29 February 2016

The Top Ten: Royal Amethysts

Happy Leap Day, magpies! Since we've got one extra day this year to marvel at February's birthstone, I thought it was only right to present you with ten of my favorite royal amethyst pieces. Let me know how you'd rank your list in the comments below!

10. The Flora Danica Tiara

Made by Flora Danica for the exclusive use of Princess Marie of Denmark, this tiara, made of silver lilies, features a row of amethyst beads at its base.

9. The Norwegian Amethyst Parure

This parure, which is most notable for its convertible necklace/tiara, has been worn by all three of the senior Norwegian royal ladies: Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Martha Louise.

8. The Duchess of Cornwall's Amethysts

Camilla wears a gorgeous pearl, diamond, and amethyst necklace with a large heart-shaped amethyst pendant. The necklace was a wedding present to the Queen Mother from Queen Alexandra; Camilla often pairs it with coordinating amethyst earrings.

7. The Nassau Amethysts

The vast Luxembourg jewel vaults contain not one but two amethyst tiaras. One is a bandeau that features oval-cut stones, while the other includes rectangular gems. Both are regularly worn by the ladies of the grand ducal family, often with a beautiful amethyst necklace and earrings.

6. Queen Mary's Amethyst Necklace

Sadly, Queen Mary's amethyst necklace and tiara are no longer with the Windsors; they were sold at auction. However, the lovely necklace from the set still exists; it's even been worn once at a gala at the Victoria and Albert Museum by Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

5. The Duchess of Windsor's Cartier Bib Necklace

This astonishing amethyst, turquoise, and diamond necklace was made for the Duchess of Windsor by Cartier in 1947. It's often featured today in museum exhibitions.

4. The Bavarian Amethyst Demi-Parure

In 2013, Sotheby's auctioned this amethyst and diamond demi-parure. The nineteenth-century set was sold by members of the former royal family of Bavaria; auction notes indicated that the family called it "Queen Amalia's Parure," after the former Bavarian queen of Greece.

One of the oldest sets of jewels in the Windsor collection is this amethyst demi-parure, which belonged to Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent. The Queen rarely wears the complete set, but she does occasionally sport one of the brooches.

2. Queen Alexandra's Amethysts

I'm extremely partial to the set of amethysts that belonged to Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom. Sadly, they're no longer with the family -- they were auctioned by the family of Princess Maud, Countess of Southesk -- but the incredible, convertible geometric floral necklace is a showstopper.

No amethyst set in any current royal collection can hold a candle to the Bernadotte family's parure, which dates to the Napoleonic era and features enormous purple gemstones. The circlet may be difficult to wear, but when they get it right, it's magical.