31 October 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: October 24-30


October 24-30, 2014

With state visits, foreign trips, and awards ceremonies on the docket this week, you know there are some serious royal jewels for us to discuss! Enjoy!



10. Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel are on a visit to Estonia this week. For a meeting with the country's president on Tuesday, Victoria wore gold jewelry, including a very modern necklace with triangular pennants.


30 October 2014

Gala Jewels: Chilean Visit to Spain


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arrived in Madrid on Wednesday for an official visit with King Felipe and Queen Letizia. The day started off with lunch at Zarazuela Palace, following the traditional welcome ceremony photo-op.



Letizia's jewels for the daytime event were minimal as usual: just a delicate pair of drop earrings. But her jacket also had a little more interest courtesy the beaded detail.


State Visit Jewels: Dutch Visit to Japan


King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are currently in Tokyo on a state visit to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. On Wednesday, the royal couple were welcomed to the Imperial Palace.



Everybody dressed just about the way you would expect them to: suits on the monarchs, tiny saucer hat and pearls on Michiko, and an orange dress with a turban-y headpiece for Max. She's also wearing diamond pendant earrings with citrine drops, a golden bracelet, and a watch.

29 October 2014

Royal Bonus: The Queen in Costume


Still having trouble deciding what to wear for Halloween this weekend, dear readers? Well, you're in luck: I've brought along some inspiration today just for you! During World War II, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were tucked away at Windsor Castle for safekeeping. Every year, they put on pantomimes with elaborate costumes to entertain themselves and the rest of the castle's residents. Just check out some of these outfits!



Margaret plays Cinderella and Elizabeth plays her prince in Cinderella, December 1941


The Order of the Chrysanthemum


Margrethe II of Denmark wears the order, 2004

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are in Japan this week, dropping in on their imperial counterparts, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. A glittering state banquet is planned, and when the Dutch king steps into the ballroom, he'll be wearing the red and blue sash of Japan's highest chivalric order: the Order of the Chrysanthemum.



Queen Elizabeth II wears the order, 1975

The Order of the Chrysanthemum is the highest order of chivalry in Japan. As far as chivalric orders go, this one's pretty new: it was developed by Emperor Meiji over ten years in the 1870s and 1880s. The emperor is the order's sovereign, and it is awarded "at his pleasure." If you're a Japanese citizen, this is the highest national order you can get, and it is very rarely awarded. And, in an interesting quirk, you can get it even if you've already died -- appropriate for a culture that honors the spirits of its ancestors, the order can be awarded posthumously. The order only has one class, but sometimes recipients are given the collar of the order (the highest "rank") while others are given the grand cordon.


28 October 2014

The Top Ten: Royal Opals


October babies, let's face it: you've got a pretty cool birthstone. Opals come in a variety of colors, and often they look like they're literally glowing from within. Most of the world's opals are mined in Australia, so it's no surprise that it's also the country's national gemstone. Royals have been attracted to opals for centuries, from the "Burning of Troy" opal given by Napoleon to Josephine all the way to the present day, though many royal collections lack major opal pieces. Today, we're running down ten of the most intriguing opals in royal collections past and present.



10. Queen Letizia's Pink Opal Earrings: Letizia's jewelry collection includes the "Dinah" pink opal earrings from Tous, a Barcelona-based jewelry company. (See a closer image of the earrings here.) The new Spanish queen prefers extremely delicate, minimalist jewelry, so these drop earrings are actually some of the more substantial in her jewelry box. The earrings retail for $540 and can be purchased here.


27 October 2014

Swedish Royal Wedding News

Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist (Photo copyright Erika Gerdemark/kungahuset.se)

Last week, the Swedish royal court released new details about the upcoming wedding of Prince Carl Philip, the only son of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and Sofia Hellqvist, including the wedding date and venue.


Prince Carl Philip (Photo copyright Erika Gerdemark/kungahuset.se)


Carl Philip, who will turn 36 in May, will wed the former model on 13 June 2015. (The day will be a busy one for royal watchers; Trooping the Colour, the official celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, will be held in London on the same Saturday.) The wedding will be held almost a year after the couple's engagement, which was made official on June 27. The Bernadottes nearly always marry in June. The King and Queen were married on 19 June 1976, and Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel wed on the same day in 2010. Princess Madeleine's wedding anniversary is June 8. Three of the king's sisters, Princess Margaretha, Princess Désirée, and Princess Christina, were also married in June.


Queen Ena's Turquoises


Queen Ena wears her turquoise tiara, necklace, and earrings (source)


Lots of the fantastic jewelry from the collection of our Magpie of the Month, Queen Ena, is well known, especially the pieces that various family members inherited and continue to wear today. But today, we're talking about her small cache of turquoise jewelry -- pieces that have managed to fall off the radar entirely in the years since Ena wore them.



Queen Ena wears her turquoise tiara, necklace, and earrings (source)

When Ena married the Spanish king in 1906, her uncle and aunt -- King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra -- were on the throne in Britain. The illustrated list of Ena's wedding gifts includes a present attributed to them: a turquoise necklace and earrings. (It's number ten on the list, which you can see here.) Above, Ena wears the turquoise necklace and earrings with a striking turquoise tiara. It's commonly called a turquoise "star tiara," because the top row of the piece features small stars above the central turquoise buttons.


26 October 2014

Jewel Detective: Marie-José of Belgium


Can you identify the jewels worn in this 1920s-era portrait by Princess Marie-José of Belgium, briefly Queen of Italy?

25 October 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Strathmore Rose Tiara


One of the more unusual floral tiaras in any royal collection, the Queen Mother’s Strathmore Rose Tiara is a piece that remains in the Windsor vaults but hasn’t been seen in public in years. Part of the reason for the tiara’s disappearing act may actually be connected not only with its large flowers but also with its early twentieth-century roots. (Ha!)



The tiara takes its name from the Queen Mother’s family — she was born Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, daughter of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. When she married the Duke of York in 1923, she wasn’t yet destined to be queen, but her parents decided a new duchess needed a new tiara regardless. They gave her this floral piece, which was bought from Catchpole and Williams, a dealer based in London. In The Queen's Diamonds, Hugh Roberts notes that although the piece was purchased in the 1920s, it was made in England in the late nineteenth century. He also reveals that the flowers, which can be removed and worn as brooches, could originally be swapped-out for five collet-set sapphires.

24 October 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: October 17-23


October 17-23, 2014

State visits, awards ceremonies, and even LEGOs -- just your typical week in royal jewels. Enjoy!



10. While many of the royals were at the state banquet on Tuesday, the Duchess of Cornwall was busy supporting another family member, her son Tom, at the launch party for his new book. She wore her Van Cleef and Arpels dragonfly clips, one set with diamonds, the other with blue sapphires.


23 October 2014

State Visit Jewels: Guildhall Banquet


On Wednesday evening, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented the royal family at the Guildhall banquet held for President Tan of Singapore.



Birgitte wore a number of her most glittering heirloom jewels for the occasion. Her tiara is the all-diamond version of Queen Mary's Honeysuckle Tiara, made in 1913 by E. Wolff and Co. for Garrard. (See much more about the tiara here.) The diamond earrings are the same pair that she often wears to white-tie occasions. Her diamond collet necklace was a wedding gift from Queen Mary to Princess Alice, the previous Duchess of Gloucester, in 1935.


22 October 2014

Bonus Royal Review: My Days With Princess Grace


Cover image from my Instagram account (source)

When it comes to royal biography, I appreciate a thoroughly-researched historical look at a royal's life as much as anyone. But my real favorite kind of royal biography is the insider account: the descriptions of the daily lives of royals from those closest to them. Gossipy, yes -- sometimes a bit unreliable, yes -- but always incredibly interesting. Today's book, My Days with Princess Grace of Monaco, is just one of those tomes.



Grace and Rainier, 1959

The book is a collection of memories of Joan Dale, one of Grace's closest friends from her years as a princess. Dale and her husband met the Grimaldis in the early 1960s, during the early years of their marriage. The Dales were living in France, where her husband was working with the American diplomatic corps, and the couples became close. Their children were of similar ages, and Dale suggests that Grace felt somewhat isolated in Monaco and was happy to find an American friend nearby.


State Visit Jewels: Singapore State Banquet


The Singapore state visit turned up the glitter last night with a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted, and the guest list also included the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.



As per usual at British state visits, the only royal who posed for photographs was the Queen. She wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, the Coronation Necklace and Earrings, and diamond bracelets. The order she wears is Singapore's Order of Temasek, which she received in 1972; she's secured the sash with Queen Mary's Dorset Bow Brooch. She's also wearing the family orders of George V and George VI.


21 October 2014

State Visit Jewels: Singapore Welcome Ceremony



The state visit from Singapore to the UK kicked off with a bit of excitement today when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greeted President and Mrs. Tan at their London hotel. Kate, who we learned this week is expecting her second baby in April, had not appeared at an official engagement since August, so her attendance garnered major attention.



Kate wore Alexander McQueen, and her accessories were familiar pieces. The earrings are a combination of elements from two different designers. The hoops, made of yellow gold set with diamonds, are by Kiki McDonough; the pearl drops are by Annoushka Jewellery, who tweeted this close-up:


Queen Ena's Wedding Jewelry


When our Magpie of the Month, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, married King Alfonso XIII of Spain, she immediately became the nation's queen consort. As you can probably imagine, that kind of royal wedding, where a bride transforms into a queen, requires major jewelry. Let's have a look at the jewels that Ena wore on her wedding day, shall we?



Souvenir postcard from Alfonso and Ena's engagement, ca. 1906

Ena's wedding day -- 31 May 1906 -- was not exactly the perfect royal wedding. Her mother-in-law was reticent about the marriage and some of the Spanish people were apparently skeptical of their new British-born queen. But worst of all, Alfonso and Ena were nearly assassinated as their carriage drove them through the streets of Madrid after their wedding. An anarchist threw a bomb at the couple as they headed back to the palace; a number of people were killed, but Ena and Alfonso escasped physically unscathed. Only Ena's bridal gown was worse for wear, as it was stained with the blood of an injured guard who was positioned near her.


20 October 2014

Royal Bonus: Singapore State Visit Schedule


The Queen during the 2014 French state visit

This week, the Queen welcomes President Tan of Singapore to London for a four-day state visit. State visits always bring out significant glitter in Britain; here's a guide to where and when you can expect to see members of the royal family during the visit. (The full visit program is available here!)



William and Kate, August 2014

Tuesday: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are scheduled to greet President and Mrs. Tan at their hotel and escort them to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremonial welcome ceremony. Kate, of course, has been ill at the beginning of her second pregnancy, and I imagine her attendance will depend on her health on Tuesday morning. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be waiting at Horse Guards Parade (and often Charles and Camilla also attend these ceremonies), and then they'll take their guests to Buckingham Palace for lunch.


Reader Mailbag: The Queen Mother's Bandeau


Our very own Deb W. sent in a question recently about a bandeau worn by the Queen Mother:

While watching a video about George VI and Queen Elizabeth, I was riveted by a tiara on the Queen Mother that I believe I have never seen before!  Could you give help identifying it?



Thanks for the question, Deb! I was equally intrigued by the piece, which you can see at around the 2:36 mark in this YouTube clip from King George VI and Elizabeth: A Royal Love Story (2012). (Note: all of the still images in this post are screen captures from that clip.)

19 October 2014

Jewel Detective: Caroline of Monaco


Can you identify the jewels worn here by Princess Caroline of Monaco at the 50th birthday celebrations for King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in 1996?

18 October 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Crown Princess Mette-Marit's Daisy Bandeau


At the state banquet in Norway this week, Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore a tiara that has been her signature piece of jewelry since her wedding day more than a decade ago: a delicate bandeau tiara featuring daisy designs studded with diamonds.



Mette-Marit wears the tiara at the Danish royal wedding, 2004

The tiara, which fits in perfectly with Mette-Marit's minimalist Nordic style, was made in 1910. Exactly how the family got their hands on the sparkler has never been made clear. Some think they may have bought the piece from Garrard in London, but the family has never released any information on the maker or the means by which it was acquired. (I have always seen a major resemblance between this tiara and another Scandinavian sparkler: Queen Margrethe's turquoise bandeau.)

17 October 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: October 10-16


October 10-16, 2014

A state visit, a meeting between two monarchs, and a national celebration bring us plenty of sparkle this week. Enjoy!



10. With her work schedule back in full swing, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited one of her palaces, the Tower of London, to tour the crypt and the Tower Poppies exhibit on Thursday. She wore a piece of heirloom jewelry for the day: a cabochon emerald and diamond brooch that was once part of a stomacher that belonged to the Duchess of Teck. Queen Mary had the brooch created in 1897; it's usually worn with a cabochon emerald drop, also taken from the Teck stomacher.


16 October 2014

Queen Victoria's Strawberry Leaf Tiara


Ena of Spain (source)

Most of the tiaras worn by our Magpie of the Month, Queen Ena of Spain, came from her own collection. As a queen consort, she received numerous bejeweled gifts, and the majority of the jewelry that she wore belonged specificially to her. But even queens borrow jewels occasionally, and today's tiara -- the strawberry leaf tiara that Ena wore in a series of portraits -- actually belonged to another royal: Ena's mother, Princess Beatrice.



Albert and Victoria, 1860

The strawberry leaf tiara originally belonged to Ena's grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It began its life in the 1840s as a diamond and ruby bandeau. According to research on Ursula's site, Garrard altered the bandeau in 1860 to add a top row of strawberry leaves. The purchase order explains that the jeweler was responsible for "remounting Ruby and Diamond and head Ornament, addition of Strawberry leaves, scrolls and Ruby between" [1]. Victoria and Albert apparently really liked strawberry-leaf designs; they also had a strawberry leaf tiara made as a wedding present for their daughter Alice.


15 October 2014

Royal Bonus: The Best of Fergie Hair


While compiling today's birthday jewel post for Sarah, Duchess of York, I spent a lot of time marveling at the photographs taken of her amazing '80s hairstyles. I just had to share, of course. Enjoy!

(Also: I may have named each hairdo. I'm so sorry in advance...)



January 1987
("Fisherman's Delight")


Birthday Jewels: Sarah, Duchess of York


Today, Sarah Ferguson, the erstwhile Duchess of York, celebrates her 55th birthday. According to the press, she has reconciled sufficiently with the royals to celebrate with a big bash at Windsor Castle. In the meantime, let's have a look back at the wild and wonderful world that was Fergie in major jewels during her decade with the Windsors!



Engagement ring, 1986


14 October 2014

Tiara Timeline: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara


One of the most timeless and elegant of all of Queen Elizabeth II's tiaras is the diamond kokoshnik that belonged to her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra.  Today, we're tracking the history of this sparkler, which started off as a controversial present and ended up as a state banquet staple.



Empress Marie Feodorovna wears the tiara used as the model for Alexandra's tiara

1888: The Prince and Princess of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. A group of aristocratic women, calling themselves the "Ladies of Society," decide to give the princess a tiara to mark the occasion. Although there are squabbles among the committee, they raise the necessary funding and commission Garrard to make the piece. Alexandra requests that it be made in the style of a Russian kokoshnik tiara worn by her sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia (pictured above), and Garrard creates a diamond fringe tiara, set in white and yellow gold, that mimics the halo shape of the traditional Russian kokoshnik. Maria, Lady Ailesbury presents the tiara, which could also be worn as a necklace, to the princess.


13 October 2014

Jewel History: Will Sell Queen's Jewels (1907)


Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen of Belgium, ca. 1875

"Will Sell Queen's Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 8 Oct and 13 Oct 1907)


BRUSSELS, OCT 7 -- An auctioneer has been commissioned to sell the linens, jewels, souvenirs, etc. belonging to the late Queen of Belgium [1], the proceeds devoted to paying the debts of her daughter, Princess Louise, who was divorced last year by Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha [2].



Princess Louise and Prince Philipp, ca. 1875

Among the objects is a diadem presented to the Queen by the people of Belgium on the occasion of her silver wedding anniversary [3]. The diadem cost $30,000. 

12 October 2014

Jewel Detective: Mary and Marina



Can you identify the jewels worn here by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent and Queen Mary on a trip to the theater in Leicester Square in December 1935?

11 October 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Máxima's Wedding Tiara


One of the more useful terms for you to have in your royal jewelry vocabulary arsenal is "Frankentiara" -- a rather colorful way of referring to a sparkler that is cobbled together from parts of other pieces of jewelry. Today, we're looking at one of the Frankentiaras that graced the head of a royal bride: Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, now Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.



Queen Beatrix wears the Pearl Button Tiara, 1980

The base of this starry sparkler comes from another Dutch royal treasure: the Pearl Button Tiara. There’s a debate about the actual age of the base: some think that it was made in the twentieth century, while others argue that it was a part of a coronet worn by Queen Sophie of the Netherlands, which would make it an earlier creation.


10 October 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: October 3-9


October 3-9, 2014

This week brings us another set of royals heading to parliament, a concert trip, and a royal return. Enjoy!



10. She's back! Queen Elizabeth II returned from Balmoral this week, and she brought a wonderful jewel out of the box to meet with diplomats at Buckingham Palace: one of the Hyderabad Rose Brooches. The brooches, made by Cartier, were originally a part of the tiara given to HM as a wedding present by the Nizam of Hyderabad; although she had the tiara remodeled, she kept the brooches in their original form.


09 October 2014

Redesign It: The Dutch Emerald Tiara


Time for another round of royal jewelry reimagination, everyone! Today's target is the tiara from the Dutch royal family's emerald parure. Above, you can see Queen Maxima wearing the emerald version of the tiara....



... and here she is wearing the second setting of the tiara, which features upright pearls. The piece dates to 1896, so it's one of the family's historical heirloom jewels. But if you had the chance to make changes to the tiara, what would you do?

08 October 2014

Bonus Royal Review: Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son


Prince. Soldier. Humanitarian. Ginger. All excellent ways to describe Prince Harry of Wales, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and son of the Prince of Wales. This week, I've been working my way through Penny Junor's recent biography of the prince, Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son. As promised on Twitter, here's my quick review of the book!



Prince Harry, 1986

You can sort of divide Junor's biography into two sections: the part that's about Harry, and the part that's really more about his parents. The first half of the book or so is devoted to recapping the tempestuous marriage and divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales. If you've read anything by Penny Junor before, you know precisely where her sympathy lies: she's very pro-Charles and largely anti-Diana. And although there's an effort to see some of the War of the Waleses through Harry's young eyes, the book doesn't really discuss much of his experience in these years. There's a lot of well-trod territory here, and no real revelations about Harry's early years.


Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara


Lots of tiaras start off as wedding presents to royals from family members, wealthy patrons, and organizations. Often those presents are cherished treasures, in part because of their associations with their gifters. But that's not always the case. Today, we're looking at a tiara that actually started off in a very different form -- and as one of the wedding gifts presented to our Magpie of the Month, Queen Ena of Spain.



Ena of Battenberg, ca. 1904

Queen Ena was born Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, one of the granddaughters of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. When Ena married King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1906, she received a pearl tiara, made by Ansorena, from her new mother-in-law, Queen Maria Cristina of Spain.

07 October 2014

Reader Mailbag: The Queen's Brooch?


As you might imagine, I get lots of questions in my inbox about royal jewels, everything from identification of pieces to inquiries about purchasing items. As a new feature on the site, I'm going to offer answers to some of these questions, so that you can all enjoy the glittering results! Today's question comes courtesy reader Vanessa:


Do you know what brooch Queen Elizabeth wore to Diana's funeral? When I google the images, several different ones come up. Do you also happen to know if there was any significance behind it?


Thanks for the question, Vanessa! I can understand why the Google image search for this question is confusing: not only do you get multiple instances of HM wearing brooches on black coats at the time of Diana's funeral, you also get images of Helen Mirren from The Queen wearing replicas of the jewels. Here are some photos to help us clarify things...


06 October 2014

Jewel History: Men Wear Hidden Jewels (1901)


King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, ca. 1903


"Men Wear Hidden Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 6 Oct 1901)

The theft of Lord Angelsey's £40,000 worth of jewelry [1], used in his personal adornment alone, has brought out much talk in ultra-fashionable society regarding men who wear unseen jewels. Investigations among West End jewelers disclose the fact that there is an extensive trade in curios and costly articles, worn beneath ordinary clothing, such as snakes around waists, necks, and legs, bangles, chains, and amulets of various, singular designs.



The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, ca. 1900

Besides this extraordinary vogue, the fashion among men of wearing jewelry increased enormously this year, many using two pairs of links in each cuff and jeweled buttons with evening waistcoats.


05 October 2014

Jewel Detective: Marie of Romania


Can you identify the jewels worn by Queen Marie of Romania, born Princess Marie of Edinburgh, in a portrait from 1918?

04 October 2014

Queen Alia's Cartier Tiara


It's hard to find a more collectively glamorous group of royal women than the ladies of the Jordanian royal family. Today’s tiara, the Cartier tiara that belonged to the late Queen Alia, has been worn by three of the country’s queens and princesses.



Alia and Hussein of Jordan at their wedding, 1972

Alia Baha Ad-Din Touqan was the third of the four wives of King Hussein of Jordan. (The first was Princess Dina; the second, Princess Muna, is the mother of the current king, Abdullah II; and the fourth is the American-born Queen Noor.) Alia was the daughter of a Jordanian diplomat and had lived and studied all over the world before marrying King Hussein in 1972.


03 October 2014

This Week in Royal Jewels: September 26-October 2


September 26-October 2, 2014

It's that time again, magpies: our weekly roundup of royal jewels is here! This week seemed like it absolutely flew by, and the royals were busy bees. Enjoy the royal jewels they wore!



10. In Monaco, royals from Belgium, Luxembourg, and Saudi Arabia were among the attendees joining Prince Albert at a charity dinner for EORTC on Wednesday. Princess Astrid of Belgium accessorized her red dress with a shimmering bracelet and earrings.