31 December 2014

The Top Ten: Royal Jewel Moments of 2014

Happy New Year, everybody! As the world counts down to 2015, it's time for our last Top Ten post of the year. Here are my top ten royal jewel moments of 2014 -- be sure to add your lists in the comments!

10. Kate's New Emeralds
The Duchess of Cambridge surprised royal jewel lovers when she debuted a new emerald and diamond demi-parure during her visit to New York. The set, which includes earrings and a bracelet, features square-cut emeralds and yellow and white diamonds.

Year in Review: The Tiaras of 2014

It's that time of year again, everyone -- break out the champagne and settle in for yet another year in review post! Let's make our new year extra sparkly by having a look at some of the tiaras worn by royal ladies in 2014, shall we?

The Danish Emerald Parure Tiara
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, New Year's Levée

30 December 2014

Queen Elizabeth II: A Year in New Brooches

2014 has been quite a year for royal jewels, but no single royal has offered more surprises on the jewel front than Queen Elizabeth II. While she stuck to her usual favorites for major gala appearances, her daily wardrobe of brooches expanded significantly -- thanks, I think, to Angela Kelly's guidance and to the influx of gifts following the Diamond Jubilee. Here are ten (seriously, ten!) brooches we saw HM wear for the first time this year.

The Romanov Sapphire Brooch
In April, HM debuted a stunning treasure during her first meeting with Pope Francis: a brooch made of a sapphire ringed with gold and diamonds. The piece was purchased by Queen Mary in 1934; it's said to have belonged to Empress Marie Feodorovna.

29 December 2014

Jewel History: Princess's Jewels Held (1902)

Luise, Crown Princess of Saxony (source)

"Princess's Jewels Held"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 30 Dec 1902)

LONDON, Dec. 29 -- Facts concerning the jewels of the Crown Princess of Saxony [1], the whereabouts of which were in doubt, are told by The Times's correspondent in Brussels. Professor Giron, former tutor of the Princess's children and now her companion in Geneva [2], sent them to that city for safekeeping.

The packet arrived at Brussels a few days ago, addressed to Giron's brother, who is a resident of the city. The usual advice was sent by the customs officials to the brother. As the packet was insured for 800,000 francs, and its contents carried a heavy duty, the brother refused to accept it and pay the necessary amount.

King Friedrich August III of Saxony (source)

The authorities in the ordinary course of business should have returned the parcel to the sender. This has not been done. The inference is that the German government has been apprised of the presence of the jewels in the Custom House and has taken steps to confiscate them in the interest of the Crown Prince of Saxony [3].

28 December 2014

Jewel Detective: Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Can you identify the jewels worn here by the Queen Mother at the Royal Festival Hall in October 1960?

27 December 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Wolfers Tiara

The Belgians may not have extensive jewel vaults, but there are tiaras in the royal family’s possession that are reserved primarily for queens. The main one is the Nine Provinces Tiara, but there are two tiaras that were owned and have only been worn by one queen: the late Queen Fabiola. We’ve already talked about her Spanish tiara; today, let’s have a look at the one created for her by a Belgian jeweler, Wolfers.

Like Fabiola’s other personal tiara, this piece was one of her wedding presents. It was given to her on behalf of the brokers and jewelers of the diamond industry in Antwerp. The diamond tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, was crafted on their behalf by Wolfers, a company that had been making jewelry in Belgium for more than a century. The piece is small but versatile, and it’s not lacking in glitter, as it’s packed with more than 200 diamonds.

26 December 2014

Royal Christmas Jewels 2014

Today, we're postponing our usual weekly jewel roundup to look at the jewels worn by the Windsors at Sandringham this Christmas. Stay tuned next Friday for a super-sized edition of This Week in Royal Jewels!

Christmas morning means a special treat for British royal watchers, as the royal family attends morning services at King's Lynn near the Sandringham Estate. HM wore a vibrant pink coat and hat to church, along with her usual daytime pearls. On her coat she pinned the Tudor Rose Brooch, a piece she's been wearing with some regularity since 2012. Some think it might have been a Diamond Jubilee gift.

25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, readers! I hope all of you are having a joyous holiday season this year. Today, I'm taking some time to enjoy the day with my family -- although I did manage to sneak in a guest post over at my friend Deanna Raybourn's blog. If you've not read her books, I'd highly recommend treating yourself to one as a Christmas present! May I suggest Silent in the Grave as a starter?

I'll be back here tomorrow with a post on the jewels worn by the royals this Christmas. In the meantime, here are some links for you to enjoy...

Thanks a million to all of you for reading this year -- knowing that you've been enjoying each post makes all of my days, holiday or not, so much brighter. I can't wait to share even more bejeweled surprises with you in the year to come!

24 December 2014

Suggestions for Santa: Jewel Gifts for Royal Ladies

Santa has popped up in Monaco, which means that Christmas is officially upon us, everybody! For this Christmas Eve post, I'm summoning up all my clairvoyant powers and predicting which jewels certain royal ladies might receive from St. Nick. Or perhaps we could view this as suggestions for any royal spouses who still need to finish their shopping?

The Duchess of Cornwall has showed us that she can seriously rock a sapphire, such as the large sapphire and diamond pendant she wears above. And if you ask me, one thing her collection could use is another large tiara. So I'm hoping Santa brings her...

23 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Van Cleef & Arpels

Time for our final Holiday Wishlist of 2014! If you've missed any of this month's wishlist posts, you can find all of them here!

Holiday Wishlist: Van Cleef & Arpels

We're wrapping up our series of holiday wishlists with yet another major name in royal jewelry: Van Cleef & Arpels. The firm is headquartered on the jewel-rich Place Vendôme in Paris, but they sell their jewelry and watches all over the world. Here are five of my favorite pieces from their current collections...

The Magic Alhambra Earclips take one of the company's iconic designs and triples it in white gold and diamonds. ($48,000)

Birthday Jewels: Queen Silvia of Sweden

Happy birthday to Queen Silvia of Sweden! Silvia, who turns 71 today, is the longest-serving Swedish queen, so she has had more than a few opportunity to wear pieces from the family's immense collection of royal jewels. To celebrate her birthday, let's look at some of her most glittering appearances during her tenure as the country's queen.

Cameos at her wedding (June 1976)

22 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Chaumet

Holiday Wishlist: Chaumet

From Romanov tiaras to French imperial jewels, the House of Chaumet has been an important part of the royal jewel landscape for two centuries. The firm was founded by Marie-Étienne Nitot, later Napoleon's court jeweler, in 1780, and they've been making remarkable jewels ever since from their atelier in the Place Vendôme in Paris. Here are five of my favorite pieces from their current collections...

The Joséphine Tiara Ring is a tribute to one of the firm's first major customers, Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon. Made of platinum and set with diamonds, the ring echoes the shape of a tiara in miniature. (Price on request)

Princess Alexandra's Emeralds

When Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent decided how to divvy up her jewels in her will, she followed an old-fashioned royal principle: give the jewels to your sons so that their wives can wear them. Where daughters are concerned, it's their husbands' families who are responsible, then, for bejeweling them. Because of this, our Magpie of the Month, Marina's daughter Alexandra, doesn't have many Kent heirloom jewels in her possession.

Instead, she has smaller collections of gems, probably acquired at some point during her marriage to Sir Angus Ogilvy. Today, we're chatting about her diamond and emerald jewelry, a collection of various pieces that she wears at both day and evening events.

21 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Boucheron

Holiday Wishlist: Boucheron

Founded in 1858, Boucheron has been providing jewels for queens, empresses, and princesses around the world for more than a century. From their famed headquarters in the Place Vendôme in Paris, the company has created jewels worn today by the likes of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and the Duchess of Cornwall. They're still making new pieces today; here are five of my favorites from their current collections...

The immense quality of Boucheron's craftsmanship is apparent in the Delilah Necklace, which is made of gold pleated so carefully that it looks like fabric. The piece can also be worn as a hair ornament, and it's set with diamonds at each end. (Price on request)

Jewel Detective: Princess Marie Bonaparte


Can you identify the jewels worn here ca. 1907 by Princess Marie Bonaparte, wife of Prince George of Greece and Denmark?

20 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Garrard

Holiday Wishlist: Garrard

When you think of British royal jewelry, one name immediately comes to mind: Garrard. In business since the eighteenth century, the firm has made jewels for generations of the British royal family, from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria to the present Queen. The company is still designing and making jewelry, and here are five of my favorite pieces from their current collections...

The white gold and diamond Tudor Rose Earrings feature delicate versions of the classic English royal symbol, but with diamond drops for added effect. (Price on request)

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Dagmar's Floral Tiara

Since she officially became an HRH in 2008, Princess Marie of Denmark has worn precisely two tiaras. While she debuted the silver and amethyst Flora Danica Tiara earlier this year, today's tiara, a diamond floral piece that has been in the family for several generations, is still the workhorse of her collection. From her wedding to the annual Danish New Year’s Courts to family celebrations, it’s been all floral all the time for Princess Marie.

Princess Dagmar of Denmark, ca. 1921 (source)

The tiara’s first wearer was also a Danish princess: Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the daughter of King Frederik VIII. Dagmar’s siblings included King Christian X of Denmark, King Haakon VI of Norway, and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden — so you know she needed a tiara for all sorts of royal events.

19 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Mouawad

Holiday Wishlist: Mouawad

Founded in Beirut more than a century ago, Mouawad is currently being run by a fourth generation of the family whose name the company bears. With headquarters in Switzerland and Dubai, Mouawad makes sparkling jewels and timepieces for luxury clients, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who has a diamond and ruby demi-parure from the brand. Here are five of my favorite pieces from the company's current collections...

The Larme D'Amour Earrings feature dreamy pavé-set blue sapphires and diamonds in white gold. (Price by appointment)

This Week in Royal Jewels: December 12-18

December 12-18, 2014

This week's jewel roundup is full of happy holiday gatherings and bittersweet farewells. Be sure to cast your vote for your favorite jewels of the week in the poll at the bottom of the post!

10. Royals from all over the world gathered in Belgium on Friday to say goodbye to Queen Fabiola. The late queen's niece, Princess Astrid, wore a striking pair of sparkling earrings to the service, which was equal parts somber and hopeful.

18 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Chopard

Holiday Wishlist: Chopard

Founded in Switzerland in 1860, Chopard has become one of the most well-known names around the world for fine jewelry and timepieces. With boutiques around the globe, the company is still producing amazing watches and jewels for their clientele. Here are five of my favorite pieces from their current collections...

Floral and feminine, the Imperiale Pendant is a rose gold and amethyst beauty. ($4,160)

Jewel History: Egyptian Jewels in Art Museum (1919)

Gold, carnelian, and turquoise broad bracelet of Sithathoriunet from the Met collection [1]

"Egyptian Jewels in Art Museum"
(originally appeared in the New York Times, 19 Dec 1919)

There was placed on exhibition in the Recent Accessions Room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday one of the greatest finds of Egyptian antiquities that has ever come out of that country [2] -- magnificent jewelry of a princess of the Twelfth Dynasty, dating back nearly as many years B.C. as the present century is after Christ. Archaeologists have been searching for treasure of this period for many years, and this wonderful collection was found in a concealed niche in a tomb which had been robbed some hundreds of years before, and even the mummy taken from the great stone sarcophagus.

Diadem of Sithathoriunut from the Cairo Museum collection (source)

It was from the tomb of the Princess Sithathoriunut, supposed to be the daughter of King Senusret II of the Twelfth Dynasty, who reigned from 1906 to 1887 B.C. [3] and near whose pyramid at Lahun she was buried. Two wonderful pieces, a diadem and a mirror, were taken by the Cairo Museum in the customary practice with that museum of division of articles found in excavation. All the jewels are made of gold of the greatest purity, with almost no alloy, combined with stones -- carnelian, turquoise, green feldspar -- and two necklaces are of amethyst beads. In one of these, to clasp closely around the throat, the amethysts are combined with gold beads, and there are two lion-claw pendants of gold. The other is much longer, and the beads of both are of a deep shade of amethyst.

17 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Heavenly Necklaces

Holiday Wishlist: Heavenly Necklaces

While we've spotlighted some truly magnificent jewelry here in the past few weeks -- and will showcase more in the coming days -- let's face it: most of us are never going to be able to afford such incredible splendor. For us, the "fab fakes" made by Belinda Hadden's Heavenly Necklaces provide sparkle at a much more affordable price point. And it's not as if we mere mortals are the only ones wearing these costume pieces, as both the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cambridge have been spotted in Heavenly Necklaces pieces. Here are five of my favorite items from their current collections...

The Solitaire Drop Earrings have enough sparkle for an evening out, but they'd also be perfect for adding an extra bit of glamour to your everyday ensembles. (£46)

The Order of the Seraphim

Each time the Swedish royals have appeared this month in their glittering finery, they've also been wearing the light blue sash of the nation's highest-ranking order of chivalry, the Royal Order of the Seraphim.

King Fredrik I of Sweden (source)

The current incarnation of the order was established in 1748 by King Fredrik I of Sweden. The announcement of the order declared that it was a revival of an older order of chivalry using the same name, but to my knowledge, there's never been a clear connection to any earlier order of Swedish chivalry called the "Order of the Seraphim," so that may have simply been a way to try to assert the order's historical legitimacy. Either way, King Fredrik is still remembered on the insignia of the order used today, which bears the initials FRS, for "Frederik, King (Rex) of Sweden" on the reverse side of the medallion.

16 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Tiffany & Co.

Holiday Wishlist: Tiffany & Co.

With their famous blue boxes and a starring role in an Audrey Hepburn film, Tiffany & Co. has been a household name in jewelry for nearly two centuries. Headquartered in New York, the company sells jewels and other luxury goods around the world. Here are five of my favorite pieces from their current catalogue...

The Five Leaves Clip is one of the company's classic collaborations with designer Jean Schlumberger; its mix of gold, platinum, and diamonds keeps the brooch fresh and interesting. ($22,000)

Princess Alexandra's Diamond Choker Necklace

Princess Alexandra, our Magpie of the Month, prefers to wear choker necklaces that sit close to the throat. You'll see her most often wearing a pearl choker with a diamond-shaped clasp, but she does have other necklaces in her collection, including today's piece.

The necklace is intricate and appears to be primarily set with diamonds, though good close-ups are elusive; from some angles, I think I can see pearls in the setting as well. (That is, of course, if it's not costume jewelry -- but Alexandra's pieces mainly seem to be the real deal.) To my knowledge, this necklace hasn't been discussed much, and I don't know its provenance. However, I do know that photographs show Alexandra wearing it for at least the past twenty years. The image at the top of this post shows her wearing the necklace at a gala event in January 1995.

15 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Mappin & Webb

Holiday Wishlist: Mappin & Webb

Although the story of Mappin & Webb begins in the shop of a silversmith working during the reign of King George III, the jewelry produced by the company is still being worn by royals today. Today, the firm is headquartered in London, and their work has been honored with a pair of royal warrants. Here are five of my favorite pieces from the company's current collections...

Inspired by jewelry made by the firm a century ago for the Siamese royal family, the Empress White Gold and Diamond Cuff Bracelet is royal elegance to the extreme. (£33,750)

Redesign It: The Wessex Wedding Tiara

Time to tap into your inner court jeweler, everyone! On her wedding day, Sophie Rhys-Jones wore a new diamond tiara, given to her by the Queen. Although it's never been confirmed, most believe the piece was cobbled together using spare elements from a circlet that belonged to Queen Victoria. If you could make changes to this tiara, what would you do?

14 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Swarovski

Holiday Wishlist: Swarovski

If your heart is sparkly but your wallet is modest, the crystal jewelry made by Swarovski may be just the thing for you. Headquartered in Austria, the company has been making gorgeous jewelry and art objects for more than a century. Here are five of my favorite pieces from the brand's current collections...

If the gorgeous heirloom brooches worn by Elizabeth II are just your style, the Brazil Brooch, which features green and white crystals to mimic the sparkle of diamonds and emeralds, would be a perfect addition to your collection. ($125)

Jewel Detective: The Duchess of Kent

Can you identify the jewels worn by the Duchess of Kent at a Guildhall banquet in May 1995?

13 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Kate Spade

Holiday Wishlist: Kate Spade

If the Duchess of Cambridge were an American princess, I have no doubt that we'd be seeing her in pieces from Kate Spade, a retailer that features fun twists on classic shapes and designs for the young and the young at heart. While they're perhaps best known for their handbags, the company also makes jewelry. Here are five of my favorite pieces currently for sale...

Love the modern fringe necklaces worn by the Swedish royal ladies? The Meteor Shower Statement Necklace is an equally fun take on the classic fringe design. ($498)

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Grace's Diamond Tiara

If you've been paying attention to your royal news this week, you'll already know that the Monegasque princely family has added two brand-new members. Princess Charlene gave birth on Wednesday to Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Although he is younger by two minutes, Jacques becomes Monaco's hereditary prince. As a consolation prize, I'm hopeful that his sister will get to wear some of the family's glamorous jewels -- perhaps today's tiara, which belonged to her grandmother?

Although Princess Grace wore a number of tiaras during her lifetime, most of them were actually loans. Her personal collection seems to have consisted of precisely two pieces: the convertible diamond and ruby tiara given to her by the Société des Bains de Mer, and today's tiara, which the family apparently refers to simply as her "diamond tiara."

12 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Cartier

Holiday Wishlist: Cartier

What can I say that you don't already know about Cartier? The name is synonymous with some of the most glamorous and glittering jewelry ever made, and the collections of royals around the world are stocked with Cartier pieces. Just in case you've got a LOT (a LOT) of holiday money lying round, here are five of my favorite pieces from the house's current collections.

Part of the Flora and Fauna collection, the Parrot Motif Brooch features sapphires, diamonds, mother-of-pearl, and a single emerald set in yellow gold. Fancy and fun! ($44,200)

This Week in Royal Jewels: December 5-11

December 5-11, 2014

Galas, galas, and more galas this week! Enjoy!

10. Kate's new emerald demi-parure wasn't the only surprise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gala -- Princess Eugenie, who lives in New York, dropped by the party wearing a pair of gold earrings with her gown.

11 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Marianne Dulong

Holiday Wishlists: Marianne Dulong

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark's personal jewel collection is filled with a variety of treasures, from heirloom rubies to brand-new pieces. One of her go-to jewelers for new additions to her jewelry box is Marianne Dulong. Here are five of my favorite pieces from Dulong's current collections!

Made of white gold, the Butterfly Earrings manage somehow to be delicate and statement-making at the same time. ($1,024)

Nobel Prize Jewels 2014

The Swedish royal family was out in force for the presentation of this year's Nobel Prizes in Stockholm on Wednesday. Let's have a look at the plentiful jewels, shall we?

Queen Silvia wore a set we've chatted quite a bit about lately: the Leuchtenberg Sapphires. (Much more on the historic parure here!)

10 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Claudia Bradby Jewellery

Holiday Wishlist: Claudia Bradby Jewellery

Living in Hong Kong inspired jewelry designer Claudia Bradby to focus her work on pearls. From necklaces and bracelets to pendants and earrings, pearls are still a major theme in Claudia's collections today. If you're a royal watcher, you'll probably recognize her not only for her jewelry but also for her links to the Duchess of Cambridge, who worked with Bradby to design a piece for Jigsaw. (And then there's also another connection: Tom, Claudia's husband, was the journalist who conducted William and Kate's engagement interview.) Here are five of my favorite pearly pieces from Claudia's current collections...

Named for one of the most famous royal pearls of all time, the Peregrina Pearl Pendant features a lovely cultured pearl drop suspended from a silver chain. (£82.50)

New Emeralds for Kate

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in New York this week, and last night they attended a gala dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in celebration of the 600th anniversary of the University of St. Andrews.

William and Kate both graduated from St. Andrews, which is also where they met and started their relationship more than a decade ago. Any event related to the university, then, is clearly close to both their hearts, and Kate took the opportunity to debut a brand-new set of jewelry at the gala.

09 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Kiki McDonough

An especially timely holiday wishlist today, as the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing earrings from this designer as we speak...

The Duchess of Cambridge wears Kiki McDonough earrings today in New York

Holiday Wishlist: Kiki McDonough

When the Duchess of Cambridge starts wearing your jewelry, you know you're going to hit the big time. Prince William has reportedly gifted pieces of Kiki McDonough's jewelry to his wife, who favors the brand's earrings. McDonough has been creating jewelry for twenty-five years, and her designs feature classic lines and bright colors. Here are five of my favorite pieces from her current collections...

Royal Jewel Rewind: Nobel Prize Ceremony 2004

Tomorrow, the Swedish royal family will gather for the annual distribution of the Nobel Prizes in Stockholm. (Except, of course, for the Peace Prize -- the Norwegians award that one.) The Bernadottes always shine in their best jewels for the occasion. We've already had a look at the glitter worn five years ago at the Prize ceremony. Today, let's look back to the Nobels of ten years ago.

Queen Silvia wore a set of jewelry we've talked about recently on the blog: the Leuchtenberg sapphires, which were made by Napoleon's court jeweler, Nitot, in early nineteenth-century France. Check out the complicated and fascinating history of the parure here.

08 December 2014

Holiday Wishlists 2014: Links of London

Time for another week of jewels from designers around the world. Enjoy!

The Duchess of Cambridge wears Links of London earrings

Holiday Wishlist: Links of London

Founded in 1990, Links of London features jewelry that the company describes as "contemporary classics, fashion must-haves and that extra special piece you weren’t expecting to find." And their pieces are also royal-approved: the Duchess of Cambridge helped bring new attention to the brand when she wore a pair of the company's earrings in her official engagement photos. Here are five of my favorite pieces from the current Links of London collections...