Our final pearly bride in our week of Sparkling Spotlights features one of the most unique royal wedding tiaras of all! Here’s a closer look at the Napoleonic pearls worn by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden on her wedding day.
On June 19, 2010—eleven years ago tomorrow—Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden married her longtime partner, Daniel Westling. The pair were wed in a ceremony at Stockholm’s recently-refurbished cathedral before more than a thousand guests. Victoria chose an off-the-shoulder gown by Swedish designer Pär Engsheden for the wedding.
She also wore an antique lace veil for the celebration. The Brussels lace veil originally belonged to Queen Sofia of Sweden, who wore it on her wedding day in 1858. Several other royal brides in the family have also worn the veil, including Victoria’s mother, Queen Silvia, and her grandmother, Princess Sibylla.
Victoria secured the veil with a unique tiara that has also been worn by several Swedish royal brides. The Cameo Tiara, made of gold and pearls, features hand-carved cameos that date to the Napoleonic era. Indeed, the tiara originally belonged to Napoleon’s first wife, Empress Josephine, and he commissioned the cameos himself. In a recent documentary about Sweden’s royal jewels, Crown Princess Victoria admitted that she has “a little extra respect” for this particular tiara, given its age, its apparently fragile state, and its use at important occasions.
Though the diadem has been a part of various Swedish royal collections for more than a century, it wasn’t used as a wedding tiara until 1961, when Victoria’s aunt, Princess Birgitta, wore it for her civil marriage ceremony in Stockholm. Since then, it has also been worn by another aunt, Princess Desiree. Most importantly, it was the bridal diadem worn by Victoria’s mother, Queen Silvia, in 1976.
We talk about this tiara quite a lot, because of its importance and its fascinating history, and we often focus on the cameos themselves. But I think this is a great opportunity to really focus on the delicate seed pearls used in the tiara. In a diadem that totally lacks diamonds, the pearls are used in the same ways that sparkling gemstones would be: to fill in designs like the tiara’s anthemions, to serve as borders to other design elements, and to line the base of the tiara. While diamonds offer immense sparkle, the use of pearls here softens the entire piece, making it calmer and arguably more luminous.
Diamonds are incorporated into many of the other pieces of the Cameo Parure, including the earrings and bracelet, which were both worn by Victoria on her wedding day. The bracelet, though, continues the seed pearl theme of the tiara, with four rows of tiny pearls connecting the piece’s large cameos.
Here’s one more look at our final pearly bride of the week on her wedding day. Victoria and Daniel have, by all accounts, had an exceptionally successful royal marriage. They have two children, Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar, and they carry out a regular slate of royal engagements on behalf of her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf. When they celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary tomorrow, they’ll surely be looking back on some of the gorgeous pictures from their wedding, including Victoria’s beautiful heirloom pearls.