Bodice ornament

In the early 19th century an appreciation of natural beauty was seen as a mark of refinement. As the century progressed, jewellery became ever more detailed in its representations of plants and flowers.

This dramatic bodice ornament is made in the form of a bouquet of fuchsias, carnations and chrysanthemums. These blooms quiver with the movement of the wearer. The structure of the ornament allows it to be dismantled into smaller sections, or worn as a whole, pinned to the bodice.

Bodice ornament

 

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Bodice ornament

Probably England, about 1850
Brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds set in gold
Cory Bequest
V&A:M.115-1951

Lady Cory

 

Lady Cory (1870-1946) is shown here wearing her bodice ornament, alongside diamond earrings and a naturalistic tiara.

She was a fashionable London figure whose husband made a fortune from coal mining and the sale of ‘Cory’s Motor Spirit’. She was also an important connoisseur of 18th- and 19th-century jewellery, and even acquired pieces from the former Russian Imperial collection.

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Lady Cory

About 1925, by Claude Harris
Photograph

Private Collection

 


Lady Cory was well known for attending first nights at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden bedecked in a magnificent array of diamond jewellery, including these three jewels. In 1946 she bequeathed many magnificent jewels to the V&A.

Tiara, pair of earrings and floral spray

 

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Tiara, pair of earrings and floral spray

England, about 1820; England, about 1860; Western Europe, about 1860
Brilliant-cut diamonds, silver and gold
Cory Bequest
Case 54, 22 and 18. V&A M.117, 78 to B,140-1951

Victoria & Albert Museum, London