Drumroll, please! The top spot in our countdown of the best royal jewels of 2021 is … the spectacular return of the Cameo Tiara in Sweden!
After a wait of more than a decade, the Swedish Cameo Tiara was worn again in public this year. The magnificent, unusual tiara, which is made of gold and set with pearls and intricate cameos, is believed to have been a gift from Napoleon to Josephine in 1809. The cameos were carved by some of Napoleon’s favorite artisans, and they depict scenes from Greco-Roman mythology.
The tiara was passed down through Empress Josephine’s descendants, arriving in Stockholm with her granddaughter, Queen Josefina. It’s been owned by members of the Swedish royal family ever since, and it’s now the personal property of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
The two most recent generations of the Bernadotte family have embraced the Cameo Tiara as a bridal diadem. Two of the king’s sisters wore the tiara on their wedding days, and in 1976, Queen Silvia wore it with her wedding gown as well.
She’s been the primary wearer of the fragile antique tiara ever since, donning it for occasions like state banquets and the annual Nobel Prize celebrations each December. Above, she wears it at the Nobels in 2005.
Queen Silvia’s most recent appearance in the tiara, if my calculations are correct, came in November 2007, when she wore it during a state visit to Austria.
Three years later, in June 2010, Crown Princess Victoria famously wore the tiara for her own wedding ceremony in Stockholm. Until the outing this November, that bridal appearance was the last public wearing of the tiara.
But members of the family had worn other pieces of the suite. In December 2014, Queen Silvia wore pieces from the parure for a state dinner in France. The suite of French royal jewels was a very appropriate choice for the occasion!
And in June 2018, Princess Madeleine wore the earrings from the Cameo Parure for the christening of her youngest child, Princess Adrienne, in Stockholm.
But the tiara had remained in the royal vaults, except when it was photographed for documentary purposes, until this November. Queen Silvia gave us all a pleasant surprise when she appeared in the tiara as the Swedish royals hosted a state banquet for King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.
She didn’t wear the complete parure—no necklace or earrings—but no matter. It was just wonderful to see the 200-year-old tiara gleaming on a royal head once more!