There’s been a delightful jewelry trend emerging in Belgium over the past several months: acquisition of antique and vintage jewelry by the royal family. Queen Mathilde recently wore yet another vintage pair of earrings to add to that list.
On November 15, Queen Mathilde joined King Albert II and Queen Paola at an awards ceremony and gala dinner in Brussels to mark the 20th anniversary of the charity Missing Children Europe.
The evening was also a passing of the torch. Queen Paola has been patron of the organization for years, and at the ceremony, she handed over the patronage to her daughter-in-law.
Sightings of Queen Paola are fairly rare these days, as she’s been struggling on and off with health challenges. It was great to see her looking lovely in pearls for the dinner.
But Queen Mathilde’s earrings were the jewels that caught everyone’s eye on this occasion. They’re vintage jewels from the house of René Boivin.
The earrings are made of diamonds and gold and another rare material: ebony. That particular wood is harvested from tree species that are considered to be threatened, so it’s increasingly rare to see it used today. And it’s especially unusual to see it used in jewelry, though the use of unique materials and designs has been a hallmark of Boivin for decades.
Boivin himself founded the jewelry firm in the 1890s and passed away in 1917. A succession of jewelers then became associated with the company, notably Suzanne Belperron. In the ’70s and ’80s, Marie-Caroline de Brosses created jewelry for the firm, shortly before it was sold to Asprey, and the Queen Mathilde website attributes the earrings to her. The design style certainly speaks to that era.
The earrings were sold at auction by Christie’s in Paris on June 6, 2018. The lot notes describe them as “triangular in shape, each punctuated with three rows of round diamonds.” They bear French hallmarks and are signed by Boivin. They sold for 9375 euros, almost double the high end of the auction estimate (3000-5000 euros).
We don’t know the identity of the purchaser from the 2018 auction. Either the Belgian royals bought the earrings at that time, or they acquired them from one of the owners sometime afterward. We’ve seen numerous antique and vintage pieces added to the Belgian collection recently, including Princess Elisabeth’s diamond tiara and Queen Mathilde’s diamond bow brooch. I’m very much in favor of this trend!