Mellerio: new findings on Dutch royal jewels
Vincent Meylan’s new book Mellerio dits Meller, Joaillier des Reines has finally been published. It is the first ever book on the history of this high jeweller, made to mark the 4th centenary of this remarkable family business at Rue de la Paix in Paris. Since 1613, all Queens and Empresses of France were clients of Mellerio.
And of course, Mellerio is known for its commissions from the Dutch royal court, first and foremost for the remarkably grand ruby parure. Meylan’s book contains some surprises regarding the Dutch royal jewels: many jewels attributed to Mellerio in fact were not supplied by this jeweller, and others – of which the maker was previously unknown – in fact are.
Sapphires: not Mellerio
When King Willem-Alexander was inaugurated on April 30, 2013, his wife Queen Máxima wore a magnificent tiara with sapphires that has been attributed to Mellerio by many people for a long time. This attribution is based on a tiara design from 1867 by Oscar Massin, who worked for Mellerio, but certainly not exclusively. The tiara Queen Máxima wore was made in 1881 in a different design, but still clearly based on the design by Massin. Ever since the publication of René Brus his book De Juwelen van het Huis Oranje-Nassau in 1996, it has been very clearly documented the attribution to Mellerio is unfounded.
In his book, Meylan confirms the archives of the jeweller contain no record at all for this tiara. In fact, none of the jewels in the so-called sapphire ‘parure’ – it is not a parure at all, it is a collection of separate jewels all in a different design which are worn together – originate from Mellerio. Also not the sapphire and diamond brooch King Willem III gave to his young fiancée Emma in 1879. The name Mellerio can definitely be scrapped from all these jewels.
Another story to be corrected, is that of the tiara Princess Mabel – wife of the late Prince Friso – wore for her wedding and afterwards. It has been said this tiara is a second setting of the grand sapphire tiara that was delivered with the tiara back in 1881. In fact, Meylan’s research shows this jewel was bought – in a large order of 22 pieces of jewellery – in April 1888 as a necklace, convertible to a tiara, containing white and brown diamonds. Apparently the brown diamonds in the top row were replaced for the large brilliants from the grand sapphire tiara at a certain point, and that is the version in which we see the jewel nowadays.
Many jewels from the April 1888 order remain unknown these days, possibly because the less expensive ones were intended as gifts to others. However, some jewels in the order are still worn today. For example, the charming diamond brooch in the shape of an anchor with a blue and a yellow sapphire – worn by Queen Juliana – is in fact from Mellerio. The same goes for the round diamond brooch with a star motive often worn by Princess Laurentien. A large diamond bracelet with the same star motive, often worn by Queen Máxima and by Princess Beatrix, comes from the same order.
Vincent Meylan’s book contains a chapter dedicated to the Dutch royal court and their acquisitions at Mellerio. The ruby parure – considered one of the highlights in the history of the jeweller – is very well documented with the original pages from the livre d’atelier listing all the stones used in the parure, including carat weight. Also, it was established that Oscar Massin is the designer of the ruby parure. Furthermore, the remarkable history of Mellerio and especially its long lasting relations with the French court is beautifully documented in a well-written account. The book is a must have for any lover of high jewellery.
The book Mellerio dits Meller, Joaillier des Reines can be ordered here.
@allthingsroyal dat is inmiddels de nodige jaren geleden. Hij is klaar om gedragen te worden
@allthingsroyal die komt zeker wel. SB Zweden of VK
@courtjeweller the elements of the necklace are much, much older, the large stones 17th century
@courtjeweller only the necklace, just slightly less important. Might be the oldest jewel in the collection that is still worn