What is The Grand Decoration of The Order?

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    Pete Normand

    It is common to see Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Masons wearing a jewel on a white ribbon that is often called a “Thirty-third Degree jewel.” However, it is not the jewel of the Thirty-third Degree, it is the Grand Decoration of The Order. The jewel of the Thirty-third Degree looks nothing like this.

    The jewel of the Thirty-third Degree is a double-headed eagle and is described as “the double-headed imperial eagle of the Empire of the East and West, with beak and legs of gold, holding the sword whose crooked blade is a symbol of the lightning, and wearing the golden diadem of Prussia, on which is a triangle of gold.”

    The Thirty-third Degree jewel is worn on a cordon placed around the neck and extending down to a point in the middle of the wearer’s chest. “The cordon … is white, bordered with gold, having upon it the enraged golden triangle….” The numeral “33” appears in the middle of the triangle. Additionally, two swords “point to the figures in the center of the triangle.”

    Undoubtedly, you have seen pictures of Albert Pike wearing this familiar white cordon and jewel.

    So, what is the jewel that you often see Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Masons wearing as a breast jewel? It is the Grand Decoration of The Order, and is described in full on pages 269 and 270 in the Appendix of the Grand Constitutions of 1786.

    It comes in four classes: 33rd Degree Inspectors General Honorary wear the 4th Class jewel (1 1/2 inches diameter on a white ribbon). Active and Emeriti Members of the Supreme Council wear the 3rd Class jewel (1 3/4 inches diameter on a white ribbon edged in purple). The 2nd Class jewel, the same as the 3rd Class jewel, is worn on a purple ribbon, edged with white, 2 1/2 inches in width, and worn around the neck. It is worn by the Grand Prior, Grand Chancellor, Grand Minister of State, Grand Almoner, and Active and Emeriti Members who have held those offices, by Grand Representatives of the Supreme Council, and by Active and Emeriti Members of the Supreme Council who have been such for twenty years. The 1st Class jewel is as described for the 3rd Class, but is imposed upon a rayed sun of silver, 2 1/2 inches diameter, set with diamonds, and worn on the left breast. It is worn by the Sov. Grand Commander, the Lieutenant Grand Commander, by those who have held either office, “and by eminent Masons abroad to whom the honor may be especially decreed by the Supreme Council.” (see Statutes of the Supreme Council, Art. XIII, Sec. 4-8.)

    Fraternally,

    P. G. “Pete” Normand, Jr., 33°
    Valley of Houston
    Fellow, Scottish Rite Research Society

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