Countess of Rosse’s Emerald Earrings

A spectacular Aristocratic Heirloom, which was once worn by the mother-in-law of Princess Margaret, is on sale at Hancocks in London. The versatile Diamond and Emerald Dragonfly Brooch, which is being offered for sale, contains the splendid Earrings of the spectacular Rosse Emerald Parure. 

A magnificent antique Diamond and Emerald Dragonfly Brooch by Garrard & Co., circa 1911, this piece was designed by Sir Cecil Lister Kaye for his daughter, the Countess of Rosse and used detachable emerald briolette drops from the Rosse Emerald Parure. The note pinned inside the box reads;

This brooch was made out of the earrings of the antique emerald and diamond parure of the Rosse family – by Lois Lady Rosse for the 1911 Coronation and also some extra diamonds were added in. (Designed by her father Sir Cecil Lister Kaye) To be entailed with the family emeralds.”

While the 5th Countess of Rosse was not photographed wearing the Emerald Earrings or the Dragonfly Brooch, they became favourites of her daughter-in-law, Anne, the 6th Countess of Rosse who was the mother of LS. The Countess wore the emerald briolette drops set in a pair of elaborate late 19th century Earrings, composed as an openwork foliate cartouche set with old brilliant-cut and cushion-shaped diamonds.

The most notable appearances of the Emerald Earrings came with the Rosse Emerald Tiara and Parure at the magnificent Coronation of King George VI in 1937 and also the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. 

In 1965, the Countess wore the Emerald and Diamond Dragonfly Brooch for the Wedding of her youngest son, Hon. Desmond Oliver Martin Parsons, and Aline Edwina Macdonald at St Michael’s Church in Chester Square.

In the 1980s, white the Earrings and Dragonfly Brooch remained with the family, the Rosse Emerald Tiara and the Emerald Necklace were sold separately at auction at Christies. Their current location is unknown. 

However, the elaborate Emerald and Diamond Earrings remained with the Family until 2020, when an altered version of the earrings, featuring briolette-cut amethyst drops instead of the emeralds were auctioned at Bonhams in London for £5,737.50.

The Dragonfly Brooch which contained the original emeralds was also retained by the Earls of Rosse, who initially offered it for sale at Bonhams in 2016 before it was withdrawn. Now, the Emerald and Diamond Dragonfly Brooch is on sale at Hancocks in London, with a price of £350,000. The notes read:

This wonderful jewel was made by the Crown Jewellers Garrard & Co. for Frances, 5th Countess of Rosse to wear to the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

A coronation is a state occasion steeped in history and tradition and the jewels worn by the Peeresses to accompany their formal coronation robes reflect this. Parures of historic family jewels passed down through generations were de rigeur, topped off with the most important tiara each Peeress owned. To have a new jewel commissioned, particularly one of this size and design was likely unusual and would certainly have made a significant impact. The rich green emeralds no doubt proved a vibrant contrast to the deep red of the coronation robes and complimented the emerald necklace and tiara that Frances wore with it.

The dragonfly brooch is a truly spectacular jewel and would have attracted many an admiring glance, the tremblant setting causing it to flutter and catch the light with every movement she made. The countess had given Garrard a pair of Colombian emerald briolette drops to use which she had taken from a pair of earrings that were part of the Rosse family emerald parure. The clever design her father had devised meant that these beautiful drops, estimated to weigh approximately 25cts between them, could be detached from their place in the upper wings and put back into their original earrings.

In due course, the dragonfly brooch passed from Frances to her daughter-in-law Anne, 6th Countess of Rosse. The brooch was a favourite jewel of Anne’s and she wore it regularly. Images of her wearing the dragonfly show it on evening dresses, cocktail dresses and coats, this was a woman with a passion for both jewellery and fashion. It is thanks to her that we know the details regarding the commissioning of this piece. Her handwritten note on the provenance of this unique jewel remains pinned inside the box in which the dragonfly rests.


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