03 September 2020

Sapphire Spotlight: The Danish Royal Sapphires

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark wears sapphire and diamond jewels

After marveling at the sapphire collections of the British and Dutch royals, today we're dropping by Copenhagen to take a look at the sapphires worn by the Danish royal family -- and the reasons why they don't have more of them!

Queen Alexandrine of Denmark wearing jewels
Queen Alexandrine (Royal Danish Collection)

Most of Denmark's royal sapphires come from a fairly recent source: Queen Alexandrine, the grandmother of Queen Margrethe II. Through her marriage to King Christian X of Denmark, Alexandrine was queen consort from 1912 until her husband's death in 1947. She was born a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, but she had grander imperial roots: her mother was a Romanov grand duchess. Many of Alexandrine's jewels, including at least some of her sapphires, had Russian origins. In the portrait above, she wears her diamond fringe tiara with her grand sapphire and diamond corsage ornament.

Queen Margrethe wearing her sapphires
Queen Margrethe, 2016 (LISE AASERUD/AFP via Getty Images)

Queen Alexandrine's diamond and sapphire stomacher was later broken up to make a demi-parure of sapphire and diamond jewels. The set, which now belongs to Queen Margrethe II, includes a necklace, earrings, and a brooch. Above, she wears the necklace and earrings during King Harald V of Norway's Silver Jubilee in January 2016. The suite is also versatile and adaptable, and Margrethe often plays around with different configurations, wearing some of the pieces as hair pins and attaching a marquise-shaped pendant to the brooch. She also frequently wears a sapphire ring with the set.

Queen Margrethe wearing her sapphires
Queen Margrethe, 2012 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Here's a look at the necklace with that extra pendant attached. Queen Margrethe wore it this way in May 2012 for a special occasion: a dinner for foreign sovereigns to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom's Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece
Queen Margrethe and Queen Anne-Marie, 2011 (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

And here's one more view of the sapphires with the same daisy dress, worn in Germany in June 2011 for the wedding of her niece, Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.

Queen Alexandrine's Sapphire Tiara
Queen Alexandrine's Sapphire Tiara, 2018 (Bruun Rasmussen)

Queen Alexandrine also had a striking diamond and sapphire tiara. Made by Bolin in 1898, the jewel was a wedding gift from Alexandrine's Russian cousins, Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra. Though some of Alexandrine's sapphires remain with the main line of the Danish royal family today, this tiara took a different path. Queen Alexandrine gave it as a wedding present to her new daughter-in-law, Princess Caroline-Mathilde, in 1933. She was the wife of Hereditary Prince Knud, the younger brother of King Frederik IX. Knud and Caroline-Mathilde's descendants owned the tiara until 2018, when they sold it at auction. Happily, though, it's still in Copenhagen, on display at the museum at Amalienborg Palace.

Princess Marie of Denmark
Princess Marie, April 2010 (Schiller Graphics/Getty Images)

One more sapphire jewel from Queen Alexandrine's collection, her diamond and sapphire pendant, remains with the royal family today. The piece is often worn as both a brooch and a pendant by Princess Marie, Queen Margrethe's daughter-in-law. Above, she wears it suspended from a delicate chain during the celebrations for Queen Margrethe's 70th birthday in April 2010.

Princess Marie of Denmark
Princess Marie, 2018 (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Princess Marie also recently added two more sapphire pieces to her personal jewelry collection. She helped design the Nuits Claires Tiara, as well as its coordinating ring, with jewelers from Maison Mauboussin. The set includes sapphires sprinkled throughout, including a large pear-shaped Ceylon sapphire in the center of the tiara. Marie debuted the set, which she has use of through an exclusive long-term loan from the jeweler, during the French state visit to Denmark in August 2018.

Princess Elisabeth of Denmark
Princess Elisabeth, 2012 (Patrick van Katwijk/DPA Picture Alliance Archive/Alamy)

There's one more Danish royal sapphire tiara that (at least until recently) resided with a cadet branch of the family. Princess Thyra's Sapphire Tiara, originally owned by Queen Alexandrine's sister-in-law, Princess Thyra, was likely made in the early twentieth century. Princess Thyra left it to Princess Caroline-Mathilde (with of Hereditary Prince Knud, who also received Queen Alexandrine's Sapphire Tiara). Until a few years ago, the tiara was worn by Caroline-Mathilde's daughter, Princess Elisabeth of Denmark. (Above, Elisabeth wears the tiara during Queen Margrethe II's Ruby Jubilee festivities in January 2012.) She passed away in 2018, and we don't yet know the fate of this family heirloom.

Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
Princess Benedikte, 2010 (Schiller Graphics/Getty Images)

Princess Thyra also had a gorgeous oval-shaped diamond and sapphire brooch. She bequeathed the jewel to Queen Ingrid, wife of her nephew, King Frederik IX. Today, the piece is worn by Ingrid's daughter, Princess Benedikte, who uses it as both a brooch and a pendant. Above, she wears the jewel suspended from a diamond riviere during the celebrations for Queen Margrethe's 70th birthday in April 2010.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Queen Margrethe, 2010 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Queen Margrethe's collection includes some significant sapphire brooches, too. This diamond and sapphire fleur-de-lis brooch was worn by Queen Ingrid and is now used by Queen Margrethe. She usually wears the piece as a brooch, but on the occasion above (the wedding of her nephew, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, in August 2010), she wore it as an enhancer on a pearl necklace.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Queen Margrethe, 2007 (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Margrethe also often wears a stunning diamond and sapphire anchor brooch. This brooch doesn't appear to have a documented provenance, though a similar one was owned by Queen Alexandrine (and was inherited by Princess Elisabeth). Above, Margrethe wears the brooch during a visit to South Korea in October 2007.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
Crown Princess Mary, 2011 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

One of the most beautiful and sentimental sapphires in the Danish royal collection currently belongs to Crown Princess Mary. The Connaught Sapphire Brooch, made of diamonds, pearls, and a large sapphire, originally belonged to the Duchess of Connaught. It was inherited by her daughter, Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden, and then traveled to Denmark with her daughter, Queen Ingrid.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Christian
Crown Princess Mary and Prince Christian, 2006 (HENNING BAGGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Queen Margrethe inherited the brooch from her mother. In 2006, she gave it to her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary, as a present to mark the birth of Prince Christian. Mary wore it for the christenings of both Prince Christian in January 2006 and Prince Vincent and Princess Isabella in April 2011. She also wears the jewel for more general occasions, too.