Following detailed research and negotiations by the Pall Mall jewellery dealership, the royal jewel has been sold to a private collector and secured on loan for display in the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Here it has been reunited with the sapphire and diamond coronet designed by Prince Albert and made by Joseph Kitching, partner at Kitching and Abud in 1840, which at $6.5m was saved from export and donated to the V&A in 2017. The price paid for the bracelet has not been disclosed.
The tiara and bracelet once formed part of a suite of diamond and sapphire royal jewels that (as personal rather than crown jewels) passed by descent to the family of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. They were last on public display at the Dorchester Hotel in 1953 when, loaned by Mary for a brief exhibition, they were shown together with a matching necklace, its current whereabouts unknown following its sale by auction in the 1970s.
The dealership believes the bracelet, dated to c.1840-50 may also be by Kitching, with the stones probably from the same parcel of Sri Lankan sapphires given to Victoria by William IV and Queen Adelaide that were used in the tiara.
The sapphires weigh 16 carats in total.
Robert Leigh-Pemberton from the dealership told ATG: “We haven’t yet managed to find any absolute proof of Prince Albert’s involvement in the design (as is the case with the tiara), but we know what an active role and interest he had in all Victoria’s jewellery.
“The matching style, the quality and nature of the manufacture and the stones themselves do hint at it.”
Last year the firm added to the display of French crown jewels in the Louvre’s Galerie d’Apollon with the sale of a ruby and diamond brooch that was once the property of Marie Antoinette’s daughter and made up from a suite of jewels made by Napoleon for his second wife.
Former Christie’s specialist Humphrey Butler told ATG: “We have been established as independent dealers for 21 years and in that time have placed a number of pieces into national collections.
“I am thrilled to be marking the start of our third decade in business with the reappearance of this bracelet in the V&A which, given it was one of Queen Victoria’s own treasured possessions, seems the ideal home.”