02 October 2014

Queen Ena's Aquamarines

Get excited, everyone: we've got a new Magpie of the Month, and it's a good one! Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, known better as Queen Ena, was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, the wife of King Alfonso XIII, and the grandmother of King Juan Carlos. With royal lineage like that, you can bet that she had some major jewelry! Today, we're starting off with her aquamarine jewels.

Queen Ena of Spain (source)

Born a Battenberg princess, Ena married Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1906. One of the pieces of jewelry that she received from her new husband after their marriage was a diamond tiara. It's been said that Ena saw a similar tiara and nudged Alfonso in the general direction of Ansorena, who made the tiara, which originally featured pearl drops. You can see the pearls in the portraits above and below.

Queen Ena of Spain (source)

But Ena's tastes eventually turned in a different direction: to aquamarines, specifically. She had the Ansorena tiara adapted to take a set of briolette aquamarine drops in place of the pearls. She paired the new version of the tiara with pieces of diamond and aquamarine jewelry in the art deco style: an enormous sautoir necklace with a staggeringly-large aquamarine pendant, a bracelet, a pair of earrings, a large brooch, and a ring. Ursula has large photos of the pieces on her site.

Ena passed the aquamarine set along to her daughter, Infanta Beatriz, who married Alessandro Torlonia, an Italian prince. But after years of wear, the Ansorena tiara was ultimately not strong enough to sustain the weight of the large aquamarine drops. Beatriz commissioned Bulgari to redesign the tiara. They created a new frame for the aquamarine drops, featuring a design of interlocking circles that echoes the Vladimir tiara from the British royal collection.

Beatriz's daughters, Sandra and Olimpia, have both worn parts of the aquamarine set over the years. (Some sources say she divided the parure between them.) But the most high-profile wearer of the jewels in recent years was Olimpia's daughter, Sibilla -- who just so happens to be married to Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg, a brother of Grand Duke Henri. Sibilla wore her great-grandmother Ena's aquamarines in October 2012 at the celebrations for the wedding of her nephew, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume. I love when the royals surprise us by wearing heirloom pieces when we least expect it!