12 January 2015

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.

The same month, Sophie paired the pendant necklace with a borrowed tiara for the the pre-wedding gala for Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Sophie's also worn the earrings separately, as she did at this event in September 2004...

...and at this gala dinner in 2008.

In 2005 in Monaco, Sophie paired the set with a new piece: a convertible diamond and aquamarine tiara. The modern sparkler was worn for Prince Albert II's coronation gala. The large central aquamarine is significantly paler and greener than the stones in the necklace and earring set, but the modern design of each piece almost makes them work as a married parure. The tiara has been tentatively attributed to Collins and Sons.

In 2006, Sophie wore the new tiara as a necklace at a charity gala for Childline. Coincidentally, Prince Albert of Monaco was also at this gala. To my knowledge, there's never been a suggestion that any of Sophie's jewelry is connected to the Grimaldis, but her aquamarines do pop up at events linked with the Monegasque princely family with strange regularity.

Sophie brought out the necklace version of the jewel at the Queen's 80th birthday party at the Ritz that December. Here, she paired the piece again with the earrings from the other set. This photo clearly shows the color difference between the stones.

Sophie also has a large aquamarine and diamond ring -- I believe this has also been connected to Collins and Sons.

Another event in Monaco, another debut of an aquamarine piece. This Art Deco brooch, with a large central aquamarine, also features diamonds, plus surrounding rings of green and blue stones. Sophie wore it for the first time in public at the July 2011 wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco.

She's worn the brooch a number of times since. Here it is in 2012 at Royal Ascot...

...and again at Ascot in 2013...

...and once more at Ascot in 2014.

Sophie sometimes wears the brooch with a pair of earrings that may also be set with aquamarines.

But Sophie's most significant piece of aquamarine jewelry is undoubtedly the tiara that she debuted at the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg in October 2012. The piece, which features five large aquamarines set in complicated ribbons of diamonds, was worn by the Queen in the 1970s. The provenance of the piece is unclear -- it may or may not be part of the aquamarine gifts that HM has received from Brazil -- and it's also not known if Sophie has been given the tiara or if it's a loan. She has worn the piece with other items of jewelry belonging to the Queen, including the King Faisal necklace (pictured above).

Sophie wore the new aquamarine tiara at the recent state banquet during the Singapore state visit; she also wore it in 2013 at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O'Neill. The diamond earrings she wore on the day were also loaners from the Queen; the brooch may be set with more light blue stones, possible aquamarines or topazes.