President's Corner April 2012 - The Final Gala Dinner of the Titanic

The Titanic's maiden voyage was not an everyday Caribbean Cruise. Rather, it was a dramatic expression of excellence, excess and abundance of wealth. The first class passenger list was a who's who of the rich and prominent of 1912. A single person in first class cost £30 (which is approximately the equivalent of £2,201) and up to £870 (approximately £63,837 today) for a parlor suite and small private promenade deck. First class passengers enjoyed a number of amenities including a gymnasium, a squash court, a salt water swimming pool, electric and Turkish baths, a barbershop, kennels for first class dogs, elevators and both open and enclosed promenades.


At the time, displaying ones fortune was respected. In fact, most first class passengers also travelled accompanied by their personal staff - valets, maids, nurses for the children, chauffeurs and personal cooks.


The Ships extravagant services were fitting for those aboard. As an excellent exampple, the last dinner on the Titanic was well documented and remembered. Many fancy restaurants have since tried to recreate it as a symbol of luxury dining.

 

 The First-Class Menu

 

As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912


First Course
Hors D'Oeuvres
Oysters


Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley

 

Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

 

Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci

 

Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Pea
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

 

Sixth Course
Punch Romaine

 

Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress

 

Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

 

Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras
Celery

 

Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Éclairs
French Ice Cream

 

Following the tenth course, fresh fruits and cheeses were available followed by coffee and cigars accompanied by port and, if desired, distilled spirits. If you have to have a last dinner, you could do a lot worse!- writes Gary Fischer.

The guests who traveled first class on the Titanic and dined on a 12 course dinner with the richest passenger on board, John Astor, where dressed appropriately. No one was wearing jeans, a blouse, and a Sweetwater pearl necklace. For a real lady does not just put on a dress, rather, she gets entirely dressed up.

Amazingly, nobody writes about the jewelry and dresses the ladies were wearing. There are sure to be thousands of fine pieces of evening jewelry guests might have lost in the ocean that evening.

Among the artifacts recovered from underwater expeditions to the Titanic were two beautiful rings. One included 60 diamonds and the other an exquisite Sapphire center stone.

Many exceptional ladies boarded the Titanic maiden voyage and it is amazing to consider the jewelry that they were wearing. I imagine that at table number 9 seated the most rich and famous, together with John and Madeline Astor and Eleanor Widener. 

Eleanor Widener must have meticulously prepared what she will wear on the first Gala evening. Three dresses to chose from and her favored multicolor diamond jewelry, for this was afterall the maiden voyage of the ship.

Eleanor Widener was convinced that it would be trip of a lifetime. Sadly- she was right.

Madeleine Astor needed some exceptional jewelry as well to wear at the first Gala Dinner. Since we don’t really know what pieces she had on, I can propose what we would have dressed her up with.

Perhaps if this vintage jewelry was made by Leibish & Co. and designed by our very own Chavi Itzhakov...

 

 

 Chavi Itzhakov - Leibish & Co.

Leibish & Co.'s Jewelry Designer, Chavi Itzhakov, who crafted all the pieces shown below

 

 

Eleanor and her husband weren't the richest passengers on board--that honor went to John Jacob Astor. However, they were not too far behind. Her husband was the heir to the largest fortune in Philadelphia and with that comes a certain social responsibility. Consequently, they were very well-known for their lavish parties and their enviable guest lists. Once aboard the Titanic, they made it a point to meet the right people and invite them to their private parties.


Let us ask our designer Chavi Itzhakov- what Eleanor would have been wearing for the Gala Dinner at the Titanic?

 

 

Multicolor Diamond Necklace

 

 

Multicolor Diamond Earrings 

 A magnificent multicolor diamond necklace and a matching pair of earrings

Some of the other table 9 attendees were Helene Baxter, Lucile Carter, Airedale and King Charles Spaniel, and Alice Elizabeth Fortune.

Helene Baxter was the wife of the infamous "Diamond Jim" Baxter and descendant of the French-Canadian heroine, Madeleine de Vercheres. Helen had purchased one of the Titanic's most expensive suites, B 58/60, for the cost of £247.

Although the business was lost, Helen was very well cared for from her husband’s wise investments. After selling her mansion and the Baxter Block, Helen would have wanted to show her wealth with something striking, such as a Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring.

 Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Ring

 

 A Fancy Vivid Blue, Pear-shaped Diamond ring

 

Lucile Carter, wife of William Ernest Carter, survived together with her husband and two children. She was noted to have often sported striking cloths and extravagant wear.  Lucile was very excited of the idea of the Grand Staircase. Knowing that she could make a dramatic entrance into the first class saloon in front of some of the most famous men and woman around. She knew that the internationally famous couturier, Lady Duff-Gordon, was on the Titanic and assumed that many of the women in the saloon would be wearing her gowns.

Lucile was a tough woman known for her athletic side, which came very much into play when she took the over the oar of the life boat. There is no question that she dressed herself up for that entrance with a dazzling pair of earrings and a ring that grasped the attention of the room. 

Multicolor Diamond Ring

 

Multicolor Diamond Flower Brooch

 A 4.27 Carat, Fancy Color Diamond Collage Designer Ring and a Magnificent Multicolor Diamond Flower Brooch

 

Miss Alice Elizabeth Fortune was only 24 when she boarded the Titanic. There is a story told about Alice that tells of her travels to Cairo, Egypt. Only two months before the Titanic sailed, she was approached by an Egyptian fortune teller who warned her that she was in danger while travelling at sea. For he he saw her adrift in an open boat. Alice returned to her home in Manitoba, Canada and married Charles Holden Allen just two months later just before they boarded the great Titanic.

As a young, elegant girl our jewelry designer would have dressed her in nothing but pink diamonds. 

1.02 Carat, Fancy Light Pink Pave Mill-grain halo ring, Radiant, SI2

 

1.00 Ct Very Light Pink Emerald pendant

A 1.02 Carat, Fancy Light Pink Pave Mill-grain halo ring, Radiant-shaped Diamond Ring and a 1.00 Carat Very Light Pink, Emerald-shaped Diamond Pendant

 

Madeline and John Astor were among the richest couples of America at the time. Everyone wanted to be on their table. John Astor had a net worth of what would be today about two Billion. There is no doubt that something of both extreme rarity and beauty would have on display.

 

2.00 ct, Fancy Yellow, Cushion-shaped diamond ring -C5171

 

Matching Fancy Yellow, Pear-shaped, Diamond Earrings

A 2.00 Carat, Fancy Yellow, Cushion, VS1 diamond ring and a 2.04 Carat, Fancy Light Yellow Halo Drop, Pear-shaped Earrings

 

Most of the ladys on the table of the rich and famous survived, but all their man perished. All money on the face of this earth could not help them to get a place in a lifeboat.

So what happened to all their glorious diamond jewelry? A diamond can endure 100 years under arctic waters. It wouldn’t lose its color, its luster or its shine. Nothing is timeless except diamonds. All the passengers from the Titanic are dead and mostly forgotten, but a piece of jewelry from the Titanic, whether on the ocean floor or recovered, will live forever.

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