Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mistress Jewelry - Then and Now

By on Sunday, March 21, 2010 6 Comments

The unfortunate public saga of Tiger Woods' marital transgressions recently sank to a new low. Did you know Howard "Shock Jock" Stern hosted a Best Mistress Pageant earlier this week? The prizes included $100,000  and this beautiful 3.5 total carat weight black diamond ring by Phildelphia jeweler Steven Singer.

The 3 contestants were actually Woods' mistresses.  Jamie Junger, mistress #4 in the chronological time line of revelations, won. The judges  based their selection on "bikini", "personality" and "talent". It's not clear what sort of talent they were looking for! The judges as well as the prize money came from AshleyMadison.com, an online dating service for the unfaithful.


The ring designer said "Well, the mistress never gets the ring. So we've created the "non-engagement" ring for the winner of the beauty pageant". Indeed. Via

Mistress jewelry is not new. Such jewelry has existed for as long as there were rich, powerful men who strayed. In previous centuries, opportunities for advancement for women were few. So jewelry gifts (as well as other valuable assets like real estate) were often received and in many cases necessary. When the liaison ended, so did the support. The jewelry could be sold to pay off debts and perhaps fund a retirement. But that was not always a certainty as the jewelry could be snatched back by the man's family.

Mistresses: True Stories of Seduction Power and AmbitionIn his book Mistresses: True Stories of Seduction Power and Ambition author Leigh Eduardo differentiated a courtesan from a mistress - courtesans were women after financial gain whereas a mistress, especially an aristocratic one, may be motivated by other reasons - like escaping from loveless arranged marriages to a much older man.  Royal marriages were politically motivated and not by personal choice. So once the requisite heirs were produced, monarchs often wandered.

 High born mistresses accepted jewelry gifts as a token of admiration and desire but not money for that would degrade their dignity.

If you enjoy my occasional bejeweled biographies, you might like to check out some past posts about mistresses so far. One of the greediest royal mistresses I wrote about was the notorious Barbara, Countess Castlemaine who helped herself to the Royal Jewels and got England's King Charles II to buy her loads more. Charles II was lucky he had a very able Lord Chancellor who blocked Barbara's jewelry grab as often as he could.

France was not so lucky. Outrageous spending including jewelry for a succession of royal mistresses of Kings Louis XIV and XV eventually cost King Louis XVI his head in the French Revolution. Another post you may like to read is Madame Du Barry's Missing Jewelry. She was the last mistress of Louis XV who acquired her after he lost his precious Madame de Pompadour (shown below).  Madame de Pompadour's Jewels is the story of a commoner who achieved a "career" goal of being a King's paramour but paid dearly with her health.


One mistress universally touted as a wonderful and generous person was the American actress Marion Davies who could not marry William Hearst but proved she did love him by helping him when he was in deep financial trouble. (The Hollywood Actress, the Newspaper Baron and Jewelry).

Jewels Of The Globe
Mistresses do sometimes end up marrying their paramours. Check out The Duchess of Windsor's Jewelry, the post about Wallis Simpson who once said, "You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance."  She is shown on the left around 1936 wearing her Cartier emerald engagement ring and a sapphire and diamond bracelet.

Did you know her contemporary, Sita Devi, was known as the Indian Wallis Simpson? (Baroda Pearls and Sita Devi) She too married up.

Related post
Philippe Tournaire's Dream Houses on Rings

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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6 comments:

  1. Leave it to Howard Stern to be involved with such an event...that speaks volumes about the "event"!!!

    Oh my goodness...that ring is absolutely stunning...I would love that!!!
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice! I'd also recommend Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman- it was an excellent read.

    I also really like the idea that the anti-engagement ring has a black diamond, in a reversal of the traditional engagement ring.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, I do have that book too, Casey as well as her other book Sex with Kings. I use it as one of my references - check out the Catherine the Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Whoops, I meant the book Sex with Queens. Another great historical read.

    Heather, we shouldn't be surprised with what Howard Stern does!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't even bring myself to comment on Howard Stern's adventures but the ring is indeed, beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Casey's comment is spot on - black was a rather interesting choice of color.

    ReplyDelete

 

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