Stephanie Lake Debuts Habsburgs-Inspired Jewelry Collection for the MIA

Masterpieces by Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian, and Velázquez as well as suits of armor, and a gilded carriage are among the treasures featured in The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty, a touring exhibition making its world premiere this weekend at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The sprawling, 93-piece exhibit has become a point of inspiration for a commission by the museum from Minnesota-based jewelry designer Stephanie Lake. For the series of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, select pieces from the exhibit depicting lavishly dressed ladies, including Velazquez’s famous portrait of the Infanta Maria Teresa, and other royal regalia have been interpreted into Lake’s designs. Lake was an ideal collaborator for the exhibit, both for her ornate, collectible jewelry design aesthetic and her distinction as the fifth person in the world to hold a Ph.D. in decorative arts, design history, and material culture.

In a press release, Lake says she combined her history as a design scholar with her work as a designer to complement and interpret what she calls a “period of courtly opulence.”

It includes an antique coral branch collar inspired by a coral saber designed for the Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol, a fringe necklace inspired by the accessory donned by the Infanta Maria Teresa in Velazquez’ famous portrait, and a sunburst medallion with pave crystal horse inspired by the gilded carousel—its sunburst as a nod to the sun “never setting” on the Habsburg Empire. The collection presents a unique opportunity: the chance to own a modern-day interpretation of historic pieces of artwork.

The Habsburgs were a wealthy European dynasty that was in power from the 1400s until 1918, when World War I dissolved the German-allied Austro-Hungarian Empire. All of the art in the exhibit hails from the Vienna-based Kunsthistorisches Museum, and was organized by the MIA in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where the show will travel following its Twin Cities run. More of Lake’s work can be seen at

Exclusively available Feb. 15–May 10 at Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls., 1-888-642-2787, For jewelry sales, contact 612-870-3100 or

Stephanie Lake Design antique branch coral, gold-washed spikes, coral specimen, wrapped 1970s cast brass necklace, $1,565

Inspiration: Coral saber for the Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol

Stephanie Lake Design veined-and-gilded leaves with bezel-set headlight rhinestones and antique faceted jet fringe necklace, $845

Inspiration: Reiser portrait of Mary of Burgundy

Stephanie Lake Design bronze collar with spiral shell, blackened silver, and amethyst, $235

Inspiration: Ewer with Triton’s trumpet

Stephanie Lake Design stylized cast shield collar with trompe l’oeil braided infinity links and Art Decor beaded passementerie, $645

Inspiration: Armor for Archduke Sigmund

Stephanie Lake Design regal horse with pavé finish in gilded sunburst necklace, $675

Inspiration: Gilded carousel sleigh

Stephanie Lake Design mock-pearl collar with foliate-capped teardrop pendants and jeweled arc emblem, $935

Inspiration: Holbein portrait of Jane Seymour

Stephanie Lake Design 1920s gold-and-pearl passementerie bracelet with ostrich detail and rhinestone bands, $675

Inspiration: Court dress for Princess Elisabeth Kinsky

Stephanie Lake Design antique gold braid, pearl, crystal, and glass passementerie with gilded floral bands, $985

Inspiration: Dalmatic liturgical tunic

[All photos courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts]