20 April 2015

The Top Ten: Royal Diamond Brooches

Behold, perhaps the most challenging Top Ten list of all-diamond royal jewels I've compiled yet: the diamond brooch category! There are just so many good ones to choose from, and from all over the world, too. Here's what I finally decided on, but I'm definitely looking forward to hearing about your choices in the comments below!

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10. Princess Benedikte's Diamond Stars

Lots of royal collections include caches of diamond stars, which were extremely popular during the nineteenth century. (See my article on Sisi's popularization of the baubles over here!) I love the way that the Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, who was born Princess Benedikte of Denmark, wears her set of stars, scattering them across the necklines of her gowns and jackets, pinning them to her order sashes, and suspending them from necklaces. These brooches apparently once belonged to Queen Victoria of Sweden, Benedikte's great-grandmother; she often pairs them with the pearl and star tiara that belonged to her great-great-grandmother, Queen Sofia.

9. The Luxembourg Epaulette Brooch

The ladies over at Luxarazzi recently did a great write-up on this Luxembourgish brooch, which was originally a diamond epaulette, meant to be worn on the shoulder of a man's dress uniform. Today, it's one of the almost too-huge jewels donned by the ladies of the grand duchy, especially as it's frequently paired with the enormous Empire Tiara.

8. The Danish Frederik Brooch

A brooch doesn't have to be enormous to pack a major sentimental punch. You'll often see Crown Princess Mary of Denmark securing the back of her order sash with a small diamond brooch in the shape of the letter "F." That is, of course, the first initial of her husband, Crown Prince Frederik. It's said that this little brooch first belonged to Queen Ingrid -- whose husband, of course, was also named Frederik.

7.  The Williamson Diamond Brooch

The only thing better than a gorgeous diamond is a gorgeous, rare colored diamond. The central pink diamond of Queen Elizabeth II's Williamson Brooch weighs more than 23 carats. It was a wedding present from Canadian geologist Dr. John Williamson; Cartier later made it the centerpiece of this diamond and platinum brooch.

6. Queen Adelaide's Diamond Brooch

One of the oldest diamond brooches in the Windsor collection is the large round brooch that belonged to Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV. He ordered it for her from Rundell and Bridge in 1830, and she wore it at their coronation in 1831. The diamonds were even older, having been previously set in King George III's Order of the Bath insignia. This piece is now an heirloom of the crown and has been worn by every queen, regnant or consort, since.

5. The Diamond Daisy Brooch

When Princess Ingrid of Sweden married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935, her father, Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, wanted to include Ingrid's late mother in his wedding gift. He had a brooch made for his daughter using some of the diamonds that had belonged to his late wife, Crown Princess Margareta. Her nickname was "Daisy" -- hence the brooch's shape. Appropriately the brooch now belongs to Ingrid's daughter, Margrethe, who is also nicknamed "Daisy." You can read much more about the brooch over here!

4. The Brazilian Floral Brooch

Part of the impressive Brazilian diamond parure, this gorgeous diamond floral brooch came to Sweden in the nineteenth century, when Queen Josefina inherited it from her sister, Empress Amélie of Brazil. Queen Silvia often wears this brooch pinned to her order sash, but you'll occasionally see her wearing it in her hair.

3. Queen Fabiola's Waterfall Brooch

We're still not sure exactly what has happened to most of the jewels that belonged to the late Queen Fabiola of Belgium -- either the major pieces were quietly dispersed among family members before Fabiola's death, or she left the lot to charity -- but we do know the fate of this intricate diamond waterfall brooch. Queen Mathilde now wears the antique piece, giving many jewel lovers hope that other pieces of Fabiola's collection have also found their way into Mathilde's jewelry boxes.

2. The Cullinan III and IV Brooch

Really, how do you decide which of the Cullinan brooches to put on a list? You could easily swap out the Cullinan V stone here, and I'd be happy. But this one is just such an impressive whopper, weighing in at more than 150 total carats. Made by Carrington in 1911, the brooch was commissioned by Queen Mary (of course!). It's astonishing. And yes, I'm still ranking it second! :-)

1. The Stuart Parure Brooch

For me, the royal brooch still worn these days that can trump a Cullinan is the complicated diamond bow brooch from the Dutch royal family's house parure. Part of the set that includes the famed Stuart diamond, this brooch was hidden away in the vaults for years, but recently, Queen Maxima and Princess Laurentien have started wearing various pieces of it again. We still haven't seen the full brooch on display, but I can't wait for the day when Queen Maxima surprises us with it!