Sunday, 15 November 2015

Secrets of a Spy's Jewellery

Secrets of a Spy's Jewellery

As a biographer I hope to get under the skin of my subjects, to trace their emotions, hopes and attitudes, as well as their words and deeds. Often it is the smallest things that provide the most personal insights; a postscript on a letter, the view from a window, or the choice of jewellery worn.

My research into Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, Britain’s first female special agent of the Second World War, took me to Poland. One afternoon in Warsaw I met Maria, the niece of Krystyna’s one-legged, special agent lover, Andrzej Kowerski. As well as medals, photos and papers, Maria had brought along three pieces of jewellery. The first was a red coral necklace. I imagine it being a gift to Krystyna before the war. As a rather bored countess she would often ski, sometimes smuggling cigarettes for kicks, over the high Zakopane mountains where such coral is traditionally worn. It is easy to imagine her heart pounding beneath these beads.


Then came a beautiful gold and ivory cube that unfolded into a bracelet – a love-token bought for her by Andrzej when they were both posted to Cairo during the war. Having never seen the bracelet in photographs, I wonder whether she kept it, rather like her lover, close to her only when required. The last piece was a simple wooden bangle. ‘Try them all on’, Maria urged. Sadly my wrist was too large for the bangle. For all her great courage and strong will, Krystyna must have been physically very slight.

As the beads and bracelet warmed on my skin, I thought about two other pieces of Krystyna’s jewellery that have not survived. Once, when captured in Nazi-occupied Poland, she broke the thread of a cut-glass necklace, a gift from another lover, to save her life with the precious ‘diamonds’. But the only piece of jewellery she really cared about was her family signet ring, made of gold with a slice of steel embedded in it. This she wore throughout the war, and chose to display in her only known portrait. Appropriately for such an independent, freedom-loving woman, it was not gifts from men, but her own name and honour that she chose to wear proudly. That ring is now lost, but perhaps that is fitting too. I am not sure who else could rightly wear it.

12 comments:

  1. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot! Danny Evans

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! If you're interested, my biography of Krystyna is now out in paperback: The Spy Who Loved.

      Delete
  4. You must be in heaven at the moment. Library is no less than that. Especially when a library of this class hopefully you have a good time there. Keep writing more

    ReplyDelete
  5. Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.. promise rings for girls

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks so much with this fantastic new web site. very fired up to show it to anyone. It makes me so satisfied your vast understanding and wisdom have a new channel for trying into the world. pawnbrokers uk

    ReplyDelete
  7. I truly value this superb post that you have accommodated us. I guarantee this would be helpful for a large portion of the general population. Jewellery

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was very impressed by this post, this site has always been pleasant news Thank you very much for such an interesting post, and I meet them more often then I visited this site. halo engagement rings

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the tips guys. They were all great. I have been having issues with being fat both mentally and physically. Thanks to you guys i have been showing improvements. Do post more. Scottsdale diamonds

    ReplyDelete
  10. If the necklace is longer it should fall modestly underneath the shirt rather than drape visibly over it. In fact, all men's jewellery like watches, bracelets, necklaces, and the occasional earring are best worn in such a way that they peek out ever so subtly and enticingly from beneath clothing.Diamond engagement rings

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose. elegant bracelets

    ReplyDelete