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Exhibitions: Dames & Knights – Jewels of Honor


Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa – Grand Cross coat-of-arms and Grand Cross Badge.
The coat-of-arms represents a nine-pointed enamelled white star with, on the side, nine groups of golden rays which in their turn have a small five-pointed enamelled white star.
The star in the centre presents a medallion with the initial “M.A.” of Mary, and around the inscription “Padroeira do Reino” Mistress of the Kingdom. Decoration suspended by a laurel crown.
Grand Cross Badge: gold, silver and enamel. 9×7,5 cm.
Grand Cross coat-of-arms: gold, silver and enamel, 11,5×6,5 cm.
Andrea Rosso Collection.
Portugal – Reign


The Jewellery Museum of Vicenza, unique in its genre, officially opened, last March 23rd, the temporary exhibition “Dames and Knights. Jewels of Honor”. An extraordinary opportunity to admire, until the 17th of September 2017, a celebration of the ancient tradition linked to the jewels of honors – a tradition that is still alive today, in many forms and representations.


The exhibition develops in two main sections, and it aims at being an overview of prizes that were, and are, awarded for civil, military and religious virtues and merits (virtute et merito).

The bejewelled insignia presented have a strong meaning, not only because of their intrinsic value and symbolism, but also, and even more, because of their link to the historical context.

In the words of Alba Cappellieri, Director of the Museum:

“The pluralism as interpretation of contemporaneity is the principle which the ‘Dames and Knights’ subtends, curated by Alessandra Passamai who focuses on the decorations related to a honor, to a knightly order that are interesting not only for their aesthetic and semiotic point of view, but also because of their very strong bond with the context.”

Bestowed on during individual and collective ceremonies, these medals, crosses and stars became means of contact and were a tangible symbol of gratitude from and to the Country – a declaration of the daily commitment and the duties that being a knight involves, a sign of honor that made merits and values, visible.

The exhibition develops into two section: one devoted to male honors, and another to female honors.

The male honors section comprises 40 knighthood insignia, coming from the most important and rare collections in the world, and of 10 additional pieces coming from the collection of Giovanni Giolitti, a very important Italian statesman who received these honors from the the Italian King and from others European and international States as Head of State himself.

Here is a selection of these masterpieces.


Order of the White Eagle – Grand Cross Badge and Commander coat-of-arms.
The plaque is made of a star on which there is a white bicephalous eagle surmounted by the Royal Crown and, at the centre, the emblem of the Kingdom of Serbia.
The order was founded in 1883 by King Milan I of Serbia.
Gold, silver, enamel.
9,6×9 cm and 10×3,6 cm
Giovanna Giolitti Collection.
Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation.
This is the highest honor of the House of Savoy, the collar being composed of gilded bronze elements alternating to the savoyard knot.
In the centre there is a pendant with the image of the Most Holy Annunciation.
The small collar was not to be returned and became a gift for the family of the knight, who could then be considered “cousin to the King” and was allowed to talk to him in familiar terms.
Gilded bronze.
6,5×4,5 cm (pendant) and 67 cm (necklace).
Andrea Rosso Collection.
Italy – Reign
Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.
The origins of this order are dated back to Emperor Constantine I, and it is considered to be the most ancient order of Christianity and the most ancient one ever.
The collar is made of a heavy gilded bronze chain, bearing Christ’s initials and the effigy of St. George killing the dragon.
Gilded bronze and enamel.
9×6,5 cm (pendant) and 60 cm (necklace).
Andrea Rosso Collection.
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Order of Saint Alexander Nevskij – Grand Cross Badge.
The badge represents a eight-pointed star with diamonds, and at its centre the diamond inscription “For the job and the country”.
Awarded to Giovanni Giolitti in 1909 on the occasion of the official visit to Italy, at the Castle of Racconigi, of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.
Gold, silver, enamel and diamonds.
9×9 cm
Giovanna Giolitti Collection
Russia – Empire


The Ladies honors section comprises 10 pieces, among which the most interesting is the Order Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani O.S.M.T.H.:


Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani O.S.M.T.H.
(Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem).
The collar belongs to a dame of the Sovereign Order of Italy O.S.M.T.H.
It represents a double cross of gilded metal and red enamel, surmounted by a gilded crown.
Gilded metal and enamel.
8,5×3,5 cm (pendant) and 52 cm (necklace).
Passamai-Vita Collection
Italy – Reign


The exhibition ‘Dame and Knights. Jewels of Honor’ is an evocative path that takes the visitors through a journey exploring insignia and their intrinsic values and meanings through time.

A real piece of history recalling those moments when virtues and merits in the most diverse fields used to be officially recognized – an institution that started in the XIth century, remaining exclusive to Knights, and being enlarged to Dames only as of 1662.

‘Dames and Knights. Jewels of Honor’, curated by Alessandra Passamai, is a very interesting exhibition about something so official as a jewel of honor, and it conveys its past importance by projecting it into present times, thanks to its communication power, and for its intrinsic value –  a jewel that decorates, a jewel that celebrates. CC


Exhibition: Dames and Knights. Jewels of Honors / May 24th – September 17th 2017 / Jewellery Museum of Vicenza / Piazza dei Signori, 36100 Vicenza – Italia / / Tel. +39.0444.320799






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