001. It seems Mette-Marit had been something of a party girl in Norway, and the father of her son had been convicted on drug charges. The marriage was accepted by the royal family, the government, and the people of Norway.
The Netherlands: Heir-to-the-throne Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, also caused some controversy when he married Argentine commoner Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002. Máxima's father had served in the government of former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, under whose regime tens of thousands of people "disappeared." Her father did not attend the wedding.
Denmark: On May 14, 2004, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark married Australian Mary Donaldson. Nine years earlier, his younger brother, Prince Joachim, married commoner Alexandra Manley of Hong Kong, whom he divorced in 2005. Two years later, Joachim married another commoner, this time a French woman named Marie Cavallier.
Spain: Felipe, Prince of Asturias – heir to the Spanish throne – married Spanish journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2004.
Monaco: Prince Albert II of Monaco is currently engaged to South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. Of course, the Prince's mother was Grace Kelly, who famously married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.

With such a preponderance of commoner princesses and queens (and at least one prince) in Britain and the rest of the world, I find it incredibly difficult to fathom why the American media are making such a fuss about Kate Middleton. Is it because it makes a more sensational news story to ignore reality? Or perhaps they just don't care to do the research, even if it just means scratching the surface as I've done here? Maybe they just have an incredibly short memory of, or interest in, history?


Whatever the case, I doubt we will hear much, if anything, of these other fascinating elements of history as long as the quick and easy – but eminently hollow – catchword dictates the scope of the American news.


Oh, and one more thing… contrary to what the American media are reporting, Kate Middleton will NOT be known as "Princess Kate," just as Diana was never really "Princess Diana" (that was merely a colloquialism). Following British custom, on her marriage, Kate will take the name of her husband, i.e. "Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales." Of course, it is also custom for a British royal prince to receive a dukedom upon marriage. So, if, for example, Prince William is given the title Duke of Clarence, Kate will be known as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Clarence." But I'm sure the American media will call her "Princess Kate" no matter what British custom decrees.


-Tori




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Published on November 18, 2010 23:47 • 158 views

November 6, 2010

Last fall, after a lifetime of waiting, I finally had the opportunity to see the historic and notorious Hope diamond up close at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. A few days later, it was taken off display in preparation for resetting in honor of its 50th anniversary at the museum. I was grateful I hadn't missed seeing it, and was certainly not disappointed by its stunning natural and man-made beauty.



As an avid follower of historic and important jewels, I was blown away by the gem collection held by the Smithsonian. So I was excited to hear that only a year after my own "historic" visit to see the Hope diamond, the Smithsonian added a new and highly important piece to their collection. Now I'm busy thinking of every possible excuse to get back to D.C. to have a personal look at the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace.



Photo by Chip Clark

The new acquisition is a 100-year-old jewel that is currently on display just a few feet away from the Hope diamond. Although it features a "mere" 5.32 combined carats of rare blue diamonds as compared to the gigantic 45-carat blue Hope diamond, the necklace is managing to more than hold its own. It's even being touted by the Smithsonian as "one of the greatest gifts the museum has received."


Aside from the intrinsic value of the rare blue diamonds and over 200 other colorless diamonds, the magic of this necklace seems to be rooted in sentiment, history, and a good story. Several good stories, actually… all of which weave together as artfully as the lacy bow design of the necklace itself.



It all starts with a South African explorer and prospector who purchased a diamond mine in the Transvaal Colony in 1902 hoping to make a fortune. Although his prior prospecting had been mostly unsuccessful, it's reported that he promised his wife that in his new venture he would find her the largest diamond in the world.



In 1905, it seemed his promise would be fulfilled when a perfectly clear and colorless 3,106-carat rough diamond was discovered in his mine (it remains the largest rough, gem-quality diamond ever found). But although the historical find was named after him, Thomas Cullinan did not give the stone to his wife. Instead, he sold it to the Transvaal government for £150,000 (roughly equivalent to more than £12,750,000/$20,642,000 today), and insured for 10 times that amount.



The gigantic rough stone was carefully cleaved into nine primary stones, as well as a multitude of smaller stones, altogether amounting to a total of 1,063 carats, with the remainder lost to the cutting process. Like the Hope diamond with its connections to the French royal family, the Cullinan diamond was destined to become closely associated with royalty. By 1910, the nine primary stones cut from the rough stone had been either gifted to or purchased by the British royal family, and Thomas Cullinan had been knighted by the British government.



While the Hope diamond is said to have brought misfortune to anyone who ever owned it (most notoriously, the ill-fated King Louis XVI of France and his consort, Marie Antoinette), the British royals have had no such trouble with the Cullinan diamonds. The two largest pieces, the 530.2-carat Greater Star of Africa (also known as the Cullinan I) and the 317.4-carat Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II), are set in the Royal Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown, respectively. Both have been used in the British royal coronation ceremonies since 1911 and are on display at the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The other seven pieces – ranging in size from 94.4 carats down to 4.4 carats are set in various pieces of jewelry that are worn to this day by Queen Elizabeth II.



Photo by Chip Clark

Sir Thomas' important discovery may have brought him fame, bore his name, and graced crowned heads, but he still had not fulfilled his promise to his wife Annie. So either as consolation for this transgression or to celebrate his knighthood (or both), in 1910 he commissioned for her a necklace of nine blue diamonds representing the nine diamonds cut from the original Cullinan stone. The largest of these is a 2.6-carat fancy blue diamond – a respectable size for the very rare colored stone. A total of 5.32 carats of blue diamonds are accented by 243 colorless diamonds – 30-carats of diamonds in all – set in relatively humble silver. Typical to Edwardian practicality, the main part of the necklace – a double-ribbon bow with the largest blue diamond hanging as a pendant – can be detached from the chain and worn as a brooch.


This beautiful jewel, with its signature graceful Edwardian style, was passed down through the descendants of Sir Thomas and his wife through the first daughter of each generation until their great-granddaughter sold it to California jeweler Stephen Silver in 1992. This year, Silver donated the necklace to the National Gem Collection and it officially went on exhibit in the Harry Winston Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. on September 27. It won't remain next to its larger cousin, the Hope diamond, for long, however. In the spring of 2011, the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace will make its permanent home in the National Gem Gallery.



Even without a royal provenance, record size or notorious past, the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace has managed to make its way into the pages of history as a significant and important piece of jewelry on level with the Hope and Cullinan diamonds. To me, it proves that sentiment, symbolism and timeless elegance count as much – if not more – in jewelry as celebrity, carat size and ostentation.



-Tori



**************



For more information on the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace, I recommend the following links:



Smithsonian Science: Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Gem Gallery – Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace.



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Published on November 06, 2010 00:37 • 46 views

August 25, 2010

How about this for arbitrary history?


I am a huge fan of the AMC TV series Mad Men, and when I found out that Banana Republic and AMC were doing a "Mad Men Casting Call" contest, I had to jump all over it.


As a history buff, my interests in research and writing generally go further back than the 1960s; but, on the other hand, since the 1960s was my parents' generation, and it was also an extremely important time in myriad ways, I do have a more than passing fascination with it.


I also love nothing more than dressing up and posing for photos in historical costumes. I have pictures of myself dressed in a costume from just about every decade of the last 150 years.


So, naturally, when my hairstylist had some fun with my hair the other day and made me up in a true 60s 'do, I rushed home to change into my 60′s dress and vintage jewelry, and glob on the green eyeshadow and fake eyelashes. With the appearance taken care of, all that was left was some good photography, and for that I had to look no further than my multi-talented husband, who took about 80 fabulous photos.


We were so excited with the results, that I uploaded my submission last night, and am now officially entered into the contest to win a "walk-on" appearance in an episode of next season's Mad Men.


I hope you'll take a look at my submission and submit your vote for me at: http://madmencastingcall.amctv.com/browse/detail/8ETV2M. Each person can vote on it once a day until Sept. 17th, so vote early and vote often.


Thanks for your support!


-Tori




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Published on August 25, 2010 14:24 • 42 views