Catherine the Great Emerald Necklace - Marquess of Lothian Emerald Necklace

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Origin of name

The "Marquess of Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace" created in the neo-classic style of the Napoleonic period like the "Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Necklace" and the "Empress Josephine Emerald and Diamond Necklace" (presently part of the Norwegian Emerald and Diamond Parure), had been a family heirloom of the Marquesses of Lothian of the Kerr family, since the necklace was bequeathed to John William Robert Kerr, the 7th Marquess of Lothian (1794-1841) by his aunt Amelia Hobart (Emily Hobart), the Viscountess Castlereagh and the Marchioness of Londonderry, who was childless.

Amelia Hobart inherited the necklace from her mother Caroline Connolly who was the second wife of the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire Sir John Hobart, who was the ambassador of the United Kingdom in Russia from 1762-65, during the period of rule of Catherine the Great. Though the emerald and diamond necklace as it is at present, was actually put together by the 7th Marquess of Lothian, probably for the coronation of King William IV in 1831, using the services of the court jewelers, every generation of the Marquesses of Lothian had believed that the emeralds used in the necklace had actually been gifted by Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, when the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, Sir John Hobart was serving as the ambassador of the United Kingdom at St. Petersburg in the period 1762-65. It is for this reason that the "Marquess of Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace" is also sometimes referred to as the "Catherine the Great Emerald and Diamond Necklace."




Characteristics of the necklace

The center piece of the emerald and diamond necklace is a large octagonal step-cut domed emerald, surrounded by four linear triads of diamonds, situated on four sides of the octagonal emerald. Each triad consists of a single large round-shaped diamond in the center with two smaller round-shaped diamonds on either side. A large drop-shaped emerald hangs from the octagonal emerald as a pendant. The necklace itself consists of a row of alternating cushion-cut diamonds and square or rectangular step-cut emeralds. There are 14 cushion-cut diamonds and 13 square or rectangular step-cut emeralds in the necklace. The cushion-cut diamonds are set in silver collets, and the square or rectangular step-cut emeralds are set in gold collets. A single emerald on the rear of the necklace in line with the octagonal emerald center piece, is part of an emerald clasp for the necklace. Fourteen pear-shaped emeralds are attached as pendants to the fourteen cushion-shaped diamonds right round the necklace. All pear-shaped emeralds are attached directly to the cushion-shaped diamonds, except for two corresponding pairs on ether side of the central pendant. The first corresponding pair of pear-shaped emeralds have a triangular triad of small round-shaped diamonds, through which they are attached to the cushion-shaped diamonds. The second corresponding pair of pear-shaped emeralds are attached to the cushion-shaped diamonds through a single small round-shaped emerald.

This type of necklace with pendants all round was developed during the neo-classical period for the low neck dresses that became fashionable for the ladies of the royal court during the Napoleonic period. The popularity of such dresses for formal functions in royal circles, as well as high class societies, had never waned and remained high ever since, to this day.


Characteristics of the pair of earrings

The "Marquess of Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace" also has a pair of matching drop-shaped pendant earrings. Each pendant earring has a central large oval-shaped domed faceted emerald in the center, set in a gold collet and surrounded by small round-shaped diamonds, set in triangular-shaped collets of silver. The two pendant earrings perfectly match one another in all its features, and  are also a perfect match for the necklace surrounded by emerald pendants.


History of the emerald and diamond necklace

Source of the emeralds

If as it is claimed, the emeralds in the necklace were gifts from Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, in the late 18th century, the source of the emeralds was undoubtedly one of the prolific emerald mines of Colombia, such as the Somondoco (Chivor) mines or the Muzo mines. In all probability the source must have been the Muzo emerald mines, as these mines were in continuous production from 1594 to around 1750, when a disastrous fire halted production, and was not resumed until after independence in 1819. It is highly unlikely that the source could have been the Chivor mines, as production  period in these mines was from around 1540 to 1675. The Chivor mines were then closed down indefinitely by royal decree issued by King Charles II of Spain due to the brutal and cruel treatment of Indian workers in the mine. The Chivor mines were re-discovered and resumed production again only in 1911.

Is it possible that the source of the emeralds could have been the prolific emerald mines of the Ural Mountains in Russia itself ? This is highly unlikely, because, even though Pliny the Elder had mentioned Scythia in the Ural Mountains as an ancient source of high quality emeralds, in his book Natural History, finished in 79 A.D., in recent history emeralds were discovered in Russia only in the year 1831, when the Tokovaya emerald mines on the banks of the Tokovaya river, were discovered accidentally by a Russian peasant charcoal burner Maxim Stefanovitch Koshevnikov. This was several years after  Catherine the Great, who ruled from 1762 to 1796. Thus the emeralds in the "Marquess of Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace" are undoubtedly of Colombian origin.


John Hobart, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire

Earl of Buckinghamshire is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain, and was created in 1746 for John Hobart, the 1st Baron Hobart, who descended from Henry Hobart, who served as Attorney General and Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. On his death in 1756 John Hobart, the 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire was succeeded by his eldest son from his 1st marriage, John Hobart, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire. The 2nd Earl before assuming his title, was a Member of Parliament for Norwich from 1747-1756. In 1756 he was appointed to the office of the Comptroller of the Household, the second office under the Lord Steward. The office of the Comptroller controls the accounts and reckonings of the Green Cloth, of which board he is always a member. He carries a white staff, and is always one of the Privy Council. Between 1756 and 1762, he was appointed to the office of the Lord of the Bed Chamber, whose duties consisted of assisting the King with his dressing, waiting on him when he ate in private, guarding access to him in his bedchamber and closet, and providing companionship.

John Hobart-2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire

In 1762, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire was appointed as the ambassador of the United Kingdom to Russia, the same year the ambitious Catherine the Great ousted her husband Peter III, in a coup plotted by her lover Gregory Orlov, and ascended the throne as Empress of Russia. The relationship between Gregory Orlov and Catherine the Great lasted for 14 years from 1758 to 1772, and represents the longest relationship she ever had with a man during her lifetime. It is well known that Catherine the Great took many lovers during her life time, out of whom the names of twelve lovers are well documented. Gregory Orlov is placed 3rd on the list of lovers taken by Catherine the Great.

Sir John Hobart, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, married his first wife Mary Ann Drury, the daughter of Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Drury, on 14th July 1761, with a fortune of £50,000. Sir John Hobart accompanied by his wife, Lady Mary Ann Drury took up the appointment of Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Russia, and was based in the Capital St. Petersburg. He served as Ambassador for three years from 1762 to 1765, after which he was recalled back to London. As an ambassador of one of the powerful monarchies of Europe, Sir John Hobart and his wife Lady Hobart were held in high esteem by Catherine the Great, who gifted them with jewels and jewelry, that included emeralds and emerald-studded jewelry. All monarchies in Europe around this time had plentiful supplies of these glittering green gemstones, which reached their capitals in large quantities via Spain, the colonial master of Colombia, the main producing country of emeralds during this period. Thus, whatever gifts received by Sir John Hobart from Catherine the Great during his tenure of office, was a result of routine diplomatic courtesies extended to the Ambassador of a powerful nation. To suggest otherwise, given her amorous relationships with handsome young men, would be a distortion of historical facts. Moreover during this period she had a very close and passionate relationship with Count Gregory Orlov, that nearly resulted in their marriage.

On his return to England, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire resumed his duties as the Lord of the Bed Chamber,  and was subsequently appointed as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in which capacity he served from 1776-1780. His first wife Lady Drury, by whom he had three children, all girls, died on December 30, 1769, at the age of 29 years. In the year 1770 he married his second wife Caroline Conolly, daughter of Rt. Hon. William Conolly, by whom he had four children, a daughter and 3 sons, but only the daughter survived. The 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire died on August 3rd, 1793, and bequeathed his emeralds to his wife Caroline Conolly.


Lady Amelia Anne Hobart inherits the emeralds from Lady Caroline Conolly

When Lady Caroline Conolly died in January 1817, she bequeathed the emerald jewelry to her only surviving child Lady Amelia Anne Hobart. It is said that an inventory drawn up after her death lists an emerald necklace among other jewelry owned by her.

Lady Amelia Anne Hobart married Robert Stewart, the Viscount Castlereagh (later the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry) in 1794. The couple remained devoted to each other to the end, but they had no children. Viscount Castlereagh was an Anglo-Irish politician, who served in various capacities as Member of Parliament, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Leader of the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary and the chief representative of the United Kingdom at the Congress of Vienna, at which he proposed a form of collective and collaborative security for Europe which was known as the Congress System, the forerunner of the modern organizations such as the NATO, the EU, the League of Nations and the United Nations.


Viscount Castlereagh

Viscount Castlereagh

Viscount Castlereagh was highly respected for his diplomatic skills as Foreign Secretary, for forging the alliance between the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria and Prussia, that saw the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also responsible for promoting the career of the  Duke of Wellington, that hastened the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte. During his visits to the capital cities of monarchies in Europe, he was received warmly and given valuable gifts which included jewels and jewelry set with diamonds and emeralds. He gave all gifts received to his beloved wife. Apart from this he also spent his own money to purchase jewels and jewelry for his wife. During his trip to Vienna for the Congress he is reported to have purchased an emerald and diamond ornament for his wife. Lady Amelia being the wife of a renowned statesman was always in the lime light and must have adorned herself with the best of jewels and jewelry to all court functions both in Great Britain and Europe.


Lady Amelia bequeaths her jewels and jewelry to 7th Marquess of Lothian

When Lady Amelia died on February 12, 1829, she bequeathed her jewels and jewelry including the emeralds and diamonds to her nephew, John William Robert Kerr, the 7th Marquess of Lothian (1794-1841), the son of her half-sister Lady Harriet Hobart and her husband William Kerr, the 6th Marquess of Lothian. It was the 7th Marquess of Lothian who got the emeralds and diamonds re-set into the magnificent emerald and diamond necklace and matching pair of earrings, that is the subject of this webpage. It is believed that the re-setting was executed by the court jewelers perhaps in anticipation of the coronation of King William IV in 1831.

7th Marquess of Lothian

Thus the Marquess of  Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace and  matching pair of  earrings are extremely rare pieces of jewelry with a historic provenance associated with the British aristocracy, that have survived intact to the present day. Most of the antique jewelry of this period have been dismantled by jewelry houses and re-set in modern settings and sold to their customers.


The Marquess of Lothian Emerald and Diamond Necklace and Earrings are presently part of the collection of Albion Art Jewelry Museum in Japan

The historic necklace and earrings are today part of the collection of antique jewelry in the Albion Art Jewelry Museum in Japan. Albion Art was established in the city of Fukuoka in 1980, by Mr. Kazumi Arikawa, which was a successor to its predecessor Arikawa Jewelry founded by Mrs. Mieko Arikawa, in Kita Kyushu in 1970. Albion Art Co. Ltd. specializes in the importation and sale of superior antique European jewelry and also manufactures its own jewelry. It also engages in the retail sales of its jewelry through its retail outlets in Hotel New Otani Hakata, Fukuoka and in the Hotel Okura main building in Tokyo. In the year 2003, the company established the Albion Art Jewelry Institute, which was to be the cultural activities division of the company. The Institute contributes broadly to cultural exchanges of art and jewelry, and organizes exhibitions of art and paintings held in-house or other galleries and museums. The company by promoting fine arts and jewelry has developed the concept that jewelry is also a form of artistic expression.

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Back to Famous Gemstones


Catherine the Great’s Sapphire

Emerald and Diamond Parure of Marie Louise Empress of France

Norwegian Emerald Parure - Empress Josephine's Emerald Parure

External Links

Website of Albion Art Japan,



1.Website of Albion Art Japan,   
2.John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  
3.Sir John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire - the - A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain, as well as the royal families of Europe.
4.Robert Stewart - Viscount Castlereagh - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  




Dr Shihaan Larif
Founder Internet Stones.COM



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