Queen Anne-Marie wasn’t the only royal lady wearing grand heirloom emeralds during the Ruby Jubilee celebrations in Copenhagen in 2012. Here’s a closer look at the emeralds worn by Queen Sonja of Norway for the grand gala dinner!
For Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s Ruby Jubilee gala dinner at Christiansborg Palace in January 2012, Queen Sonja of Norway chose one of the grandest suites of jewelry in the Norwegian royal vaults: their diamond and emerald parure. The set, appropriately, has links to the larger Scandinavian royal family. Made in the first decades of the nineteenth century, the emeralds belonged to the Leuchtenberg family, traveling to Brazil with Empress Amelie before ending up in Sweden with Queen Josefina.
Queen Sofia of Sweden left the emeralds to her daughter-in-law, Princess Ingeborg. She’s the one who earmarked them for the use of her daughter, Crown Princess Martha of Norway. They’ve been in the Norwegian royal collection since Ingeborg’s death, and now they’re worn exclusively by Queen Sonja. On this occasion, she wore the emeralds with a lovely white gown covered in sparkling leaf appliques that are edged in golden thread.
During Princess Ingeborg’s lifetime, one alteration was made to the tiara. The two pear-shaped emerald and diamond clusters were removed from either side of the tiara’s rectangular central emerald. The emeralds were replaced by diamond anthemions, and the clusters were then repurposed as earrings. Nearly every time I write about this suite, readers express the wish that the pear-shaped emeralds could be replaced. But I’m going to say something mildly controversial: I think the tiara was a bit too crowded in its original iteration, and I don’t mind the current version, even with the taller central emerald (!).
For the jubilee gala dinner, Queen Sonja wore the majority of the parure’s pieces: the tiara, the earrings, the large brooch, and the necklace (without its pendant). She also added one of her personal jewelry touches: a stack of golden bangles on her left wrist.
Here’s a lovely detailed view of the emeralds, as well as the detail of Sonja’s gown.
Like the other royals present at the dinner, Sonja was also draped in chivalric orders and decorations. She wore the collar and star of her highest-ranking Danish decoration, the Order of the Elephant, as well as the sash and star of her highest-ranking Norwegian order, the Order of St. Olav. She’s also wearing the Royal Family Order of her husband, King Harald V of Norway, and she has several other miniature medals pinned to her gown.
The guests at this dinner also got a new decoration: a commemorative Ruby Jubilee medal, which is what Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark are looking at in this photograph. I also really like this image for two other reasons. First, we get a glimpse of a diamond and cabochon emerald ring on Sonja’s right hand. Second, the photo gives you a good idea of how much lighting affects our perception of the color of gemstones. Look how blue the emeralds look here compared with the other photographs from the same occasion! So interesting.