31 December 2015

Royal Jewels of 2015: The Top Ten Jewel Moments

We've had a fair bit of royal sparkle to enjoy this year, magpies! Here's my list of the top ten royal jewel moments of the year. There were so many to choose from -- settle in with a glass of celebratory champagne, and then tell us about your favorite bejeweled moments of 2015 in the comments below!

10. Queen Maxima at the Danish State Banquet

When Maxima arrived at Christiansborg Palace for a state banquet this March, I know I wasn't the only one who gasped. She paired her gown from the 2013 inauguration ceremonies with the full version of the grand Dutch Sapphire Tiara, plus other diamond and sapphire pieces, including the stunning sapphire wing brooch.

30 December 2015

Royal Jewels of 2015: The Tiara Debuts

Is there anything more exciting than a royal lady showing up at an event in a tiara she's never worn before? (Really, is there???) This year, we were treated to several tiara debuts, both of brand-new pieces and major heirlooms.

Queen Mathilde in the Nine Provinces Tiara

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians had worn the meander bandeau base of the Nine Provinces Tiara before, but in April she stepped out in the full, majestic version of the tiara of Belgium's queens for the first time. She wore the complete '20s-era tiara, with its topper diamonds and arches, at the gala held at Christiansborg Palace for Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's 75th birthday.

29 December 2015

Royal Jewels of 2015: Kate's Top Ten

This week, we'll ring in a new year by looking back at some of the most glittering moments of 2015. We're starting off with my ranking of the best of the Duchess of Cambridge's 2015 jewels. Be sure to provide your own top ten list in the comments below!

10. Mappin and Webb's Empress Earrings

At Princess Charlotte's christening in July, Kate debuted a new pair of earrings: the white gold and diamond earrings from the Empress collection by Mappin and Webb. The earrings are a part of a set; Kate first wore the matching pendant necklace during an August 2014 visit to the poppy installation at the Tower of London. The earrings retail at Mappin and Webb for £3,450.

28 December 2015

A Quartet of British Christmas Brooches

The British royal family was out and about at the Sandringham estate as usual this Christmas, and the day brought us lovely brooches from several family members. Here's a look at four of them...

The Queen's ensemble on Christmas Day featured a large fur collar, so she didn't wear a brooch. But for her annual pre-recorded Christmas message, she wore a brooch that has featured significantly in her jewelry wardrobe this year: the large aquamarine and diamond Art Deco brooch that belonged to the Queen Mother. The Queen wore the same brooch this year on May 8, which was the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. I've speculated earlier here on the blog that this brooch may be the one that the Queen Mum wore on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day,

24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! I'm taking the weekend off to spend with family, but I'll be back here on Monday with a roundup of Christmas jewels and a couple of year-end celebrations. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you soon!

23 December 2015

Belgian Royal Brides: Queen Fabiola of Belgium

Time for the third installment of our series on Belgian royal brides! This week, we're discussing the December 1960 wedding of King Baudouin and Fabiola Mora y Aragon; if you missed them, here are links to our earlier posts on the weddings of Queen Astrid of Belgium and Queen Marie Jose of Italy.

King Baudouin was the second child and first son of King Leopold III and Queen Astrid, who was born a Swedish princess. Baudouin's childhood was filled with upheaval. When he was four, his grandfather's unexpected death placed his parents on the throne. His mother died in a tragic car accident when he was five; his father made a controversial second marriage when he was eleven. In 1940, when his father capitulated to the Germans, Baudouin and his family were imprisoned and narrowly avoided a tragic fate.

22 December 2015

Jewels at the Swedish Academy

Just when you thought the Swedish royals had hung up their jewels for the season, we get another glittering appearance, this time at the Swedish Academy. No tiaras, but plenty of glitter to enjoy!

Queen Silvia wore the family's pearl drop earrings; other than her rings, the rest of her jewels were hidden beneath her coat.

21 December 2015

Jewel Detective: Ball in Brussels

Can you identify the jewels worn by these royal guests at the pre-wedding ball given for King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium in December 1960?

20 December 2015

On The Tiarapedia: December 13-19

On The Tiarapedia...

Sunday, December 13: The Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara
Monday, December 14: The Japanese Pearl Sunburst Tiara
Tuesday, December 15: The Luxembourg Diamond Floral Tiara
Wednesday, December 16: The Hesse Emerald Tiara
Thursday, December 17: Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara
Friday, December 18: The Hesse Star Tiara
Saturday, December 19: The Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara

You can also browse The Tiarapedia alphabetically, by jeweler, or by country!

19 December 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Portland Sapphire Tiara


Gilded Age Britain was full of oversized, exaggerated tiaras. Today, let’s look at one of the very biggest of the bunch: the sapphire, diamond, and pearl tiara owned by the Dukes of Portland.

The tiara was made for the family by E. Wolff and Co. for Garrard. Most date the construction of the piece to 1890, the year after the 6th Duke of Portland married Winifred Dallas-Yorke. Some of the family’s existing jewels were broken up to provide stones for the enormous tiara. The tiara mixes Ceylon and Burmese sapphires with diamonds and pearls, and the stones are set in silver and gold. The tiara is a circlet, and a rather enormous one at that — it measures more than twenty-one inches in circumference. You can see the size of the tiara above, as worn by a model.

18 December 2015

This Fortnight in Royal Jewels: December 4-17

December 4-17, 2015

We spent last week covering the immense glitter of the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, but there have been other royal jewels out and about over the past two weeks. Here are ten of my favorites -- be sure to vote for yours in the poll below!

10. Princess Charlene of Monaco wore classic pearl stud earrings to distribute Christmas gifts at the palace on Wednesday.

17 December 2015

Belgian Royal Brides: Queen Marie José of Italy

Earlier this month, we discussed the jewels and the grandeur of the royal weddings of King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of Belgium. In our second post of a series on Belgian royal brides, we're taking a look at the wedding of Leopold's sister, Marie José, with a future Italian king.

Just like her Swedish sister-in-law, the marriage prospects of Princess Marie José of Belgium had been the subject of heavy speculation in the press. She was the daughter of a reigning monarch -- an increasingly rare thing in post-WWI Europe -- and, even more significantly, she was a Roman Catholic. As early as 1923, reporters were linking her with Crown Prince Umberto of Italy and forecasting an imminent engagement. Marie José had been educated in Italy, subscribed to the right religion, and was royal, three important factors that qualified her to be Italy's future queen consort. The press fairly salivated at the prospect.

16 December 2015

The Prussian Meander Kokoshnik

Once rulers of an entire empire, the House of Hohenzollern had a suitably grand selection of tiaras at their disposal at the beginning of the twentieth century. This tiara, the kokoshnik-style meander, supplemented the already impressive collection. It was created in 1905 by Koch, a German jewelry firm that created numerous pieces for the Prussian royal family.

Crown Princess Cecilie wears the kokoshnik [source]

Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany commissioned the tiara as a wedding gift for his bride, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (who was the sister of Queen Alexandrine of Denmark). In 1908, Cecilie was painted in the kokoshnik by Caspar Ritter. Cecilie certainly deserved to get an impressive tiara out of the deal. Her husband was a notorious philanderer -- there were even claims of an affair with Mata Hari, which was probably a bad idea all around if true.

15 December 2015

Jewel History: The Coming Royal Wedding (1878)

"The Coming Royal Wedding"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 15 Dec 1878)

From the London Truth -- The marriage of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught [1] with Princess Louise of Prussia [2] is to be solemnized at St. George's Chapel, Windsor on the 7th of February [3]. The ceremony will be performed with much state and with great festivities.

Although it appears that a dramatic representation is not in the programme, yet I am pleased to hear that the Queen will take a prominent part in all the festivities. It is time that Her Majesty should let her light shine on gatherings at the court.

14 December 2015

Jewels on Film: Coronation '37

For quite a long time, December 14 was something of a cursed day for the Windsors. Prince Albert, beloved husband of Queen Victoria, died on December 14; less than two decades later, their daughter, Princess Alice, also died on the same day. 

But when Prince Albert -- later King George VI -- was born on December 14 in 1895, Queen Victoria considered it to be a good sign of positive change. To celebrate Bertie's birthday, here's a look at newsreel footage from his coronation in 1937. Which jewels can you spot in these two film clips?

12 December 2015

Saturday Sparkler: The Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara

Some tiaras are famous because they've been worn at important events, and some are famous because they appear frequently in portraits, on television, or on currency. And then, there are tiaras like today's sparkler, which have become a part of history for slightly darker reasons.

In 1906, this tiara was made for Grand Duke Ernst of Hesse and by Rhine as a Christmas present for his newly-married second wife, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. (We’ve often discussed Ernst’s first wife, Victoria Melita, who had some serious tiaras of her own.) The design of the tiara, which is plays on the distinctive, traditional kokoshnik shape, was apparently a Russian creation. Even though the Hesse family is German, a Russian design makes sense; because Ernst’s sisters included Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, he had major links with the Russian imperial family. Geoffrey Munn posits that the tiara was made “by a competitor of Fabergé.”

11 December 2015

King's Dinner Tiaras 2015

The second dinner of the Nobel festivities in Stockholm was held on Friday, and more tiaras and jewels were worn by the Bernadotte ladies...

10 December 2015

Nobel Prize Ceremony Jewels 2015

If you're a jewel lover, this is one of the greatest "holidays" of the year -- the day that the Nobel Prizes are distributed in Stockholm. The entire Swedish royal family gathers in their finest evening gowns, orders, and jewels for the occasion, and this year, a queen and four princesses were among the audience. Enjoy the glitter!

Those of you who read our post this week on Queen Silvia's Nobel tiaras know that she followed her Nobel tiara pattern. In recent years, Silvia has alternated between the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Tiara and Queen Sofia's Tiara (also called the "Nine-Prong Tiara") for the ceremony. This year, it was the pronger's turn.

Royal Jewel Rewind: Princess Christina's and Princess Sofia's Nobel Jewels

Silvia, Victoria, and Madeleine won't be the only royal ladies at this year's Nobel ceremony; the court has also confirmed that Princess Sofia will attend, and we usually also see the king's sister, Princess Christina, as well. Here's a look at what these other Swedish princesses have worn at Nobels over the last decade...

2014: Sofia wore a brooch in her hair, but she didn't wear a tiara as she was still only engaged; this year will be her first tiara appearance at the Nobel ceremony

09 December 2015

Royal Jewel Rewind: A Decade of Princess Madeleine's Nobel Tiaras

She may no longer be seated on the stage at the annual Nobel Prize ceremony, but Princess Madeleine of Sweden is confirmed to be attending this year's festivities in the front row of the audience. Here's a look at the tiaras she's worn for Nobel night over the past decade...

08 December 2015

Kate Wears the Lover's Knot Tiara

Another day, another bejeweled surprise from the Duchess of Cambridge! Kate arrived at the annual Diplomatic Reception this evening wearing one of her late mother-in-law's signature jewels: Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara.

The tiara is a century old, making it one of the oldest royal jewels Kate has worn so far. Queen Mary commissioned the tiara from Garrard, and she sacrificed a tiara from her own jewelry collection, the Ladies of England Tiara, to make it. She also borrowed the upright pearls that originally sat atop the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and installed them at the top of this piece, but they were later removed.

Royal Jewel Rewind: A Decade of Crown Princess Victoria's Nobel Tiaras

Yesterday, we surveyed a decade of Queen Silvia's tiaras at the annual Nobel Prize ceremony; today, let's have a look at what her elder daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, has worn at the event over the past ten years

07 December 2015

Royal Jewel Rewind: A Decade of Queen Silvia's Nobel Tiaras

The annual Nobel Prize ceremony will be held in Stockholm on Thursday, and the Swedish royals are expected to be out in bejeweled force to greet the prize winners. To help us predict which jewels we'll see on the 10th, here's a look back at the tiaras and jewelry worn by Queen Silvia at the Nobels over the last ten years. (Stay tuned throughout the week for a look at more royal Nobel jewels!)

06 December 2015

On The Tiarapedia: November 29-December 5

On The Tiarapedia...

Sunday, November 29: The Hesketh Aquamarine Tiara
Tuesday, December 1: The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara
Wednesday, December 2: Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara
Thursday, December 3: The Ladies of England Tiara
Saturday, December 5: Queen Marie's Cartier Pearl Tiara

You can also browse The Tiarapedia alphabetically, by jeweler, or by country!

05 December 2015

Saturday Sparkler: Queen Louise's Diamond Tiara

We've talked at length here on the blog about the magnificent gems owned and worn by the Bernadotte family in Sweden. But they have a few petite royal tiaras in their jewelry boxes, too, including today's tiara, which belonged to Queen Louise.

The tiara, which is made of diamonds, seems to have been worn first by Louise. She was born Princess Louise of Battenberg — she was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria — but she became Lady Louise Mountbatten when her family renounced their German titles in 1917. Even without their royal titles, the Mountbattens were extremely well-connected. Louise’s siblings included Lord Louis Mountbatten and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (which means that Prince Philip was her nephew).

04 December 2015

This Fortnight in Royal Jewels: November 20-December 3

November 20-December 3, 2015

We've got sparkle from the European royals this time around, but the Brits definitely surged to the front of the pack with a glittering show in Malta. Be sure to vote for your favorites in the poll below!

10. Queen Mathilde of the Belgians and the Duchess of Gloucester both attended the Davis Cup finals this week; Mathilde donned large earrings made of red and gold discs, while Birgitte opted for gray pearls and a ribbon badge.

03 December 2015

Jewels on Film: Greenwich Welcomes King of Sweden (1955)

Glittering royal jewels from Sweden and Britain are on display in this film clip from 1955, which shows King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louise of Sweden visiting the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, accompanied by Louise's family, the Mountbattens. Which jewels can you spot?

02 December 2015

Belgian Royal Brides: Queen Astrid of Belgium

Rather than focusing on one jewelry-wearing royal lady this month, we'll be doing a series on several: some of the royal brides of the Belgian royal family. Our series begins with a royal woman whose tragic end helped cement her important legacy for the family: Queen Astrid.

Astrid was born Princess Astrid of Sweden on November 17, 1905, in Stockholm. She was the third daughter of Prince Carl of Sweden (a son of King Oscar II and Queen Sofia of Sweden) and Princess Ingeborg of Denmark (a daughter of King Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa of Denmark). As a member of both the Swedish and Danish royal families, Astrid's royal ties were extensive, and her name was often raised as a potential bride for various royal princes, including King Boris of Bulgaria and the Prince of Wales.

01 December 2015

The Braganza Tiara

On this day in 1822, Emperor Pedro I of the Portuguese House of Braganza was crowned in Brazil. Four years later, Pedro's empress, Maria Leopoldina of Austria, died in Rio de Janeiro. By 1829, Pedro was married again. This time, his wife was Princess Amélie of Leuchtenberg, a granddaughter of both King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Empress Joséphine of France.

As Brazil's empress, Amélie's jewelry box included a stunning set of diamonds. Among these was a wedding gift from her new husband: an enormous diamond diadem composed of flowers and leaves. The tiara was new, but the diamonds weren't. They'd actually belonged to Pedro's first wife, Maria Leopoldina, and had been acquired by Pedro from their children. The tiara itself was reportedly made in France, but Amélie herself apparently stated that the diamonds were sourced from Brazil.