If you’re on the lookout today for jewels that belonged to members of the imperial family of France, you’d best look not only in the Louvre but also in the family foundation of the Bernadottes, the royal family of Sweden. Like many of their grandest pieces, the gorgeous sapphires in their collection started out in nineteenth-century France.
The parure includes a number of impressive sapphire and diamond pieces, including the tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings, a brooch, and a set of hair ornaments. The tiara features diamond floral motifs topped by eleven sapphires. We’ve talked about the inflexibility of some tiaras, but this one is the polar opposite. The base is so flexible that the tiara lays completely flat when stored, making it both easy to transport and easy to wear.
Queen Silvia talks about the sapphire parure, including the flexibility of the tiara, in this excellent documentary on royal jewels. The sapphires on the tiara can also be removed, and some believe that they were at one time interchanged for a set of large, pear-shaped pearls.
|Josephine of Leuchtenberg|
|Victoria of Baden|
Even though they are theoretically available to all of the Bernadotte ladies, the sapphires have largely continued to be worn by Swedish queens. Queen Louise, the second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf, made the sapphire tiara one of her signature pieces. But after her death in 1965, the country was without a queen for more than a decade. During that time, the sapphires were worn by Princess Sibylla, the mother of the current king, who served as first lady for her father-in-law. The set was also worn by Princess Birgitta at the wedding of the present king and queen in 1976.
Since then, however, the sapphires have been used exclusively by Queen Silvia. The set is majestic, beautiful, easy to wear, versatile, and historic, so it’s easy to understand why it has become one of her most-used tiaras. I think we’ll be seeing this one on Silvia at major royal occasions for years to come! 
NOTES, PHOTO CREDITS, AND LINKS
1. Queen Silvia wears the sapphires at the Nobel Prize Ceremony on December 10, 1978.
2. Queen Silvia wears the sapphires at the Palace of Versailles on June 17, 1980.
3. Queen Silvia wears the sapphires at the Nobel Prize Ceremony on December 10, 2006.
4. Queen Silvia wears the sapphires at the Nobel Prize Ceremony on December 10, 2001.
5. Queen Josefina wears the sapphires in a portrait available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
6. Queen Victoria wears the sapphires in a photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
7. Queen Louise (then crown princess) wears the sapphires during the celebrations of King Gustaf V of Sweden’s 80th birthday in 1938; the man sitting beside her is King Haakon VII of Norway.
8. Queen Silvia wears the sapphires at a state banquet in Stockholm on April 14, 2008.
9. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in December 2013.