Burÿ & Leonhard
Star of the Saxe-Ernestine Order
Gold, yellow and white diamonds, opals, emeralds and enamel
10 × 9cm
Commissioned for Prince Albert (?)
The Saxe-Ernestine House Order was founded in 1833 by Prince Albert’s father, Ernest of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, jointly with the rulers of Saxe-Meiningen and Saxe-Altenburg. Prince Albert was appointed a Grand Cross of the Order in 1838. He had received the Order of Christ from Maria II of Portugal (whose consort was Prince Albert’s uncle) in 1836, and was to be appointed to the Order of Leopold by another uncle, the King of the Belgians, in November 1839. The appearance of this star in C.R. Leslie’s painting of the christening of the Princess Royal in February 1841 serves as a terminus ante quem, but no bill survives in the accounts of the Queen or the Prince from the jewellers Burÿ & Leonhard, the Saxon crown jewellers and suppliers of insignia of the Saxe-Ernestine Order. There are however two entries, one in March and one in May 1840 on the Prince’s account. The May entry is for £161 18s for a turquoise. The March entry, for 4,118 florins (approximately £351) is commensurate with a star of this quality, which the Prince may have wanted as a suitable companion piece for the diamond Garter star which he had received as a wedding present.
The distinctive and unusual use of opals to represent white enamel in the star, and yellow diamonds to represent the gold of the arms of the star, are echoed in the yellow diamonds representing the gold of the Golden Fleece.
Engraved: Burÿ & Leonhard Hofjuwelier Hanau
Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010