15 September 2014

Queen Paola's Half-Moon Earrings

Time again for another peep into the jewelry box of our Magpie of the Month, everyone! Today we're focusing on a pair of earrings that have been a part of Queen Paola's jewelry collection for years: her "half-moon" diamond and pearl studs.

Unlike most European queens, the royal consorts of Belgium have had relatively little jewelry at their disposal during their spouse's reigns. Because a queen consort isn't going to immediately receive a cache of jewels to wear at state functions, it's important that their personal jewels help to pull the weight of white-tie dress codes. Versatile pieces are key, and these earrings, combining pearls and diamonds, fit the bill.

The crescent-shaped earrings are made of a round central pearl, flanked on one side by a half-circle of diamond elements. The edge of each earring has a sunburst effect, with a tiny diamond fringe on its border.

In his book on the jewels of the Belgian royal ladies, Christophe Vachaudez posits that these earrings were given to Paola by her husband's stepmother, Princess Lilian, the second wife of King Leopold III. She's been wearing the earrings since the beginning of her marriage -- they're one of the jewelry pieces that has transitioned with her from the more mod styles of the 1960s to the present day.

Paola wore the half-moon earrings on two of the most important days of her life as a Belgian royal lady. Paola married Prince Albert, the second son of Leopold III, and she never expected to become queen consort. But when her brother-in-law, King Baudouin, died unexpectedly in 1993, Paola became the nation's queen.

She wore the earrings at Baudouin's funeral mass, and then donned them again at her husband's inauguration a few days later. You can just see the earring on Paola's ear at the left side of the photograph above, taken after Albert II's swearing-in ceremony.

During her husband's reign, Paola wore the half-moon earrings for both day and evening events. This is where the combination of stones is really key: the pearls set in the earrings make them more suitable for less-formal daywear, while the sparkling diamonds allow them to coordinate with the grandest of the jewels that Paola wore as queen.

You'll see photos of Paola wearing the earrings with suits during the day; you'll also see her wearing them with tiaras at royal galas, weddings, and state banquets. Above, Paola wears the earrings at the 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, pairing them with her own diamond bandeau and with the base of the Nine Provinces Tiara, worn as a choker necklace.

Albert and Paola have been keeping a fairly low profile since his abdication in 2013, and these earrings haven't had a significant outing since. I'm hoping we'll see them again soon, especially with Paola's chic new cropped hairstyle. Fingers crossed!