31 July 2014

The Norwegian Diamond Pendant Earrings

To cap off our month-long foray into the jewelry collection of Queen Sonja of Norway, let's have a look at one of the sparkliest items in the royal vaults: the diamond earrings that Sonja often pairs with Queen Josefina's elaborate diamond tiara.

Like most of the heirloom pieces in the Norwegian royal collection, the earrings can be traced back to the United Kingdom, birthplace of Queen Maud. Norwegian royal historian Trond Noren Isaksen notes that the earrings "were originally pendants on a necklace worn by Queen Alexandra of Britain."

30 July 2014

Jewel History: The Royal Wedding (1889)

The Earl of Fife and Princess Louise of Wales on their wedding day (source)

"The Royal Wedding"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 28 Jul 1889)

LONDON, July 27 -- Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar, eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, was married at noon today to Alexander William George, Earl of Fife, Knight of the Thistle [1]. The weather was unpropitious, as rain was falling. The ceremony took place in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace. This was the first marriage that ever took place in the chapel, which is small, and the number of guests was therefore limited.

The bride and groom arrived privately. The Princess of Wales [2], the Crown Prince of Denmark [3], the King of Greece [4], Prince Albert Victor [5], and Prince George of Wales [6] assembled in the Bow Library of Buckingham Palace at 11:45 o'clock, and there awaited the arrival of the Queen [7] from her private apartments.

The Prince of Wales and Princess Louise on her wedding day (source)

The bridal party, consisting of the Prince of Wales, Princess Louise, and Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales [8], left Marlborough House, the residence of the Prince of Wales, at 11:40 o'clock for Buckingham palace. Notwithstanding the rain, the route to the palace was crowded with spectators. There was a vast concourse of people opposite the palace. The Prince of Wales was enthusiastically cheered.

29 July 2014

The Spencer Tiara

It may be Tuesday, but it's the perfect day to treat you all to an extra tiara post for the week! Thirty-three years ago today, Lady Diana Spencer arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral in London to marry the heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales. Perched atop her bridal veil (and her famous blonde 'do) was a tiara that belonged to her own family: the Spencers, an aristocratic English clan with a history that can be traced back for centuries.

Diana's bridal tiara has been in the Spencer family for nearly a century, though its creation story happens in bits and pieces. In 1919, the central part of the tiara was given as a wedding present to Lady Cynthia Hamilton, the new bride of Albert, Viscount Althorp (the future 7th Earl Spencer and grandfather of Lady Diana). The new viscountess received the tiara from another member of the family: Lady Sarah Spencer, the unmarried daughter of the 4th earl.

28 July 2014

Royal Wedding Jewels: François d'Orléans and Theresa von Einsiedel

On Saturday, the city of Straubing, Germany hosted a wedding between a prince of the former royal family of France and a descendant of several German royal houses.

Prince François d'Orléans (shown here wearing an ill-advised top hat) is the younger son of Prince Michel of Orléans, Comte d'Évreux and his estranged wife, Béatrice. He is a member of the House of Orléans, one of the royal houses that claims to be the rightful ruling dynasty of France via their descent from King Louis Philippe I of France. François's grandfather, Henri, was the Orléanist pretender to the throne until his death in 1999; his uncle, also named Henri, is the current claimant and uses the title "Comte de Paris." Through his paternal grandmother, François is also a descendant of the former imperial family of Brazil.

27 July 2014

Jewel Detective: Margaretha of Liechtenstein

Today's jewel challenge features a member of two reigning royal families: Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein, who was born a princess of Luxembourg and married Prince Nikolaus of Liechenstein (also pictured above). Can you identify the jewels that Margaretha wore during the grand ducal family's 2007 state visit to Belgium?

(As an extra Luxembourg/Liechtenstein-related treat today, hop over to Lux-arazzi to read an interview I did recently about royal blogging and royal jewels!)

26 July 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Sirikit's Fringe Tiara

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

We spend a lot of time talking about the longevity of monarchs like Queen Elizabeth II, but she's certainly not the only long-reigning sovereign around. Today, we're looking at a diamond fringe tiara that belongs to Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the longest-serving royal consort in the world. 

Queen Sirikit's husband, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, is currently the longest-serving head of state, having acceded to the throne in June 1946. The pair have been married for 64 years, so Sirikit's had quite a bit of experience with royal glitter.

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

I love when royals are inventive with their jewels, and Queen Sirikit's use of her gorgeous diamond fringe tiara definitely fits that bill. The tiara is designed in a traditional Russian style; most royal families have at least one of these tiaras, which are meant to resemble the kokoshnik headdresses worn by women in Russia. Over the years, the queen has worn the fringe both in that kokoshnik-esque halo form, stretching around her head, and bunched tightly atop her head like a crown, a traditional Thai way of wearing a diadem.

25 July 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: July 18-24

July 18-24, 2014

This week's jewelry recap sees our favorite royals in full summertime mode: gathering with their families, opening athletic competitions, and making trips to Paris. Ooh-la-la!

10. A match made in heaven: elegant Queen Letizia of Spain and the City of Light. Felipe and Letizia made an introductory visit to France this week, and Letizia accessorized her dress with a pair of gorgeous earrings. (See more pictures of the visit at The Royal Roundup!)

24 July 2014

The Top Ten: Ruby Tiaras

If you're a July baby, you know very well that your birthstone is one of the most striking precious gems around: the ruby. Rubies come in various shades of red, from fire engine to pink to nearly brown; they're most commonly found in Asian countries like Thailand and India, though some rubies have also been discovered in mines in North America, Africa, and Europe.

Today, we're combing through royal vaults to have a look at ten tiaras that feature rubies prominently in their designs. From heirlooms to modern pieces, rubies have been used in numerous styles in royal jewelry worn today. Which is your favorite royal ruby tiara?

10. The Niarchos Ruby Tiara

A single or double bandeau of rubies set in gold, this tiara belongs to Queen Sofia of Spain. Along with a suite of coordinating pieces, the tiara was given to the Greek-born princess as a wedding gift in 1962 by Stavros Niarchos, the famous Greek shipping magnate. The entire set was made by Van Cleef and Arpels.

23 July 2014

Queen Sonja's Pearl Drop Brooch

Queen Sonja of Norway's jewel box is full of suites and parures of coordinating jewels, but our Magpie of the Month also has some stunning individual pieces. One of these is today's piece of jewelry: Sonja's diamond and pearl drop brooch.

Queen Alexandra (source)

The original owner of the brooch was Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, who is the ancestor of Norway's present-day royals through her daughter, Queen Maud. In the portrait above, Alexandra wears the circular diamond brooch, with its pearl pendant, pinned to the left shoulder of her gown.

22 July 2014

Belgian National Day Jewels

Yesterday, the Belgian royals joined with their fellow citizens to celebrate the country's National Day, a festival which commemorates the day that King Leopold I swore allegiance to the new Belgian constitution way back in 1831. Let's have a look at the jewels that Queen Mathilde and the other ladies of the Belgian royal family wore to celebrate, shall we?

At the Bal National, an outdoor concert event held on the eve of National Day, Queen Mathilde went for the gold -- jewelry, that is. Her chunky gold earrings somehow manage to be modern and traditional at the same time, but she's also added an ultra-mod gold cuff bracelet. (Also, I've seen some say that this dress is very Queen Letizia, and I agree -- and I like it on both of them!

21 July 2014

Review: The Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court (2013)

(image via Amazon.com)

A few weeks ago, I tweeted a photo of the cover of the book I'd just received in the mail -- today's royal jewelry book, Stefano Papi's The Jewels of the Romanovs: Family and Court -- and asked if anyone would like to read a review of it. The response was swift: those of you who follow me on Twitter were as excited about the book as I was. (Not following me on Twitter? Head over here!) I've been slowly working my way through the book ever since, and I'm pleased to say that this one's a winner for me.

Alexandra Feodorovna, the last tsarina of Russia

As the title suggests, Papi's book covers jewels worn by members of the Russian imperial family and by the aristocrats who inhabited the rarified world of their court. The version of the book that I'm reviewing is the second edition, published last October; a previous edition was released in 2010. The second edition advertises that it is "revised and expanded"; I do not have the first edition in my library, so I can't comment on what specific changes were made between the two. But I can say this: the second edition of the book is glossy, voluminous, and packed with rare photographs of the Romanovs and their treasures.

20 July 2014

Jewel Detective: Noor of Jordan

Can you identify the jewels worn by Queen Noor of Jordan at a Guildhall dinner in 1996 marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II?

19 July 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Alexandra Feodorovna's Emerald Tiara

Detail of Bodarevsky's 1907 portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna (source)

This July marks the 96th anniversary of the assassination of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his family. In the century that has nearly passed since their deaths, the court of the tragic Romanovs has become the stuff of history and legend, and the jewels that adorned the Romanova women have become objects of significant fascination. Today, we're looking at an emerald tiara that was created for the country's last empress: Alexandra Feodorovna.

The tiara, pictured in Fersman's Russian jewel catalogue (source)

The emerald and diamond tiara was part of a larger parure that Alix ordered from a pair of famous Russian jewelers -- Bolin and Faberge -- in 1900. Sophia Schwan, a jeweler working for Bolin, was responsible for creating the parure's tiara and necklace, while Oscar Piel, working for Fabergé, made a large coordinating devant-de-corsage. The tiara is also sometimes referred to as a "coronet" or a "circlet," because it piece forms a complete circle. In Jewels of the Romanovs, Stefano Papi notes that the tiara and necklace were "made in great haste" by Schwan, but doesn't clarify the reasons why.

18 July 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: July 11-17

July 11-17, 2014

Time for another week's worth of royal glitter! This week, we feature a first meeting between two royal spouses, plus a first official engagement for a princess-to-be. Enjoy!

10. Crown Princess Victoria celebrated her birthday on Monday at the Swedish family's summer residence in Oland. For the family's traditional morning appearance outside their Solliden home, Victoria wore pearl earrings. She also donned necklaces given to her by local children as she greeted Swedes in the gathered crowd.

17 July 2014

Redesign It: Queen Elizabeth II's Belgian Sapphire Tiara

Time for another chance for you to play court jeweller, magpies! Today, our jewel in question is the sapphire tiara that Queen Elizabeth II acquired in the 1960s to coordinate with a demi-parure of Victorian sapphire jewels given to her by her father, King George VI. The tiara is a converted necklace; the piece once belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium, who married a Saxe-Coburg and Gotha prince.

If you had a chance to make changes to this tiara, what would you do?

16 July 2014

Queen Sonja's Amethysts

We've had a look at two of the modern sets of jewelry owned by our Magpie of the Month, Queen Sonja of Norway, and today, we're shining the spotlight on a third. But while the first two sets are extremely modern in execution, the third set, her amethyst parure, has echoes of heirloom pieces in its design.

Queen Sonja of Norway

The amethyst and diamond parure was a gift to Queen Sonja from her husband, King Harald V of Norway. The set consists of several pieces: a convertible necklace/tiara, a pair of earrings with removable drops, two bracelets that can be combined and worn together as a second necklace, and a brooch that can also be attached as a part of the bracelet-necklace. Harald clearly values versatility in the jewelry sets that he gifts to his wife!

15 July 2014

On the Block: Royal and Noble Jewels at Sotheby's

It's that time again, magpies: my own personal Christmas list, the jewelry sale catalogue from Sotheby's, has landed. Tomorrow, the auction house will offer two sessions of fine jewels in London, and there are some intriguing pieces attributed to royals and nobles among the lots. Enjoy a bit of sparkly dreaming -- or, for the secret millionaires lurking among you readers, get out your credit card and get bidding!

Okay, so they're not those coronation jewels -- economic times aren't quite that hard in Britain. But Sotheby's is auctioning off paste reproductions of three of pieces of jewelry central to British coronations: St. Edward's Crown, Queen Victoria's coronation ring, and Queen Mary's crown. Curiously, the catalogue does not explain exactly why these replicas were made (or who is selling them), although it does note that all three pieces date to the 1950s and that several sets of replicas of the regalia were made to be exhibited throughout the Commonwealth. Auction estimate for the three pieces is set at between $4,000 and $8,000.

14 July 2014

Birthday Jewels: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden

Happy Victoriadagen, everyone! Today, Sweden celebrates the 37th birthday of their future queen, Crown Princess Victoria. To join in the celebrations, we're adding a bit of sparkle here, looking at the tiaras that Victoria has worn so far at gala celebrations in Sweden and abroad. Enjoy!

Prince Joachim of Denmark's wedding, 18 November 1995

Victoria's Birthday Tiara

Scandinavian princesses are traditionally given their first tiara on their eighteenth birthdays. Victoria's first tiara was a small sparkler made of diamonds and sapphires. She wore it frequently at gala events when she was still a teenager, including at the first wedding of Prince Joachim of Denmark and at the celebrations for her father's 50th birthday. She has since moved on to more substantial tiaras, and this one hasn't been seen in public since 2007.

13 July 2014

Jewel Detective: Marie José of Belgium

Can you identify the jewels worn by Marie José of Belgium, pictured here in 1939 as Crown Princess of Italy?

12 July 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Luxembourg Vine Leaves Tiara

Today, the grand ducal family of Luxembourg will gather for the christening of their newest member: Princess Amalia of Nassau, the daughter of Prince Felix and Princess Claire. What better day, then, to have a look at the lovely diamond tiara that Princess Claire wore on her wedding day last year? When Claire Lademacher married Prince Félix, she got her first crack at the family’s vast collection of tiaras, and the one she chose was today’s sparkler: the larger of the family's two floral tiaras.

Princess Claire of Luxembourg

As the lovely ladies over at Luxarazzi have observed, this tiara is “floral” largely because it includes natural elements and not because it specifically includes flowers in the design; we learned during Felix and Claire's wedding festivities that the family refers to the piece as the “vine leaves” tiara. The all-diamond sparkler, set in yellow gold and silver, includes leaf and berry motifs.

11 July 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: July 4-10

July 4-10, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy a week's worth of bling from Europe's sparkliest royals!

10. During the men's final at Wimbledon on Sunday, the exciting play between Federer and Djokovic provided the Duchess of Cambridge with lots of opportunities to show off her engagement ring and her Cartier watch.

10 July 2014

Queen Sonja's Emeralds

We've talked quite a bit about the magnificent nineteenth-century parure of emerald and diamond jewels owned today by the Norwegian royal family. That set, which includes a striking tiara with a geometric design, is worn quite often by Queen Sonja of Norway at gala events. But that's not the only set of emerald jewelry that our Magpie of the Month wears. She also has a smaller demi-parure of emerald and diamond jewelry.

The first public appearance of this modern jewelry set seems to have been at the gala event held in Trondheim on the night before Princess Martha Louise's wedding in 2002. Sonja paired the necklace and earrings with a mint green gown with bright pink accents.

09 July 2014

Royal Jewel Rewind: Princess Alexia's Wedding (1999)

Fifteen years ago in Britain, the Earl and Countess of Wessex weren't the only royals getting hitched. Another even bigger royal wedding was held a few weeks later, and even though its bride was a princess of a country that no longer had a monarchy, the nuptials were far grander and glittering even than that of the Queen's youngest son.

Princess Alexia and her father, King Constantine II

Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark is the eldest child of King Constantine II of Greece, the last Greek monarch, and Queen Anne-Marie, who was born a princess of Denmark. Alexia was born in Corfu, in the same house, Mon Repos, where the Duke of Edinburgh had been born on the kitchen table decades earlier. The Greek royal family left Alexia's native country in 1967 after a military coup. They eventually settled in England, where the king had a number of cousins (including the queen's husband). Both of the king's eldest children's marriages took place in London.

08 July 2014

Jewel Detective: The Duchess of Gloucester

Can you identify the jewels worn here by the current Duchess of Gloucester, photographed in 1989 (on the occasion of her 17th wedding anniversary) at Kensington Palace?

07 July 2014

Jewel History: "England's Royal Wedding" (1893)

"England's Royal Wedding"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 7 Jul 1893)

London, July 6 -- The marriage of the Duke of York (Prince George of Wales) and Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, an event to which all England had been looking forward with deep interest, took place at 12:30 o'clock today in the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. The wedding was a brilliant function, and was attended by a large gathering of the members of the British royal family, continental sovereigns or their representatives, and many members of the highest nobility.

The weather was beautiful. The occasion was made one of national rejoicing and a partial British holiday. Great crowds of people gathered along the line of the route from Buckingham Palace, up Constitution Hill, through Piccadilly, St. James's Street, and Marlborough Gate to the garden entrance of St. James's Palace, which is on the north side of the Mall. The decorations along the line of the royal procession were profuse and beautiful. The roadway was kept open by the Household troops in their glittering uniforms, by detachments drawn from the military depots, by the Metropolitan Volunteers and militia, by Middlesex Yeomanry, and by the police.

The scene was full of life and movement, and the ceremony eclipsed in pomp and splendor any recent state ceremonial in connection with the British court.

Mary of Teck with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Teck

The royal party left Buckingham Palace in four processions, the first conveying the members of the household and distinguished guests. The next included the Duke of York and his supporters, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of Edinburgh. The bride came in the third procession, accompanied by her father, the Duke of Teck, and her brother, Prince Adolphus of Teck. The last procession was that of the Queen, who, accompanied by the Duchess of Teck, her younger sons, and the Grand Duke of Hesse, drove in state to the ceremonial.

06 July 2014

Belgian Royal Wedding Jewels

Yesterday in Rome, Prince Amedeo of Belgium married his longtime girlfriend, Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein. Amedeo is the son of Princess Astrid of Belgium (daughter of King Albert II and Queen Paola) and her husband, Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este. Lili, as the bride is known, is the daughter of Ettore Rosboch von Wolkenstein and Countess Lilia de Smecchia.

Although Lili is related to several Italian noble families, she chose to borrow a bridal tiara from her new husband's grandmother. The diamond tiara, made in the Art Deco style, originally belonged to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. She passed the tiara along to her daughter-in-law, Queen Astrid; after Astrid's death, it was worn by King Leopold III's second wife, Princess Lilian. Queen Paola, who now owns the tiara, began wearing it in the 1960s. And this isn't the first time it's been used as a bridal tiara.

05 July 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Savoy-Aosta Tiara

Prince Amedeo of Belgium and Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein

Today in Rome, the world of European royalty is gaining a brand-new member. Prince Amedeo of Belgium, the nephew of the king, will marry his longtime girlfriend, Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein. But Amedeo isn't just the son of a Belgian princess; his father, Prince Lorenz, is also the Archduke of Austria-Este, making him a member of the Italian branch of the Habsburg dynasty. And Amedeo's royal ancestry goes even further than that, because Lorenz's mother, Princess Margherita, was born a princess from the House of Savoy.

Princess Astrid at the state banquet for the President of Hungary in 2008

Today, we're looking at the Savoy tiara that Amedeo's mother, Princess Astrid, wears regularly at white-tie events. If I were a betting woman, and you all know that I am, I'd wager that if Lili chooses to wear a tiara on her wedding day, this might be the one: the diamond floral Savoy-Aosta tiara.

04 July 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: June 27 - July 3

June 27 - July 3, 2014

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans, and happy summer Friday to readers all over! Here's a bit of royal sparkle to help you gear up for your weekend...

10. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands has been on a trip to India this week; in Mumbai on Wednesday, she wore a stunning pair of sparkling blue earrings. The bracelet on her left wrist, worn just below her watch, is the one that features three diamond letter As and a diamond letter M, interspersed with diamond hearts and a diamond "evil eye." She's been wearing it since last year, and there's speculation that it was a gift from the king.

03 July 2014

Queen Sonja's Modern Gold Parure

It's a new month, which means it's time for a new Magpie of the Month here at The Court Jeweller! This July, we're peeking into the jewelry box of Queen Sonja of Norway, who (along with America!) celebrates her birthday tomorrow. And today, we're starting our month of Sonja with one of the most interesting and divisive sets of jewelry in her collection: her modern gold parure.

The modern gold set is one of the newest additions to the Norwegian royal collection, and it certainly lives up to its name. It's been likened to costume jewelry from a science fiction film, or something unearthed from the vaults of a long-forgotten warrior queen. But for Sonja, this parure has more sentimental value: it was a present from King Harald V to Queen Sonja to mark her sixtieth birthday in 1997.

02 July 2014

The Order of Leopold

King Leopold I of Belgium (ca. 1845)

As far as royal families go, Belgium's is fairly new. The nation has only been an independent country since 1830, and because there was no previous Belgian royal family from which to choose a monarch, a member of a German princely family was selected as the country's first king.

King Albert II wears the Order of Leopold (2005)

King Leopold I was born Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was the uncle of Britain's Prince Albert (and of Queen Victoria, too). For a time, he'd also been expected to become the prince consort in Britain; his first wife was Princess Charlotte, the only child of King George IV. She died, along with the couple's only child, in 1817. In the ensuing years, he turned down the offer of the Greek throne before finally consenting to become the first King of the Belgians.

01 July 2014

Jewel Detective: Paola of Belgium and Sonja of Norway

Can you identify the jewels worn by Queen Paola of Belgium and Queen Sonja of Norway during a 2003 state banquet at the Palace of Laeken?