Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden had a jewelry box full of lovely and classic tiaras, necklaces, and brooches—and some more unusual pieces, too. Today’s jewel, her scarab necklace, is an antique piece that falls into both categories.
The seed pearl necklace’s scarab elements are made of emerald, ruby, and sapphire cabochon stones topped with diamond “M” shapes. The jewel was made by Koch, the court jeweler based in Frankfurt, in 1905. It was a wedding gift to Princess Margaret of Connaught from her new parents-in-law, Crown Prince Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden (later King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria).
The unusual necklace had a sentimental design that reflected Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Margaret’s whirlwind courtship. The scarab is a traditional Egyptian symbol, and it was in Cairo that Margaret had met her future husband. Gustaf Adolf even proposed in Egypt, during at a dinner at the British consulate. A necklace featuring beetles that were sacred to ancient Egyptians would therefore have been a rather romantic gift for the princess.
After Margaret’s untimely death in 1920, her jewels were divided among her children. The scarab necklace was inherited by her fourth child, Prince Bertil. His wife, Princess Lilian, was frequently seen in the scarab necklace at white-tie events in Sweden, including the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies. She often paired the necklace with another jewel inherited from Crown Princess Margareta: the Boucheron Laurel Wreath Tiara.
Bertil and Lilian married late in life (because of complicated problems with her previous divorce and his duty to remain in the line of succession) and had no children of their own, so Lilian’s important jewels were left to other members of the Swedish royal family. Historian Trond Norén Isaksen notes that Lilian left “a rather unusual necklace of five row of pearls adorned with large rubies, emeralds and sapphires as centre stones” to Queen Silvia of Sweden.