I’m very excited to announce the publication of Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds today, a new novella, part of my new Jane Austen Jewel Box series, which I started here on Austen Variations a while ago.
A Jane Austen Jewel Box Novella.
Elizabeth is newly married to Fitzwilliam Darcy, the richest man in Derbyshire, owner of a vast estate, and master of Pemberley House. Her new role is daunting at first, and having to deal with Mr Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is a daily challenge. But, Elizabeth is deeply in love and determined to rise to every test and trial she is forced to endure. When her husband presents her with a diamond ring, part of the precious and irreplaceable Darcy suite of jewels, she feels not only honoured and secure in her husband’s love, but also ready to accept her new responsibilities and position.
Mrs Darcy knows she will face exacting scrutiny at the approaching Christmas Ball, but it will be her chance to prove that she is a worthy mistress, and she is excited to be playing hostess to the Bennets, the Bingleys, and the gentry families of Derbyshire, as well as Mr Darcy’s French cousins. Antoine de Valois and his sister Louise have arrived at the invitation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth is delighted that this young and lively couple are helping to bring Miss Georgiana Darcy out of her shell. However, when her ring goes missing before the ball, Elizabeth is distraught, and her dilemma further increased by the threat of a scandal that appears to involve the French cousins.
In celebration I have some prizes to give away!
Firstly, I’d like to offer two e-book copies of Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds – please leave a comment below if you’d like to be put into the hat for a book.
Secondly, I have two pretty paste brooches and a cross pendant with paste ‘amethyst’ stones to give as prizes (pictured above) – they are pieces of costume jewellery of indeterminate age but I chose them because they look very similar to many 19th century pieces I’ve seen. Brooches and crosses of this kind were very popular during the Georgian era and I think they’d look equally good worn with contemporary clothes or for wearing to a regency ball. The snowflake shaped brooch seemed appropriate as snow is a big feature in Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds- I even found an example of a Georgian snowflake brooch on an auction site today! The oval brooch looks very much like the diamond one in the picture below, and I was thinking of Jane and Cassandra’s topaz crosses when I chose the cross. It’s made of rose gold-plated on copper with amethyst stones, though I think these are probably paste.
Thirdly, I have a silvertone (not real silver) marcasite necklace, that looks very much like a cut steel necklace, which Mrs Bennet wears in Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds. It is a pretty piece of costume jewellery which would look lovely in a candlelit ballroom. The Georgians loved their floral designs, leaves and swags, and this necklace is very much in keeping with the period.
Here’s a website dealing in Georgian jewellery which gives you an idea of the kind of jewellery you’d be wearing if you were Mrs Elizabeth Darcy, and also how much genuine gem pieces cost today. There’s a real revival of interest for antique, especially Georgian, jewellery probably spurred on by all the adaptations on television!
One of my favourites types of jewellery is the rivière necklace – a short necklace, worn like a collar, strung with a line of faceted gems, often graduating in size. When the style first developed, in the late 17th or early 18th century, the settings were closed-back, but later versions had open settings, so that the effect was a continuous, glittering stream around the neck – “rivière” means “river” in French. Some ornate examples have additional gems dangling from the main necklace. The example above is from the Friar House archive.
What about Jane Austen’s own jewellery? The few pieces that have been passed down include a turquoise ring of a very simple style, a beaded bracelet, and a topaz cross given to her as a gift from her sailor brother Charles.
Jane’s cross is on the left and her sister’s on the right. These simple crosses command great sums these days – wouldn’t it be wonderful to own one? A few years ago I found a reasonably priced agate cross which I love wearing on special occasions.
The few pieces on my dressing table above are from my jewellery box – some treasured pieces given as gifts, but most of them only a few pounds off a well-known auction site! I have a replica of Jane’s beaded bracelet I bought a long time ago at Chawton, and I can tell a story about most – the Venetian necklace on the right is very special – my daughter bought it in Venice when she was on a school trip – I’m sure it must have cost her most of the money she’d taken with her. When I first had my books published, I had a bracelet made by Jean Steeley with my illustrations forming medallions all along-you can see it running along the bottom of the picture. Lovely brooches from friends and a gorgeous portrait one bought by my husband on a holiday to Lyme Regis make up the rest. Each has its special memories attached and that’s what makes jewellery so special to me. They might not be as costly as Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds but every one represents an event or wonderful time in my life.
Please leave a comment below along with a contact email if you’d like to win one of the three prizes, the oval brooch, the snowflake brooch or the cross, and please state in order of preference which one you’d like if you won. Names will be put into a hat and the prizewinners drawn on 12th September!