15 October 2020

Joyas de Pasar: The Necklaces

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Our journey through the Spanish royal family's grandest jewelry collection, the joyas de pasar, arrives today at a lovely section of the jewelry box: the joyas necklaces. Here's a closer look at all three necklaces from Queen Ena's important collection.

Queen Ena in a portrait by Isidro Fernández Fuentes, ca. 1914 (Grand Ladies Site)

Queen Ena of Spain's jewelry box housed a whole lot of necklaces, made of diamonds, pearls, and other gems. But in her will, she designated three necklaces in particular as part of the joyas de pasar collection, which was intended to pass directly from monarch to monarch.

Queen Ena, ca. 1922 (Grand Ladies Site)

The grandest and most recognizable of these necklaces is the diamond collet necklace, described in Ena's will as "el collar de chatones más grande." The necklace, which was worn by Ena in various lengths, was a wedding gift from her husband, King Alfonso XIII. Above, she wears the long diamond necklace with a shorter necklace made of emeralds inherited from Empress Eugenie of France. (You'll also recognize two more pieces from the joyas collection in the portrait: the tiara and the earrings.)

Queen Ena, ca. 1918 (Grand Ladies Site)

Queen Ena also paired the diamond necklace with other suites of jewelry. Here, she wears it with her turquoise parure. The joyas necklace lines the bodice of her gown, which was designed by Worth. (She's also wearing the joyas diamond earrings.) The length of the necklace changed various times during Ena's tenure as its owner, and it has also changed in subsequent years, making it seem likely that collets can easily be removed from or added to the piece to alter the length.

Queen Sofia at the Danish royal wedding, May 2004 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Queen Sofia of Spain began wearing the necklace a few years into the reign of her husband, King Juan Carlos. (Why did she wait? It's explained over here.) Above, she wears the necklace at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in May 2004. She also wears Queen Ena's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, plus the joyas earrings and bracelets.

Queen Sofia at the Mexican state banquet, June 2014 (Pool/Getty Images)

In June 2014, just before King Juan Carlos's abdication, Queen Sofia wore the necklace for the final time. The occasion was a state banquet in Madrid in honor of the President of Mexico. She wore the necklace with several other joyas pieces: the tiara, the diamond earrings, and the diamond bracelets.

Queen Letizia in Tokyo, October 2019 (Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)

Though King Felipe and Queen Letizia inherited the joyas de pasar when he became monarch in 2014, she waited more than five years to wear the diamond necklace from the set in public. Her first outing in the piece came in October 2019, when she wore it for the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan in Tokyo. The necklace appeared to have been substantially shortened, and some of the extra collets used to make a matching bracelet. Along with the diamonds, she also wore Queen Sofia's emerald earrings.

Queen Ena with her daughter, Infanta Maria Cristina, ca. 1912 (Grand Ladies Site)

Along with the diamond necklace, the joyas de pasar collection also includes two pearl necklaces. The first is described in Ena's will as "cuatro hilos de perlas grandes," or four strands of large pearls. Queen Ena's jewelry box was packed with pearl necklaces, and it's never been clear to me precisely which four-stranded pearl necklace belongs to the joyas grouping. For example, she wears a four-stranded pearl necklace in the photo above, taken in 1912, but the pearls in the piece could hardly be described as "grandes." I suspect that this four-stranded pearl necklace, worn with several other joyas pieces for a 1956 Life Magazine portrait, may be the actual necklace in question.

Portrait of Queen Ena by de László, ca. 1910 (Grand Ladies Site)

The third necklace from the collection is described much more precisely: "el collar con treinta y siete perlas grandes," or a necklace made of 37 large pearls. This was another wedding present from King Alfonso XIII to Queen Ena. I believe this is the necklace she is wearing in the 1910 portrait painted by de László.

Queen Sofia at the Vatican, April 2005 (Giuseppe Cacace/Getty Images)

Pearl necklaces can be notoriously difficult to tell apart, but the size and precise length of this necklace makes it a little easier to identify. Above, Queen Sofia wears the necklace for Pope Benedict XVI's inaugural mass in April 2005.

Queen Sofia in Madrid, October 2001 (MARC ALEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Sofia often wore the necklace with another piece from the joyas collection: the pearl drop known as La Peregrina II. (Queen Ena confused the pearl with the real La Peregrina -- more on that over here.) Though the pearl drop was part of a brooch in Queen Ena's day, Queen Sofia has almost always worn it as a pendant on a necklace -- quite often using it with the 37 Pearl Necklace. Above, she wears the two pieces together, along with pearl drop earrings, a diamond bow brooch, and the Mellerio Shell Tiara, during a gala dinner for the President of Mexico in October 2001.

Queen Sofia in Japan, November 2008 (Koji Sasahara/Getty Images)

And here, Queen Sofia wears the necklace with the pendant during the state visit to Japan in November 2008. She's also wearing pearl drop earrings and, of course, La Buena.

Queen Letizia in Madrid, October 2018 (ANDREA COMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

In October 2018, Queen Letizia wore the 37 Pearl Necklace for the first time (without La Peregrina II) for an official dinner in Madrid in honor of the President of Germany. You'll note that she wore the necklace with the diamond clasp deliberately showing, placing the largest pearls off to one side. In fact, the only pieces from the joyas collection that's she's still not worn are La Peregrina II and the four-strand pearl necklace!