Why Boxes Matter - Maison van der Stichel
Recently we received 2 boxes of a long forgotten Dutch jeweller: Maison van der Stichel. 1 of the beautiful royal blue boxes contains 2 18-carat white gold, onyx and pearl collar studs from circa 1920. Though very charming, they are relatively unassuming compared to the historical importance of these boxes: they happen to give a clue in a royal jewellery puzzle, the one about the maker of the grand diamond and sapphire tiara of the Dutch royal house.
History of the tiara
For a long time it was known that in 1881 Vita Israël delivered this tiara, with 2 bracelets, to the Dutch royal court. Vita Israël was a prominent Amsterdam based broker in jewellery, diamonds and other expensive things, but they didn’t make jewellery themselves. In 2013, after Queen Máxima of the Netherlands wore the tiara for the inauguration of her husband King Willem-Alexander, prominent Dutch gemmologist George Hamel presented his research. In a German magazine from 1898, the year in which Queen Wilhelmina was inaugurated during which event her mother Queen Emma wore this tiara, he found a photo of the actual tiara – unworn, which is rare in itself – and a mention of the maker: Maison van der Stichel. Hurrah!
However, the name didn’t ring a bell with many. Apart from a historic photo of their premises on the Keizersgracht and a few mentions in historic newspapers, hardly anything is known about this Maison van der Stichel. No archives are available, as happened with so many once prominent jewellers. Thanks to Hamel’s research, one of those forgotten names saw daylight again; it even received national news coverage.
Back to the boxes
Apart from the photo and the few mentions in historic media, searches into Maison van der Stichel jewels, for example in auction databases or on websites of dealers, result in nothing. But now these small jewels of Maison van der Stichel are known, and we know what their boxes look like.