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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Titanic Jewelry Exhibition

Ring with sapphires and diamonds. Photo credit: RMS Titanic Inc.

Jewelry not only defines an individual’s personal style but it also provides an understanding of how people lived and what they valued at a given time in history. With this in mind an exhibition of jewels from the ill-fated RMS Titanic that opens Friday will attempt to help the public gain this understanding. It will be the first stop on a three-city tour that will end in May, 2013.

Filigree ring with diamonds. Photo credit: RMS Titanic Inc.

As everyone knows the British luxury passenger ship on its maiden voyage struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. A total of 1,502 passengers and crew, some of whom were among the wealthiest people of the time, were killed in the maritime accident. The sinking of the Titanic is considered one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history and it has captured the imagination of the public to this day.

The “Jewels of the Titanic” is a collection of 15 pieces of fine jewelry that gives a glimpse of how the wealthiest passengers traveled. Items on display include a hand-made platinum, 18k gold and diamond filigree ring; a gold ribbon brooch with diamonds; and a man’s green enamel and gold cufflinks and studs.

Ring with three diamonds. Photo credit: RMS Titanic Inc.

Alexandra Klingelhofer, VP of collections for RMS Titanic Inc., said most of the items that will be on display were found in a Gladstone bag uncovered during a research and recovery operation in 1987. The remaining items were found at various times during other recovery operations. RMS Titanic is a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc., which owns the rights to salvage the shipwreck site.

The jewelry owners are unknown but other items inside the bag reveal that the valuables were entrusted to a purser, who was responsible for handling the money and other valuables inboard the ship, she said. It’s believed the purser was taking care of the bag himself instead of leaving it in the safe during the shipwreck. However, he, like all the other pursers, did not survive.

Ribbon brooch with diamonds. Photo credit: RMS Titanic Inc.

“The majority of the best-of-the-best, high-end pieces came from the Gladstone bag,” Klingelhofer said. “They’re beautiful, explicit, Edwardian pieces.”

Klingelhofer said that some of the items had been on display at various times over the years but this is the first time they will be featured together. The timing is part of the way the organization has been commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the shipwreck.

Green enameled gold cufflinks and studs. Photo credit: RMS Titanic Inc.

“We thought it would be a fitting end to the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic and that the jewelry would be highlighted in a different way as a mini-exhibit,” she said.

The jewelry will be on display at the three permanent Titanic exhibition spaces that are owned and operated by RMS Titanic and Premier Exhibitions, Inc. The dates and locations are as follows:

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
Premier Exhibition Center
Atlantic Station
Nov. 16 – Jan. 6, 2013

Titanic The Experience
International Drive
Jan. 11, 2013 – March 12, 2013

Las Vegas
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
Luxor Hotel and Casino
Mar. 22, 2013 – May 31, 2013

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