Last night Queen Margrethe wore her diamond and pearl tiara during the state banquet hosted for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. The tiara is her obvious choice for such an event, since it was the wedding gift of King Frederick William III of Prussia to his daughter Princess Louise when she married Prince Frederik of the Netherlands, younger son of King William I in 1825. Erik Schoonhoven discovered the name of the likely maker of this important tiara, and thus also of the accompany-ing brooch, visible on the fur neckline of the Queen.
Despite the Prussian-Dutch provenance, the tiara is referred to as ‘the Bernadotte pearls’ by the Danish royal family. This is because Louise and Frederik’s daughter Princess Louise of the Netherlands, married the future King Carl XV of Sweden. Through their daughter Lovisa, who became Queen of Denmark as wife of King Frederik VIII, the tiara ended up in in the Danish royal collection. Margrethe wears the pearls as well when she receives the Swedish royals, and on many other occasions, since it is one of her most important pieces of jewellery. It is – for jewellery standards – very old and it contains important large natural pearls. It is a fine example of Empire jewellery.
Not much is known about the tiara, such as the jeweller who provided it to the Prussian King. But in a Dutch newspaper, published on May 17, I found a report on the wedding gifts to Princess Louise of Prussia in 1825, which includes the name of the likely maker. It reads:
Berlin, May 3.
At the court, preparations are on-going for the festivities that will be held for the wedding of Princess Louise with Prince Frederik of the Netherlands. The dowry and the precious garments of the Princess-bride, are ready; amongst which one especially admires a rich diamond crown, made with great taste by the First Jeweller to the Court, the local Brothers Jordan.
In the 19th century, especially in the earlier part, the press would often refer to a tiara as a crown. In addition, the shape of the tiara is almost closed, which resembles the shape of a crown. But the description doesn’t say ‘diamonds and pearls’. Unlike in these days, in which we like to report on every aspect of royal jewellery, descriptions of jewellery, especially in the press, tended to be a bit ‘sloppy’. Also, no other important tiara of Princess Louise is known, for example through portraits. And even if this description does not refer to Queen Margrethe’s tiara, it is likely the Prussian King ordered it at the Brothers Jordan as well.
The Jordan family
Now who were the Brothers Jordan, First Jeweller to the Court? The Jordan family is of French-Huguenot descent. Best remembered is the intellectual Charles-Etienne, advisor to Frederick the Great and author on literature and history. Already then the Jordans were purveyors to the court, mainly for snuffboxes. Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom, born Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and wife of King George III, in 1761 paid, in Neu-Strelitz, 500 ducats to Les Frères Jordan for a ’tabatière d’or emeillé peintre à Brilliants’. In 1786, the Gebrüder Jordan were located at the Jägerbrücke.
On March 24, Koller Auctions in Zürich will sell this yellow and pink gold and enamel miniature snuffbox from les Frères Jordan. The oval box with walls and borders decorated with acanthus and laurel leaves, has a miniature on the cover depicting a courtly park scene, on paper. The base is engraved with a fighting scene between a fox and 2 ducks. Maker’s mark “FJ” for Frères Jordan, Berlin 1770-1820, French import marks later. Ca. 9,3 x 6,4 x 2,5 cm, 152 gram. Estimate: CHF 2.000/3.000.
In 1813, les Frères Jordan had their shop at Rue des Chasseurs no. 32 in Berlin, according to a French guide. André (1708-1778) was court jeweller to the King of Prussia, as were his sons Pierre (1737-1791) and André (1732-1807). André’s son Pierre Jean (1761-1838) seems to be the Jordan in charge of the company when the King placed his order for Princess Louise’s tiara. He was co-founder of the Berliner Singakademie. The Jordan offspring rose to prominence, with industrials and politicians. Unfortunately, not much is known about the production of the jewellers Jordan. Many archives were lost during World War II, including registers of the Prussian Kings.
Any information on the Brothers Jordan is welcome. Many thanks to Ursula Butschal of www.royal-magazin.de for providing me with information on the Jordan family. And to Elliott Humrich, for his help with the translation of the newspaper fragment.