02 September 2020

Sapphire Spotlight: The Dutch Royal Sapphires

CARL COURT/AFP via Getty Images

Our spectacular survey of royal sapphires travels to Amsterdam today, where we'll look at some of the most important heirloom sapphires in the Dutch royal collection. The Dutch royals like to dismantle and mix-and-match their jewels, so pay attention! There are lots of sapphire combinations to behold here...

Queen Emma of the Netherlands wears her sapphire parure around 1901
Queen Emma, ca. 1900 (Grand Ladies Site)

While the royals own sapphire jewelry in their personal collections, today we're focusing mainly on the family's two grand sapphire parures and the jewels worn to accompany them. The first of these is Queen Emma's Sapphire Parure, with its distinctive and lovely cathedral-like tiara. This is a married parure, made around 1881. It originally included a tiara, a choker-style necklace, a large brooch with a curving bow design, and a pair of matching large bracelets. (For reference, I'll be calling these pieces Queen Emma's Sapphire Tiara, Queen Emma's Sapphire Necklace, Queen Emma's Sapphire Bow Brooch, and Queen Emma's Sapphire Bracelets.)

In the portrait above, taken around 1900, Queen Emma wears all four major parts of the set: the tiara, necklace, stomacher, and bracelets. To the necklace, she has also added another jewel: an oval-shaped diamond and sapphire pendant. The pendant, which can also be worn as a brooch, was Emma's engagement gift from her future husband, King Willem III, in 1879. (We'll simply call it Queen Emma's Engagement Pendant here.) There's also an additional bracelet added on her left wrist, plus a long diamond riviere stretched across the bodice of her gown.

Queen Beatrix, 1981 (Rob C. Croes/Anefo/Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons)

Here's another look at Queen Emma's Engagement Pendant, worn suspended from a diamond bow brooch by Queen Beatrix on Prinsjesdag in September 1981.

Princess Juliana, 1937 (Wikimedia Commons)

Queen Emma left the parure to her granddaughter, Queen Juliana, who placed it in the family's jewelry foundation. (That's where virtually all of the jewels featured in this post reside now.) Juliana wore her grandmother's sapphires for this striking portrait, taken by Franz Ziegler in 1937. All of the major pieces from Queen Emma's Sapphire Parure are included here: her tiara (which had been refurbished), her necklace (which had been lengthened), her bow brooch, and one of her bracelets. With one exception -- the necklace -- all of these jewels are still worn in this form today.

Princess Beatrix, 2014 (Michel Porro/Getty Images)

In recent years, Queen Emma's Sapphire Necklace has been altered to make a completely different jewel: the Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara. The base of the piece matches the design of Queen Emma's original necklace, but it's also been supplemented by lozenge elements taken from a necklace that belonged to the other major Dutch royal sapphire suite: Queen Wilhelmina's Wedding Gift Parure.

Queen Wilhelmina, ca. 1901 (Grand Ladies Site)

As the name suggests, Queen Wilhelmina's Wedding Gift Parure was the national wedding present from the people of the Netherlands to Queen Wilhelmina in 1901. The set featured a towering diamond and sapphire tiara, a mirrored sapphire and diamond necklace, and a pair of sapphire and diamond bracelets. (We'll refer to these in the rest of the post simply as Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Tiara, Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Necklace, and Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bracelets.)

Wilhelmina often also wore the set with a large diamond bow brooch with a rectangular sapphire in the center; it too was made around 1900, and could be worn with a sapphire pendant drop. (We'll call it Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bow Brooch.) In the formal portrait above, a young Wilhelmina wears her tiara and necklace with her bow brooch.

Queen Wilhelmina, ca. 1930s (Wikimedia Commons)

This portrait shows Queen Wilhelmina wearing her sapphire parure three decades later, in the 1930s. You'll note her tiara, necklace, and one of the bracelets, as well as her bow brooch. The bracelets are the only part of the parure which are still worn today (albeit in a slightly altered form). As mentioned above, parts of Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Necklace were used to make the new Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara. Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Tiara was also dismantled, and the gems were used to make other pieces of jewelry, including earrings and brooches.

Queen Maxima, 2016 (FRANK VAN BEEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Here's one of the pairs of earrings made from Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Tiara: the Sapphire Figure Eight Earrings. Queen Maxima wore them above on Prinsjesdag in September 2016.

Princess Laurentien, 2013 (LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP via Getty Images)

Princess Laurentien wore the Sapphire Figure Eight Earrings on Prinsjesdag in September 2013. She paired them with Queen Emma's Engagement Pendant, worn as a standalone brooch.

Queen Maxima, 2016 (FRANK VAN BEEK/AFP via Getty Images)

For Prinsjesdag in 2016, Queen Maxima also wore Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bow Brooch, with its distinctive rectangular sapphire center.

Queen Maxima, 2013 (ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP via Getty Images)

And here's another pair of earrings made from Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Tiara: the Diamond Cluster and Sapphire Drop Earrings, most famously worn in recent years by Queen Maxima during King Willem-Alexander's inauguration in April 2013.

Queen Maxima, 2013 (Robin Utrecht-Pool/Getty Images)

On that occasion, Queen Maxima wore a smaller setting of Queen Emma's Sapphire Tiara, as well as a large oval sapphire and diamond cluster suspended from a diamond bow. The provenance of the brooch is apparently uncertain, though the large sapphire certainly resembles the one in Queen Emma's Sapphire Stomacher. (This diamond bow is the same one used above by Queen Beatrix with Queen Emma's Engagement Pendant.)

Princess Beatrix, 2013 (Robin Utrecht-Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Beatrix also wore sapphires for her son's inauguration in April 2013. Her sapphire earrings are personally owned, but she also wore Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bracelets, as well as the family's Round Sapphire and Diamond Brooch. This brooch, which dates to the 1930s, was apparently originally set with an emerald.

Princess Maxima, 2010 (Patrick van Katwijk/DPA Picture Alliance Archive/Alamy)

In April 2010, Princess Maxima wore the Round Sapphire and Diamond Brooch (with the family's sapphire pendant, used on both Queen Emma's Sapphire Bow Brooch and Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bow Brooch) for a gala in honor of the 70th birthday of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. She also wore the Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara, the Sapphire Figure Eight Earrings, and Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bracelets.

Queen Maxima, 2015 (Niels Ahlmann Olesen/AFP via Getty Images)

Queen Maxima has been the primary wearer of the family's heirloom sapphires in recent years. In March 2015, she wore the full setting of Queen Emma's Sapphire Tiara, plus the Diamond Cluster and Sapphire Drop Earrings, for a banquet in Copenhagen during the Danish state visit. On that occasion, she also wore the oval sapphire pendant suspended from a diamond and sapphire wing ornament.

Queen Maxima, 2017 (HAAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

In Oslo in May 2017, she wore Queen Emma's Sapphire Tiara again, as well as Queen Emma's Sapphire Bow Brooch, for the 80th birthday celebrations for King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway. She also wore the Sapphire Figure Eight Earrings.

Queen Maxima, 2017 (Patrick van Katwijk/Dutch Photo Press/DPA/Alamy)

She finished off the look with both of Queen Emma's Sapphire Bracelets -- which means that she was wearing all three remaining components of Queen Emma's married parure of sapphires.

Queen Maxima, 2017 (JON OLAV NESVOLD/AFP via Getty Images)

For the second birthday celebration dinner during the Oslo trip, Maxima wore even more heirloom sapphires. With Queen Wilhelmina's Sapphire Bow Brooch, she wore the sapphire setting of the family's Diamond Trellis Necklace. (The necklace, made around 1900, was Queen Emma's wedding present to her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina.) And, just to make things even more interesting, she made an unexpected earring choice -- wearing the long earrings from the Mellerio Ruby Parure with sapphire drops in place of their usual diamond and ruby clusters. Seriously: is any other royal family more innovative with their jewels than the Dutch royals???