14 September 2017

Queen Friederike's Pearl and Diamond Necklace

Queen Friederike wears the necklace with the sapphire pendant (screencapture)

We've been marveling at tiaras worn by the former royal family of Greece all week in our Daily Diadem posts, so I thought it was rather appropriate to spend today discussing an extremely versatile Greek royal jewel: Queen Friederike's convertible pearl and diamond necklace.


We don't know much about the creation of this piece, but its design suggests a mid-20th century date to me. The piece features distinctive diamond and pearl loops, coming to a point at its central element. Above, Friederike wears the necklace at the wedding of Princess Helene d'Orleans and Count Evrard of Limburg-Stirum in 1957.

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That central element can be removed and switched out for other pendants. Queen Friederike did this often; in the portrait above, she's wearing the necklace with a pendant made of a large emerald surrounded by diamonds.

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This particular pendant has stayed with the family; above, Queen Anne-Marie wears it on her own diamond necklace.

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The most notable pendant used by Friederike on the necklace, however, was definitely the gargantuan sapphire that once belonged to Queen Marie of Romania. Friederike wears the sapphire pendant on the necklace here during the 1963 Greek state visit to the United Kingdom, pairing it with Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara. (More on the tiara over here!)


The sapphire is astonishing. Cartier was the gem's first recorded owner; they sold it to King Ferdinand of Romania in 1921. He presented it to his wife, Queen Marie, who had recently lost most of her jewels in Russia during the revolution. She paired it often with another recent acquisition, the Vladimir Sapphire Kokoshnik. (More on that piece over here.) But the Romanian monarchy was eventually toppled, and the sapphire pendant was sold in the 1940s. The buyer, though, was a wealthy Greek citizen, who presented the 478-carat gem to Queen Friederike.

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Although Friederike handed over many of her jewels to her new daughter-in-law, Queen Anne-Marie, in 1964, she kept the necklace and pendants in her own collection. Above, she wears the necklace with the sapphire pendant at King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie's pre-wedding ball.


She took the necklace and the sapphire pendant with her to New York during a 1964 visit to America, too, wearing it again with Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara.

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And here, she wears the necklace with the sapphire pendant at the wedding of Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark and Marina Karella in 1965. Eventually, after the Greek monarchy was also abolished, the sapphire left the family too, most recently selling at auction in 2003 for $1.4 million. (Read a more in-depth look at the sapphire's history over here!)

As for the necklace's whereabouts -- those are unclear. The piece's versatility extended even further; it could be put on a frame and worn as a tiara. Friederike's daughter, Princess Irene, appears to be the last person who wore it in that form in public. Did Irene inherit the necklace? The Greek royals have a track record of hiding pieces away and bringing them out again decades later, so hope isn't totally lost that we'll see the necklace once more.