A Pageant of Precious Stones: 1894

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A Pageant of Precious Stones.

Nothing could have been more brilliant than the recent pageant of precious stones which illuminated the streets of Brussels. The route followed by the novel procession was lined with dense crowds. As night set in the skies were seen to be clouded, and for a moment the weather threatened to put an unceremonious end to the program. A few drops of rain fell, but only to tantalize the spectators, for after a minute or two the downfall ceased. The procession had been formed in the Rue Ducale, and there, until nearly 8 o’clock, it remained a mysterious trail of shadows, the accoutrements of which dimly and mysteriously reflected the flickering lights of the streets. Precisely at 8 o’clock the figurantes lit their torches, the electrical apparatus was set to work and the whole street broke out into a blaze of multi-colored light. Amid enthusiastic cheers the procession was set in motion.

The first car represented Light, being an appropriate reminder that without the aid of the sun the most brilliant of precious stones would be robbed of its beauty. In a gorgeous chariot, covered with silver and blazing with light, the god Phoebus appeared in his most classical form. Following him was an escort of drummers, musicians and torch bearers, all dressed in white and silver, their tunics and casques ornamented with faceted silver plates.

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Then came a troop of cavaliers representing the turquoise, the topaz, the amethyst, the sapphire, the diamond, the emerald and the ruby, serving as a sort of summary of the cars and chariots forming the main body of the procession. Of these cars the most admired were the diamond and the ruby. The brilliant white of the one and the glowing red of the other, together with the artistic grouping of the figures on both, formed pictures of real artistic merit. In each case the colors of the precious stones and their geographical associations were admirably represented.

The topaz, with its figurante in a palanquin, and its attendants flourishing gigantic yellow fans, formed an admirable picture of Asiatic luxury. The turquoise car, with its twenty beauties apparelled in blue, and its floating mass of cerulean bijouterie, was also much admired. A miscellaneous cavalcade, representing jewelry, concluded the procession. For nearly three hours this gorgeous display perambulated the boulevards and principal streets.

The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review 5 December 1894: p. 45

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One would give much to have a cinematic or even photographic record of such a brilliant occasion. Normally one thinks of Brussels lace rather than her gemstones, but this cavalcade of gemstones, complete with “figurantes”–those picturesque ladies selected for their faces and figures–sounds perfectly enchanting.

Mrs Daffodil has written before about floral parades in the States, but any “float” adored with a “floating mass of cerulean bijouterie,” must surely surpass even the most lavish productions of nature. One wonders if there were any actual gemstones worn or draped about the cars; if so, the liability cover would have been prohibitive.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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