31 January 2016

Vintage Royals: Princess Beatrix at the Ballet

Happy birthday to Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands! Here's a flashback to the princess at eighteen, attending the ballet in Amsterdam wearing the diamond laurel wreath tiara

30 January 2016

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Ingeborg's Star Tiara

Even though turquoises are relatively inexpensive semi-precious gems, many royal families do not own significant pieces of turquoise jewelry, let alone tiaras featuring turquoises. But this tiara, once in royal hands and now owned by Danish nobles, combines turquoises with stars.

Ingeborg wears the star tiara at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in 1937 [source]

The tiara’s first owner was Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, the daughter of King Frederik VIII and Queen Louise of Denmark. (She's best known today for because of the brilliant marriages made by her daughters, including Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and Queen Astrid of the Belgians, making her the grandmother of one reigning king and the great-grandmother of a reigning king and a reigning grand duke.)

29 January 2016

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 22-28

January 22-28, 2016

We've got a rather surprising winner in the weekly jewel review this week. Vote for your favorite in the poll below!

10. Princess Charlene of Monaco donned a sparkling pair of stud earrings during a ceremony in honor of Monaco's patroness, Sainte Devote, on Tuesday.

28 January 2016

Jewels on Film: Elizabeth II Tours India (1961)

With all the chatter surrounding the Cambridges' upcoming Indian tour, I thought it would be appropriate to look back half a century at another important visit to India: Queen Elizabeth II's first trip to the country. Which jewels can you spot on the Queen during this historic visit?

27 January 2016

Jewel History: The Tiara Has Become a Social Need (1907)

Chrysoprase and stamped gold tiara, English ca. 1835. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

"The Tiara Has Become a Social Need"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post on 20 Jan 1907)

It was not long ago that a woman went to a metropolis from her country home to spend a night in a hotel. She brought her jewel box with her, and a clever hotel thief got away with her tiara. To this day she has never got the jewels back, and there are persons heartless enough to say that a woman who could not spend a night in town without her tiara deserved to lose it. They do not understand the importance that this form of jewelry has assumed. In explaining why she had come to town for twenty-four hours with such a valuable ornament, the victim of the thief called on English precedent and quoted a duchess, who said she would as soon go about now without her tiara as without her toothbrushes.

The ring of tiaras in the so-called golden horseshoe of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York bears witness to the importance that this form of headdress bears to wealth and social distinction. The outward and visible sign of a certain material condition is the tiara. In England, the duchesses have had them for years, and the wealthy intruders, whether they come from Australia or South Africa, immediately concern themselves about the style of their tiaras. In the large cities, the show girl or the actress who has acquired fame wants first of all a tiara.

Mabelle Gilman Corey wearing a coronet-style tiara

The crown of diamonds and pearls that rests on the brow of Miss Gilman [1] will undoubtedly make its appearance in rivalry with other tiaras once an impending social event takes place. This tiara was made by the most famous jeweler of the Avenue de l'Opera and is classical in the purity of its outlines. It follows exactly the form of a princess's crown, and the younger women of the royal family in Germany, Russia, and England top their charms with such an adornment once they have reached an age in which the tiara is permissible.

25 January 2016

On The Block: Jewels of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire

Sotheby's in London has released a "first look" at an important upcoming sale: the auction of a number of the possessions of the late Duchess of Devonshire. Here's a look at some of the jewelry items that will be offered in the March sale.

Photo: Sotheby's

Diamond Heart Brooch

Commissioned for Deborah by her husband, the 11th Duke, as a 60th wedding anniversary present in 2001. Auction estimate: £7,000-£10,000

24 January 2016

Vintage Royals: Queen Sirikit in Spain

24 January 1996: Queen Sirikit of Thailand wears pearls on a visit to Tenerife, Spain, twenty years ago today; below, you can see that the set also includes a pearl bracelet

23 January 2016

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Claire's Wedding Tiara

Some wedding tiaras are statement makers, and some are a bit quieter. Today's tiara, the diamond wedding tiara of Princess Claire of Belgium, falls into the latter category, but for my money, the piece is still one of the best bridal tiaras worn in Europe this century.

The specific provenance of the all-diamond tiara doesn’t seem to have been made public knowledge. While we don’t know whether the tiara was newly-made or an antique piece, we do know that it was a wedding gift to the British-born Claire from her new parents-in-law, King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium.

22 January 2016

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 15-21

January 15-21, 2016

From jubilees to circus festivals, we've got a treasure trove of jewelry on display this week. Don't forget to vote for your favorites in the poll below!

10. Princess Charlene of Monaco exercised the privilege du blanc when she visited the Vatican this week, and you could just see a glimpse of pearl stud earrings peeking out from under her white lace veil.

21 January 2016

Princess Ingrid Alexandra Wears Her Heart Pendant Necklace

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff

The royal jewels from Norway just keep coming this week! Today is Princess Ingrid Alexandra's twelfth birthday, and the Norwegian royal court released a new set of portraits for the occasion. In the pictures, the future queen wore a piece of heirloom jewelry that belongs to her: a pearl necklace with a diamond and ruby heart pendant.

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff

The necklace was a christening gift to the princess from her grandmother, Queen Sonja. Sources have suggested that the necklace was originally a gift to Queen Sonja from her husband, King Harald, on the occasion of the christening of Ingrid Alexandra's father, Crown Prince Haakon. To my knowledge, though, the court has never clarified the precise provenance of the necklace. The piece has also been worn by Ingrid Alexandra's mother, Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

20 January 2016

Queen Alexandrine's Sapphires

Some of you asked yesterday for more on the sapphires that Queen Margrethe II of Denmark wore at this weekend's Norwegian Silver Jubilee, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Here's a look at various sapphire pieces from the collection of Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, grandmother of the current queen.

Queen Margrethe's Sapphire and Diamond Demi-Parure

This versatile set consists of at least three major pieces: a necklace, earrings, and a large brooch. The necklace is adjustable; sections can be removed to make it longer or shorter. Queen Margrethe has in the past used some of the removed sapphire elements as hairpins. She's also worn the necklace with an additional marquise-shaped sapphire and diamond pendant. The entire set comes from Queen Alexandrine, and it's often speculated that it has Russian origins. That would make sense -- Alexandrine's mother, Anastasia, was born a Romanov grand duchess. When Alexandrine owned these sapphires, some of them were mounted in a large corsage ornament, which was broken up to create the set now worn by Margrethe.

19 January 2016

Jewels of the Norwegian Silver Jubilee

Time for a look at the jewels worn by Queen Sonja and the other ladies who attended King Harald's Silver Jubilee festivities in Norway this weekend!

On Saturday, the Norwegian royal family and their guests gathered at Skaugum, the home of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Sonja wore pieces from her collection of modern emerald jewels.

18 January 2016

Celebrating Silver Jubilees Around the World

Yesterday, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway celebrated their Silver Jubilee, the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Here's a look at film footage of other monarchs from all over the world celebrating their Silver Jubilees. Enjoy!

1935: King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom

17 January 2016

Sunday Sparkler Special: The Norwegian Royal Tiara Collection

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of King Olav V of Norway and the accession of his son, King Harald V. To mark King Harald's Silver Jubilee, today we have a very special Sunday edition of our Sparkler series, surveying all of the tiaras currently owned/worn by the ladies of the Norwegian royal family. You can read more about each tiara by clicking on the piece's name. Enjoy!

Made in the early nineteenth century, this parure of emerald jewels started out with the Leuchtenberg family in Germany. The tiara traveled through the family, moving to Portugal and Sweden, and was eventually inherited by Princess Ingeborg of Sweden. She gave the tiara to her daughter, Crown Princess Martha of Norway, as an insurance policy during her WWII exile to America. After Martha's death, the entire parure was inherited by King Harald. Today, the tiara is worn exclusively by Queen Sonja.

16 January 2016

New Bejeweled Royal Portraits for Norway's Silver Jubilee

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs, Det kongelige hoff

Sunday marks twenty-five years since King Harald V succeeded to the throne of Norway. To celebrate the king's Silver Jubilee, the royal court has released several bejeweled new portraits of King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. To see higher-resolution versions of each images, plus even more portraits, visit the Norwegian monarchy's official website here.

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs, Det kongelige hoff

King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway

15 January 2016

This Week in Royal Jewels: January 8-14

January 8-14, 2016

We're back with our weekly roundup of royal jewels! See what pieces were out and about this week, and vote for your favorite in the poll below!

10. Photographers gave us a good look at the Duchess of Cambridge's Kiki McDonough citrine earrings on Sunday at a ceremony marking the centenary of the end of the Gallipoli campaign.

14 January 2016

Jewel Detective: A Danish/Swedish Royal Wedding (1935)

The gathering of royals was certainly glittering in Stockholm during the wedding celebrations for Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden in 1935. Which royal jewels can you identify?

(Read on for tips on how to make Getty images even larger...)

13 January 2016

The Drapers' Company Brooch

When Princess Maud of Wales married Prince Carl of Denmark in 1896, she received a treasure trove of jewels. At that point, though, she had no idea that her wedding gifts would one day become the cornerstone of a new royal collection. Carl and Maud became King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway in 1905, and her jewels are still some of the most important pieces in the Norwegian vaults. Today, we're looking at one piece in particular: the Drapers' Company Brooch.

Maud's wedding gifts in the Illustrated London News [source]

The illustrated list of Maud's wedding gifts from the Illustrated London News features the brooch in the lower left-hand corner of the page. It is described as a "diamond and pearl ornament to be worn as a brooch or pendant." The gift is attributed to the Drapers' Company.

12 January 2016

Norwegian Royal Weddings: King Haakon VII and Queen Maud

Laurits Tuxen, The Marriage of Princess Maud [source]

In celebration of the upcoming Silver Jubilee of King Harald V of Norway, we're going to look at three of the most important Norwegian royal weddings on the blog this month. First up: a wedding between a Danish prince and a British princess -- who would one day unexpectedly become Norway's king and queen.

In the 1890s, Princess Maud of Wales was one of the most eligible royal women in Europe. Her parents were the Prince and Princess of Wales, which means, of course, that her grandmother was Queen Victoria. Maud was energetic and spirited, and her name was bandied about as a match for several European princes. But Maud had one prince in particular in mind: Francis of Teck, brother of her sister-in-law, the Duchess of York. Unfortunately for Maud, Francis wasn't interested, and in 1895 she finally settled on a different future husband: Prince Carl of Denmark, the second son of the Danish crown prince.

11 January 2016

Jewel History: Mrs. Brown's Diamond Tiara (1892)

Mary Ridgely Preston Brown, ca. 1880 [source]

"Mrs. Brown's Diamond Tiara"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 11 Jan 1892)

Baltimore -- Governor-elect Frank Brown [1] will be inaugurated at Annapolis next Wednesday. It had been his intention to celebrate his induction into office with great pomp and ceremony, and elaborate arrangements were in progress, when a jeweler knocked the program into smithereens.

It appears that Mrs. Brown [2], the governor's wife, who is very wealthy and a leader in society, had sent all her diamonds -- and she has a magnificent collection -- to a jeweler to have them reset and rearranged. She intended wearing them at the reception following the inauguration.

Mary Ridgely Preston Brown, ca. 1875 [source]

The jeweler conceived the idea of setting them in a band and forming a crown. Mrs. Brown at first objected, but was finally persuaded. When the work was completed, and before it was submitted to her, the jeweler sent for the newspaper reporters, showed them the tiara, which certainly was beautiful, and stated that it was to be worn by Mrs. Brown when her husband was inaugurated.

10 January 2016

Vintage Royals: Persian Splendor

Four women of the royal family of Iran -- (seated) Queen Soraya, Princess Ashraf, Princess Shams, and Princess Fatimah -- gather in the 1950s. Princess Ashraf, who was the twin sister of the last Shah of Iran, died on Thursday at the age of 96

09 January 2016

All My Tiaras: The Duchess of Cambridge

Happy birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge! The former Kate Middleton has been royal for almost five years now, and she's starting to wear pieces of important family jewelry. Here's a look at the tiaras she's donned during her royal tenure so far...

Kate officially began her royal life wearing this tiara, which was a wedding anniversary gift from King George VI to the Queen Mother. Made by Cartier in 1936, the tiara made of platinum and set with diamonds. In 1953, it attended another important event at Westminster Abbey, when Princess Margaret wore it to her sister's coronation. Kate has only worn the tiara once so far, on her wedding day, but the fact that her new wedding earrings were made to coordinate with the tiara suggests that it may be a long-term loan.

08 January 2016

New Year's Courts Continue in Denmark

Photo: Christian Meyer, kongehuset.de

Following the tiara-heavy New Year's Levee on January 1 in Copenhagen, two more levees have been attended by the Danish royal family.

At the January 5th reception, Queen Margrethe pinned a diamond brooch among her order insignia and badges.

06 January 2016

Jewels on Film: Trailer for Netflix's The Crown

A short trailer has been released for The Crown, this year's upcoming Netflix series about Queen Elizabeth II. There are lots of replica jewels on show -- here's a look at some of the glimpses we got, plus links to posts on some of the real jewels for comparison purposes...

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, trying on St. Edward's Crown before the 1953 coronation

Princess Grace's Jewels

The Telegraph published an article this week on the jewels of Grace Kelly (aka Princess Grace of Monaco), focusing on the pieces she wore during her engagement and marriage to Prince Rainier. The article highlights jewelry made by two of Grace's favorite jewelry firms: Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels.

Rainier actually purchased two engagement rings from Cartier for Grace. The first was an eternity-style band of alternating diamonds and rubies, mimicking the red and white colors of the Monegasque flag. But the trend for bigger and bigger diamonds in Hollywood convinced Rainier to upgrade to an enormous emerald-cut diamond weighing more than ten carats.

05 January 2016

Jewels on Film: Faberge and the Romanovs

Today I've got two vintage British Pathe film clips for you that feature royal jewelry and jeweled objects. Above, footage from 1950 features several Faberge pieces, including a number of the Romanov imperial eggs and a glimpse of the diamond myrtle wreath tiara from the Westminster collection. Below, 1926 newsreel clips featuring the Russian imperial jewels at the time of the Soviet auction.

04 January 2016

Brooches and Pearls at the Imperial Palace

The Japanese imperial family always makes two public appearances at the start of the new year: a glittering evening reception where the ladies wear tiaras and jewels, and a balcony appearance where they don daytime jewelry. Here's a look at the pieces we saw this year as the emperor greeted the people.

Empress Michiko wore a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, and a bracelet. (You'll start to notice that the pearls are something of a theme; the imperial ladies wear jewelry "uniforms" in the daytime as well as in the evening.)

02 January 2016

New Year Tiaras in Japan


One of the most glittering days on the Japanese imperial calendar is New Year's Day, when the family gathers for the annual New Year's reception at the palace. The family's traditional diamond and pearl jewels were out in force.


Empress Michiko doesn't wear tiaras anymore, because of medical issues with her head/neck/back, but she added a surprising bit of extra glitter this year in the form of an absolutely enormous brooch. Really, it's probably more accurate to call this a devant de corsage, perhaps a remnant of a nineteenth-century stomacher ornament.

New Year Tiaras in Denmark

Photo: Christian Meyer, kongehuset.de

The Danish royals gathered at Amalienborg Palace for the first of the annual New Year's Levees on Friday. Queen Margrethe wore a tiara that has become one of her most-worn pieces: the Pearl Poire Tiara.

01 January 2016

Queen Margrethe Rings in the New Year with Turquoises

Photo: Keld Navntoft for kongehuset.dk

For her annual New Year's Speech, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark chose pieces from her extensive collection of turquoise jewels. She mixed antique and modern pieces for the speech. Her brooch is a legacy from Queen Ingrid. It was a wedding gift in 1905 to Princess Margaret of Connaught, Margrethe's grandmother, from the Duchess of Devonshire. The earrings are part of a modern set that can also be worn with pendants.

You can read the text of the Queen's address here. The biggest revelation from the speech? Prince Henrik will be stepping back from many of his public duties in the new year.

The court has also released information about which royals will be attending this week's New Year's Levees...