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Jeweller Kochert and originally made for the Archduchess Henriette,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

Thursday, March 02, 2006


And no, I don't mean the Scottish chicken, leek and prune soup,
but rather a sighting of the Duchess of Cornwall wearing a "new"
brooch. Here she is wearing a rather large diamond and emerald
brooch with an emerald cabachon drop at the pre-opera reception
at the National Assembly of Wales in Cardiff on March 1, 2006.

It turns out to be the Ladies of North Wales Brooch, given to
the future Queen Alexandra and later inherited by the late
Queen Mother. Several sharp fans of royal jewelry sniffed
out the tantalizing photos and details on the GREMB.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother wore the brooch to
Prince Charles' investiture as the Prince of Wales in 1969.

A Feast of Fringes

Of all the popular tiara designs the most prolific is the fringe.
Also known as the sunray, the fringe tiara probably had its roots
back in Ancient Greece where kings and priest wore gold crowns
shaped like the rays of the sun to denote their divinity or
special affinity with the solar deity.

The typical design for a fringe tiara consists of spiked
bars of graduate size, divided with bee-like barbs.
Examples of this design:

Left: Hanover fringe tiara (Great Britain)
Center: Princess Mary's fringe tiara
Right: Habsburg fringe tiara (Liechtenstein)

More fringes:
Left: Thai fringe tiara
Center: Greek fringe tiara
Right: Archduchess Gabrielle's fringe tiara

Besides being the most common, fringe tiaras are also versatile -
transforming from tiara to necklace to corsage ornament to belt.
Left: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wearing the Baden fringe
Center: Princess Charlotte of Monaco wearing a diamond fringe
Right: Mecklenburg-Schwerin fringe tiara

It was customary for brides of the Russian Imperial Family
to receive a fringe tiara as a wedding gift. Known as a
kokoshnik, meaning a cockscomb, the design was adapted from
the costume of a Russian peasant girl.

Left: Empress Marie Feodorovna
Center: Queen Alexandrine of Denmark wearing a Russian fringe
Right: Queen Alexandra wearing her 25th wedding anniversary gift

Fringe derivatives:
Left: Queen Mary wearing the Surrey fringe
Center: Duchess of Kent
Right: Princess Madeleine of Sweden

More fringe derivatives:
Left: Queen Noor of Jordan
Center: Queen Rania of Jordan
Right: Empress Michiko of Japan