31 January 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Lannoy Tiara

One of the world’s newest royals wore this petite diamond tiara at her 2012 wedding. Countess Stéphanie of Lannoy chose to wear her family’s tiara on the day she married Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg, rather than one of the showstopping diamond tiaras from her new royal family’s extensive collection.

The Lannoy tiara may be smaller than some, but it is absolutely jam-packed with diamonds — almost 300 of them! — including the large pear-shaped diamond that sits atop the sparkler.

30 January 2015

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 23-29

January 23-29, 2015

Pearls and earrings dominated this week -- be sure to cast your vote for your favorite bejeweled appearance!

10. Looking happier than I've ever seen her, Princess Charlene of Monaco helped to celebrate the festival of Monaco's patron saint, Saint-Devote, on Monday. She wore simple diamond stud earrings for the occasion.

29 January 2015

The Countess of Wessex's Ascot Jewels

As January draws to a close, we're also wrapping up our month-long focus on the Countess of Wessex's jewels. Today, let's have a look at some of her most interesting bejeweled appearances at one of the biggest British royal events of the year: Royal Ascot. Feel free, of course, to assess both the jewels and the hats!

June 1995

28 January 2015

Princess Charlene's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara

The Ocean Tiara (which can also be worn as a necklace) belonging to Princess Charlene of Monaco on display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, as a part of the A Quest for Beauty: The Art Of Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition in October 2013

Review: Van Cleef & Arpels: Treasures and Legends (2014)

When I opened up my Christmas presents this December, one of the heaviest and most intriguing packages revealed a bejeweled surprise: a copy of Vincent Meylan's Van Cleef & Arpels: Treasures and Legends. I've been slowly working my way through the book, and I'm happy to say that it hasn't disappointed.

Meylan has used his access to the VC&A archives to produce a large volume full of high-quality photographs and fascinating anecdotes. The book is extremely substantial, weighing more than five pounds, and is among the largest of my books on royal jewels. At more than 300 pages, this is definitely a coffee-table book. And it's definitely attractive enough to display in your living room. The production value of the text is high, with a clean, striking cover design and glossy pages.

The content of the book is divided in eight sections. Four of these are focused exclusively on royal jewelry, with in-depth explorations of the VC&A jewels owned by the Maharini of Baroda, the Duchess of Windsor, the Princess of Rethy, and the former imperial family of Iran. I especially love that the book delves into the collections of royals from Asia and the Middle East rather than focusing solely on jewels worn by European royals. The pages on the Iranian jewels are especially fascinating, as the company played an interesting role in bedecking the last empress, Farah Pahlavi.

27 January 2015

Tiara Timeline: The Vladimir Tiara

Tiara Timeline: The Vladimir Tiara


1874: In August, twenty-year-old Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin becomes a member of the Romanov dynasty when she marries Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia. Vladimir is the third son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia; Marie is the elder daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Marie also has Romanov heritage of her own: she's the great-granddaughter of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia. To honor her Russian great-grandmother, Marie adopts the name "Maria Pavlovna" after her wedding in St. Petersburg. Her family calls her "Miechen."

26 January 2015

Vintage Royals: Red Cross Gala Glamour

Princess Antoinette, Prince Rainier, and Princess Grace of Monaco arriving at the Red Cross Ball in 1956

New Pieces for Charlene of Monaco?

Princess Charlene of Monaco celebrated her 37th birthday yesterday. I'm a firm believer that all birthdays deserve to be recognized with generous helpings of bling, but when you have a birthday right after giving birth to an heir and a spare? Surely that deserves some extra-special sparkle! Here are some pieces from Charlene's favorite jewelers that I hope Prince Albert added to her collection this weekend. What pieces would you like to see her wear?

Graff's Sapphire and Diamond Demi-Parure

Charlene often wears jewelry by Graff, including the diamond floral headband she donned last year. The company is currently selling a gorgeous set of diamond and sapphire jewels that would be just perfect for gala events in Monaco. 

25 January 2015

Sunday Stories: January 25

  • King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia died on Thursday at the age of 90; he had reigned for almost a decade. The new Saudi king is his brother, Salman. (BBC)
  • On Saturday, another royal connection died: Johan Martin Ferner, the husband of Princess Astrid of Norway, died in Oslo. He was 87. (Trond Norén Isaksen)
  • Rumors of an engagement were reported -- and later denied -- for Princess Beatrice and her longtime boyfriend, Dave Clark. I'm still guessing we'll hear wedding bells for these two ... but maybe not until her parents aren't in the news quite so much? (Independent.ie)
  • The Swedish court released a statement denying that Christopher O'Neill is in tax trouble. (Kungahuset)
  • The ladies over at Luxarazzi have done a bit of research on Princess Sibilla's diamond and ruby necklace. (Luxarazzi)
  • The Cambridges are on their annual trip to Mustique to celebrate Carole Middleton's birthday. (Hello!)
  • Princess Athena, the youngest child of Prince Joachim of Denmark, turned 3 this week, and new photos were released to celebrate. (Kongehuset)

24 January 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara

One of my favorite things about the Dutch royal family is their willingness to innovate with their jewels. Today’s tiara, one of the family’s “newest” pieces, is actually composed of a sapphire necklace supplemented by elements from another dismantled sapphire jewel.

 Queen Emma wears the necklace (source)

While the necklace was not worn in public as a tiara until 2009, it has a much longer history. It began as a choker of diamonds and eleven sapphires and was purchased for Queen Emma by her husband, King Willem III. Along with other sapphire and diamond jewels, it was collected into a married parure. Occasionally a sapphire pendant was added to the center of the piece. (For a very long time, sources — including the Dutch royal household itself — have stated that the choker and other parts of the sapphire parure were made by Mellerio. More recent research has suggested this is not the case.) Above, Emma wears the choker with the pendant.

23 January 2015

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 16-22

January 16-22, 2015

Birthdays, brooches, and a trip to the circus -- here are this week's royal jewels!

10. The Countess of Wessex celebrated her 50th birthday this week with a series of engagements; she chose minimal jewelry, including these sea urchin stud earrings by Patrick Mavros. The earrings feature tiny black diamonds in the center of the stud. Closeups are available at Anna's blog.

22 January 2015

Vintage Royals: Bijoux de L'Impératrice

December 2012: A delicate diamond bow brooch is photographed atop an order sheet from Mellerio dits Meller that details purchases made in 1867 by Eugénie, the last Empress of the French

Jewel History: An Empire's Relics (1872)

"An Empire's Relics"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 21 Jan 1872)

The jewels of the Empress Eugénie [1] are for sale. Mr. Harry Emanuel has many of them at his establishment in New Bond Street and is now offering them to his customers. There is no concealment as to the late ownership. Mr. Emanuel had the magnificent collection he showed on Saturday direct from the empress, and many of the jewels in it have been familiar through portraiture for years.

Few will read this announcement without regret. The early gifts from the emperor, the gorgeous diadem worn on occasions of semi-state, the costly offerings from reigning potentates, the small ornaments in daily use, and those of luxury and display, have all come to be appraised as merchandise, and to be sold for what they will bring. A sale of personal effects and the distribution of household goods always suggest a mournful contrast between their owner's past and present; and to thousands the fact that the ex-Empress of the French is selling her ornaments will speak with a homely significance which the more important circumstances attending fallen greatness lack. A lady parting with her jewels is a hard fact which is unmistakable, and it is possible that the popular sympathy will be more deeply roused than at any event in the imperial history since the flight from Paris and the surrender at Sedan [2].

The collection is remarkable in many ways. That of the Prince Esterhazy [3] was more valuable, but for taste and workmanship combined with historical interest, it is not too much to say that nothing like it has been offered for sale in England within living memory, if at all. A mere catalogue of articles shows this.

21 January 2015

Gala Jewels: Queen Mathilde of the Belgians (Part Two)

Time for the second part of our look at the gala jewels worn by Queen Mathilde of the Belgians!

November 2008: Birthday Celebrations for the Prince of Wales

Gala Jewels: Queen Mathilde of the Belgians (Part One)

The Countess of Wessex isn't the only royal who had a birthday yesterday. Queen Mathilde, the wife of King Philippe of the Belgians, celebrated her 42nd birthday. Mathilde has been a member of the Belgian royal family since 1999, and in that time, her jewel collection has slowly grown. Today, let's look at some of her glittering gala appearances during her 16 years as a royal. As with yesterday's birthday jewels post, stay tuned for part two later today!

December 1999: Royal Wedding

20 January 2015

Gala Jewels: The Countess of Wessex (Part Two)

Time for more sparkling jewels to celebrate Sophie Wessex's 50th birthday! Which pieces are your favorites?

September 2008: Army Benevolent Fund Event

Gala Jewels: The Countess of Wessex (Part One)

Happy 50th birthday to the Countess of Wessex! The palace released a new portrait of Sophie to mark the milestone. But we're going to go with a bit more glitter for our celebrations, of course. Enjoy a look back at some of Sophie's most sparkling gala appearances, and stay tuned later today for more!

June 1999: Royal Wedding

19 January 2015

Vintage Royals: Prince Alfred Pitches Woo

A cartoon from a July 1873 issue of Punch, a satirical magazine, depicts the courtship of Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Alfred wears his naval uniform and fiddles from the prow of a boat named Galatea, the Royal Navy frigate he commanded. Maria watches from a window decorated with the imperial arms of the House of Romanov and two bears, animals often used by Westerners to represent Russia

Jewel Detective: Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna

If you watched last night's episode of Downton Abbey here in the States, you undoubtedly caught a reference to the 1874 wedding of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (and later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Can you identify the jewels worn by Maria here, ca. 1880?

18 January 2015

Sunday Stories: January 18

Sunday Stories: January 18, 2015

  • Kensington Palace joined Twitter this week! The new account will document the royal engagements of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
  • In the continuing saga of Andrew and Fergie, Sarah appeared on American television this week to promote a weight-loss product and defend her ex-husband. (Hello!)
  • Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark has apologized after he was allowed to cross a bridge that was closed because of dangerous weather. (BBC News)
  • Yet more legal woes for the Spanish royals. After losing his immunity following the abdication, King Juan Carlos is set to face a paternity suit in court. (BBC News)
  • A glamorous tiara that was once owned by the late Duchess of Alba is for sale in New York. (Erik Schoonhoven)
  • A new portrait, complete with tiara and cat, has been released to celebrate Princess Michael's 70th birthday. (RJWMB)
  • Heads up, San Franciscans: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, and Princess Estelle are heading your way. Victoria and Daniel will participate in an official visit from January 19-21. (Kungahuset)

16 January 2015

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 2-15

January 2-15, 2015

Slowly but surely, the royals are starting to get back in the swing of things. Here are the baubles we saw them wear over the past two weeks...

10. The Dutch royals returned from Christmas break to attend a series of New Year's receptions. On Wednesday, Queen Maxima wore pearls for the foreign diplomatic reception.

15 January 2015

Gala Jewels: Princess Michael of Kent (Part Two)

Here's Part Two of our look at Princess Michael of Kent's impressively glamorous evening jewels. Enjoy!

Charity gala performance, 1996

Gala Jewels: Princess Michael of Kent (Part One)

Happy birthday to one of the most interesting members of the House of Windsor, Princess Michael of Kent! Today Marie Christine turns seventy, and we're celebrating with her by looking back at the glamorous gala jewels she's worn during her decades as a princess. Here's part one -- stay tuned later today for part two. Which pieces are your favorites?

Wedding to Prince Michael of Kent, 1978

14 January 2015

Redesign It: Crown Princess Mary's Wedding Tiara

Crown Princess Mary received a convertible diamond tiara as a wedding present from her parents-in-law in 2004, but many royal watchers were disappointed with the size and presence of the piece. Mary's already made some changes to the piece, adding a set of removable pearls. If you could make additional changes, how would you redesign the sparkler?

13 January 2015

Vintage Royals: Ernst August and Ortrud

Prince Ernst August IV of Hanover (grandson of the last Duke and Duchess of Cumberland) and Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg on their wedding day in 1951. They are the parents of Prince Ernst August V, the current head of the House of Hanover, and the grandparents of Princess Alexandra of Hanover (daughter of Ernst August and Caroline of Monaco). Behind her tiara, Ortrud is wearing Queen Charlotte's diamond nuptial crown, won by the Hanoverians in a lawsuit against Queen Victoria in the 1850s

Jewel History: Wedding Presents of a Princess (1879)

"Wedding Presents of a Princess"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 15 Jan 1879)

From the Copenhagen correspondent of the London Standard -- Among the presents which the Princess Thyra [1] received on the occasion of her marriage with His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland and Brunswick-Luneberg [2] may be mentioned the following:

Crown Princess Thyra wears her diamond cross (source)

The King and Queen of Denmark [3] presented their daughter with a splendid necklace in diamonds, with a cross attached; the Queen Dowager [4], a portrait of His Majesty, in oil painting; and Queen Victoria [5], a rich cashmere shawl and a medallion studded with pearls and containing a portrait of Her Majesty.

12 January 2015

Hollywood Royalty: Golden Globes 2015

As a bit of a bonus today, we're delving into the world of Hollywood Royalty. While the actual royals are on holiday, the stars are currently sporting major sparkle as awards season kicks into high gear. Here's a look at some of the sparkliest appearances at last night's Golden Globes!

Dazzling Diamonds

Gina Rodriguez wears Chopard
(PS: Gina's show, Jane the Virgin, is one of my favorites on TV -- definitely worth a watch!)

The Countess of Wessex's Aquamarines

Sophie Wessex, our Magpie of the Month, has been a member of the British royal family for fifteen years, and in that time, her jewelry collection has slowly grown. She started off with a few significant, sentimental pieces, including her wedding jewels and the diamond clips we discussed last week, but she has been adding more and more interesting jewels over the years. Today, we're talking about gems that have become almost signature pieces for her: jewelry with aquamarines and other vivid light blue stones.

In 2004, Sophie began wearing a set of jewelry set with blue stones, possibly aquamarines or blue topazes. The necklace and earrings feature a modern design, with geometric ribbons of diamonds paired with the blue stone drops. Above, she wears the set during the Polish state visit in May 2004.

11 January 2015

Vintage Royals: Le Pecheur et Les Perles

19 Jan 1953: Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium and her fiance, Hereditary Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg (second and third from left), attend a gala performance of Le Pecheur et Les Perles in Brussels

Sunday Stories: January 11

Happy Sunday, everyone! Here are some of the royal stories that have been making news this week...

  • The extended grand ducal family of Luxembourg has a new member: Katarina Marie-Christine Fabiola, the daughter of Archduke Christoph and Archduke Adelaide, was born on December 22. Christoph is the nephew of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. Baby Katarina's middle names honor her aunt and godmother, Archduchess Marie-Christine, and the late Queen Fabiola of Belgium, who was Christoph's great-aunt. (Luxarazzi)
  • Sofia Hellqvist, fiancee of Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, has given an interview in which she addresses her reality television past and the welcome she received from the Swedish royal family. (Hello!)
  • A judge has rejected an appeal against Infanta Cristina of Spain's indictment for tax fraud. She will be the first member of the Spanish royal family to stand trial since the restoration of the monarchy. (ABC News)
  • The Danish royal court has released new photos of Prince Vincent and Prince Josephine of Denmark, who adorably turned four this week. (Kongehuset)
  • Året med kungafamiljen, the annual documentary about the Swedish royal family's year, can be seen online here. It was a big year: a royal baptism, a royal engagement, a new royal baby on the way, and the always-adorable antics of Princess Estelle. (SVT)
  • The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will travel to Germany for a state visit in June. (Telegraph)
  • Prince Andrew's name is in the news yet again this week: he and ex-wife Sarah have jointly purchased a chalet in Verbier. (Daily Mail)

10 January 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Cartier Indian Tiara

The Duchess of Gloucester, wife of a cousin of the British monarch, has a jewelry collection that outshines those of some entire royal families. Many of her pieces came from Queen Mary via the current duke's mother, Princess Alice. But today’s tiara, the Cartier Indian, arrived in the Gloucester collection from a different, lesser-known branch of Queen Victoria’s family tree. The tiara was originally owned by Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise, who was born a princess of Schleswig-Holstein.

Marie Louise’s parents were Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Helena of the United Kingdom, one of the daughters of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Marie Louise had a rather complicated marital situation; she was married to Prince Aribert of Anhalt, but the match was a poor one. The reasons why are debated — many think that Aribert was gay — but whatever the problems were, Marie Louise’s father-in-law, the Duke of Anhalt, apparently decided that he should use his ducal prerogative to annul the marriage while Marie Louise was on an official visit to Canada. Not exactly the tidiest of endings.

09 January 2015

Monaco Welcomes Gabriella and Jacques

Most of the royals are still enjoying their winter holidays at the moment, so we're postponing the weekly jewel news until we get, well, more news! In the meantime, let's look at the big royal event of the week: the official presentation of Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques of Monaco! We've got adorable babies, glamorous Grimaldis, and jewels that belonged to Princess Grace...

Prince Albert presented the heir to the throne, Hereditary Prince Jacques...

08 January 2015

Kate: A Year in Jewels (Part Two)

And here's part two of Kate's jewels from 2014! Click here to see jewels from the first part of the year, including the tour of New Zealand and Australia.

June 6: D-Day Commemorations
Diamond and sapphire earrings

Kate: A Year in Jewels (Part One)

The Duchess of Cambridge celebrates her birthday tomorrow, which means that it's a particularly good time to have a look at the jewels she wore in 2014. There were lots of familiar pieces in the mix, but also a few sparkling surprises. Which of Kate's jewels did you covet most this year? (Stay tuned later today for part two!)

February 11: National Portrait Gallery
The Queen's Nizam of Hyderabad necklace (Cartier), diamond wedding gift earrings

07 January 2015

Tiara Timeline: The Danish Rubies

Time for another journey back into the mists of jewel history, everybody! Today, we're tracing the journey of the ruby parure worn today by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. It's a set that was made for a commoner and never intended to be a part of a royal collection -- and then history took an extremely interesting detour...

Désirée Clary, ca. 1807 (source)

1795: In April, Napoléon Bonaparte becomes engaged to Désirée Clary, the daughter of a silk merchant from Marseilles. However, shortly after the engagement, Napoléon meets Joséphine de Beauharnais. The engagement is broken in September, but Désirée remains close to the Bonaparte family, because her sister, Julie, is married to Napoléon's brother Joseph.

06 January 2015

The Countess of Wessex's Diamond Art Deco Clips

It's a bit hard to believe when you see her, but this month, the Countess of Wessex is celebrating her fiftieth birthday. I'm hoping that Sophie's husband helps mark the occasion by making some additions to her jewelry collection; we're celebrating here at The Court Jeweller by making her our Magpie of the Month! Let's kick off our series on Sophie's jewels with a look at one of her most important brooches: her pair of diamond clips.

The brooch was the Queen Mother's wedding gift to Sophie in 1999, so it's extremely appropriate that we saw her wear the clips for one of the first times in public at the Queen Mum's 99th birthday celebrations that August.

05 January 2015

Jewel History: Women's Jewel Fund (1918)

The Duchess of Marlborough

"Women's Jewel Fund"
(originally appeared in The Times on 5 Jan 1918)

A Jewel Fund in aid of Child Welfare has been started in London to raise money to provide grants to assist the initial expenditure on establishing child welfare organizations throughout the country. There are at present about 200 towns where it is proposed to conduct welfare centers for antenatal and postnatal care as well as day nurseries for the children of working mothers.

Ellen Terry, ca. 1912

The appeal, which is signed by the Duchess of Bedford [1] (chairman of the fund), Mrs. Lloyd George [2] (vice-president), Lady Rhondda [3] (vice-chairman), the Duchess of Marlborough [4] (hon. treasurer), Lady Henry [5] (hon. secretary), the Duchess of Norfolk [6], Dr. Mary Scharlieb [7], Miss Ellen Terry [8], Mrs. May Ogilvie Gordon [9], and Mrs. Mary R. Macarthur (Mrs. W.C. Anderson) [10], asks every woman for a gift of jewelry, which will eventually be sold at Christie's, to help in the formation of centers, which will be assisted later by government and municipal grants. The offices of the fund are at premises lent by the firm of Cartier, at 175 New Bond Street, where gifts of jewelry can be sent, addressed to the Duchess of Marlborough. A gratifying response has already been made to the appeal, and a display of the jewels received is now on view at Messrs. Cartier's.