Gem-set and diamond brooch, circa 1900
Designed as a butterfly, the head and thorax respectively set with a step-cut sapphire and an emerald and oval and pear-shaped diamonds, the wings set with variously shaped rubies, opals, emeralds and diamonds.
The XVIII Duke de Plasencia and Doña María de la Concepción lived during the very troubled and politically unstable years of the Spanish Civil War. They first met in Madrid on the terrace of the Hotel Universal in 1931 and it was love at first sight, however, the political situation separated them: the Duke took refuge in the Rumanian Embassy while Doña María de la Concepción moved to San Sebastian. Only twenty years later did they manage to formalise their union in holy matrimony in the famous Chapel of Santiago de Compostela.
This butterfly brooch was a present from the Duke to Doña María de la Concepción when during this very difficult period they managed on one occasion to meet in Biarritz, it was a symbolic gift to give her wings to escape the difficult political situation and a sign of a mutual oath and commitment to each other.