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.

Fabiola wore the tiara regularly during her queenship, sometimes as a diadem, and sometimes as a necklace. She often wore the piece as a necklace while wearing either the Spanish tiara, as she does above in a photograph from 1961, or the Nine Provinces. While the tiara looks rather small nestled in Fabiola's voluminous bouffant, as a necklace, it provides substantial sparkle.

Fabiola’s husband, King Baudouin, died in 1993; after his death, this necklace/tiara and many of her more elaborate jewels were worn seldom if at all. We learned shortly after Fabiola's death earlier this month that she had donated all of her possessions to Hulpfonds van de Koningin, a charity that she founded after becoming Belgium's queen. As Trond Noren Isaksen has noted, this may mean that her jewelry was also donated.

However, I still think -- though it may ultimately be a pipe dream -- that it's possible that pieces like the Wolfers necklace/tiara may have been given to another member of the royal family (Mathilde?) at some point before Fabiola's death. We know that Mathilde has worn significant pieces of Fabiola's jewelry already, including her diamond waterfall brooch and her Tunisian earrings. Because of this, I still think it's extremely possible that we'll see some of Fabiola's grand jewels again, but I suppose only time (and auction listings) will tell.

Update: We now know the fate of the Wolfers Tiara! It was given to/inherited by Queen Mathilde, who wore it for the first time at a state banquet in Poland on October 13, 2015. Hooray!