Sunday, July 27, 2008

Imperial Rubies

One of the most beautiful ruby parures was originally owned by
Marie Alexandrovna, the Duchess of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-
Gotha. Only daughter of Tsar Alexandar II of Russia, Marie
Alexandrovna was used to having the best of everything.
Her jewelry collection was superb and the bridal gifts from
her father were no exception.

Created by Bolin and given in 1874, the year of her marriage to
Prince Alfred, the parure consisted of a lotus-motif tiara, a
devant de corsage and a sumptuous necklace. As for the other
pieces shown, I am personally not certain of the background of
the three separate pieces, pendant earrings and one lone cluster.

The Duchess of Edinburgh wore her rubies for the coronation
festivities of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. Here she is
photographed wearing the devant de corsage and necklace.
There seems to have never been pictures of Marie Alexandrovna
wearing the tiara, although she had another ruby tiara in
her collection.

From the Duchess of Edinburgh, the parure went to her daughter
Alexandra, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. If anyone recalls
seeing pictures of the princess wearing her mother's jewels,
let me know because I have yet to see one. The last wearer of
the set was Princess Margarita of Greece, Princess Alexandra's
daughter-in-law. She wore the tiara to the 1962 wedding of
Juan Carlos of Spain and Sofia of Greece, as well as another
wedding in the 1970's (pictured). The princess died in 1981
and her jewels were auctioned off in 1989.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ruby Red

It has been a long while since I last posted. Since it is still July,
I thought about posting some things about rubies. Here is what I posted at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board.

The Greek ruby parure consists of a tiara in the naturalistic design
of olive fruits and leaves, a pair of pendant earrings, a necklace,
and two brooches.

Personally I do not know which pieces made up the original parure.
From this postcard picture of Queen Olga, born a Grand Duchess of
Russia, we can see the tiara and a choker necklace. I think there
was a pendant brooch, but since I cannot locate the bigger picture,
I can only speculate.

Bjarne Steen Jensen was kind enough to post a response to my initial
posting. Part of the parure may well have been a gift from King
George I to his wife, but given the financial state of the Greek
royal family at that time, the rest could have come from Russia.

I had thought the tiara altered, but Bjarne reassured us that it had
not. Rather, the tiara's leaves could be moved a little.

According to Bjarne, the rubies were left to Prince Nikolaos by Queen Olga. After his death, his widow, the former Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, presented the parure to Queen Frederika. In turn the then dowager queen gifted the set to her newly married daughter-in-law, Queen Anne-Marie.

From Queen Frederika's picture we can see that the necklace has been
shortened. Two pendants are gone, and so are several links. The color
of the rubies is a dark pinkish red that can be most likely categorized
as the color of pigeon's blood. Personally I like rubies that are
bright red or a rich red like human blood, since I have never seen
the blood of a pigeon. As for point of origination, it is probably Burma.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Peridot Power!

One of my favorite green parures and the one that got me to better
appreciate semiprecious stones, is the peridot parure of Archduchess
Isabella of Austria.

From the Sotheby's auction catalog (London - Magnificient Antique
Jewels 6/20/01), the parure was attributed to the Habsburg Imperial
Jeweller Kochert and originally made for the Archduchess Henriette,
wife of Archduke Karl of Tuscany. The parure passed on from
Archduke Karl to his nephew and heir, Archduke Friedrich,
the husband of Archduchess Isabella.

The parure consists of a tiara, necklace, earrings and a corsage
ornament, with large fine quality peridots set in flower and leaves
setting of the 1820's. After the death of Archduchess Isabella's
widower in 1936, the parure was auctioned off in 1937. It was
purchased by Count Johannes Coudenhove-Kalergi, the father of the
parure's last owner.

After the death of Countess Maria Coudenhove-Kalergi the jewels
were again auctioned off in 2001 and purchased by the jewelry
firm Fred Leighton. The necklace and earrings were worn by Joan
Rivers to the Acadent Awards a year or so after the sale.

Archduchess Isabella, nee Croy, wearing the peridot parure for a
portrait taken during the coronation of Emperor Karl I of Austria
as King of Hungary. The necklace's pendants can be removed and
placed upright on the tiara.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Emerald Dreams

Another beautiful set of green are the royal emeralds of Greece.
The parure consists of a large diamond tiara set with five
cabachon emeralds, a pair of drop earrings, a corsage ornament
and five detachable pendant drops. Queen Anne-Marie wears the
pendant drops on a diamond chain that she inherited from her
grandmother, Queen Alexandrine of Denmark.

The emeralds most likely came to Greece with Queen Olga, born
a Russian grand duchess. I have not seen any image of the queen
wearing the emeralds in any setting, but Russia was a source of
emeralds and the Romanovs had many of the best gems in their
possession. So who was the first owner of the emeralds?

The first known wearer of the stones was Queen Elisabeth, born
a princess of Romania and daughter of the flamboyant Queen Marie.
In the first picture the queen wore a single cabachon emerald,
set between diamond leaves, as a bandeau. Later on it was redone
as another bandeau, this time with two other cabachons all set
upright on a row of collet diamonds. The tiara was reset yet
again, this time set between E-shaped diamond motifs in a
kokoshnik frame. E of course was for "Elisabeth", making it
and the matching corsage ornament a unique design.

When Queen Frederika, nee Hanover, wore the tiara, the border
had been removed and the jewel augmented. The queen often
wore it as a necklace, along with the diamond tiara of her
mother-in-law, Queen Sophia, nee Prussia. Queen Anne-Marie
has worn the emeralds many times - the Pahlavi celebrations
at Persepolis, Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Berleburg-Sayn's
wedding and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark's wedding.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Beautiful Green

The Norwegian emerald
parure is one of the
loveliest, with the dark,
rich green of the rain
forest. Its origins goes
back to Napoleon with the
neo-Classical design common
for that time. The original
owner was reportedly the
Empress Josephine, making
its way first to Sweden
through Princess Josephine
of Leuchtenberg.

Queen Sofia of Sweden, nee Nassau, wearing the tiara. During her
time the necklace had seven pendants and there were no earrings.
Crown Princess Margarita, nee Connaught, wore her mother-in-law's
emeralds to her cousin King George V's coronation in 1911. The
set was later inherited by the queen's youngest son, Prince Carl,
and worn by his wife, Princess Ingeborg, nee Denmark.

The tiara, necklace and brooch came to Norway as gifts to Crown
Princess Martha from her parents on the birth of the Norwegian
heir, the future King Harald. By the time Crown Princess Martha
received the jewels, all but one of the pendants were gone, and
the two large tear-shaped emeralds were replaced by diamond
honeysuckle motifs and made into earrings.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Green Queen

In honor of March and St. Patrick's Day,
I thought some green would be appropriate.
We start off with the Cambridge Emeralds.
They were won in a charity lottery in 1818
by Queen Mary's grandmother, Augusta,
the Duchess of Cambridge.

After Queen Mary acquired the Vladimir Circle Tiara she had it
adapted to be worn with the remaining fifteen emerald drops.

Other pieces in the collection include two pendant brooches.
Along with the emeralds presented to Queen Mary at the Delhi
Durbar, these green gems are just luscious!
(The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field, 1987 ed., p.88)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Khedive of Egypt Cartier Tiara

A jewel of great sentimental value to the Danish Royal Family
is the diamond and platinum Cartier tiara of Crown Princess
Margarita of Sweden. It was originally a weddng gift from
the Khedive of Egypt to Princess Margaret of Connaught, who
was to marry the future King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden in
1905. Egypt was the place where the royal couple first met.

After the untimely death of Crown Princess Margarita in 1920,
the tiara was inherited by her daughter Princess Ingrid, who
brought it with her when she married into the Danish Royal
Family in 1935. Upon her death in 2000 the tiara passed on
to Queen Ingrid's youngest daughter, Queen Anne-Marie of

When the three daughters of Queen Ingrid got married, they
wore their grandmother's tiara as a way to acknowledge her
memory; Princess Margrethe in 1967, Princess Benedikte in
1968 and Princess Anne-Marie in 1964.

This lovely family tradition was carried out in the next
generation, with Princess Benedikte's older daughter
Princess Alexandra zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
wearing the tiara in 1998, and Queen Anne-Marie of
Greece's Alexia wearing it in 1999. The two remaining
unmarried female descendants of Queen Ingrid are
Princess Theodora of Greece and Princess Nathalie zu
Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, so the tradition will

An engraving of the Khedive of Egypt tiara in the June 17,
1905 edition of the Illustrated London News. The tiara
could have also been worn as a corsage ornament, as shown