March is the month of the mighty aquamarine, the sea-colored birthstone that can be paired with almost anything. One of the most glamorous royal suites of aquamarine jewels can be found in the Netherlands, where they were collected by the late Queen Juliana.
Let’s go piece by piece through the set, shall we? The suite is a married parure, which means that the jewels are similar, and generally worn together as a set, but weren’t made as matching or coordinating pieces. Queen Juliana’s collection began on her 18th birthday—April 30, 1927, when she received this aquamarine and diamond tiara as a gift from her parents, Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik.
The tiara, which was made by the Dutch jewelry firm of Kempen, Begeer, & Vos, has a distinct Art Deco design. Seven briolette-cut aquamarines are placed atop a base of geometric, interlocking diamond and aquamarine sections. Appropriately for its era, the tiara is made of platinum. It can be worn both traditionally atop the head or across the forehead as a bandeau.
Queen Juliana’s birthday gift haul that year also included an elaborate diamond and aquamarine necklace, a present from her grandmother, Queen Emma. The necklace can be worn in various lengths, including a dramatic sautoir setting and two shorter versions (including the setting shown here). The piece features large aquamarines interspersed by diamond floral elements, linked together by a three-row diamond chain design.
When the necklace is worn in one of its shorter settings, the removed section can be worn as a matching bracelet.
On January 7, 1937, Queen Juliana married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in an elaborate ceremony in The Hague. She received a treasure trove of wedding gifts to celebrate her marriage. Her new mother-in-law, Princess Armgard, gave her a pair of earrings with gorgeous briolette-cut aquamarine drops. The cut of the aquamarines matches beautifully with the toppers on Juliana’s aquamarine tiara.
The drops can be worn as pendants on a variety of different pairs of earrings, make them an especially versatile addition to Juliana’s collection of aquamarine jewels.
Queen Juliana also received an aquamarine wedding gift from her new husband, Prince Bernhard. He presented her with a rectangular brooch, also in the Art Deco style. It features a large rectangular aquamarine flanked by smaller baguette-cut stones.
Here’s another look at the Art Deco brooch. You’ll often see the women of the royal family using it to secure their order sashes, or even pinning it at their waist as a buckle-like detail.
Juliana’s wedding gift haul also included a remarkable pear-shaped aquamarine pendant, placed in a setting with a slender diamond halo. When Juliana received the pendant, it was suspended from a long, thin chain, so that it could be worn as a sautoir. Over the years, family members have worn the pendant on different necklaces, and they’ve also worn it with various diamond brooches.
And speaking of brooches: Juliana’s aquamarine collection expanded in 1962, when Prince Bernhard presented her with this diamond and aquamarine brooch as a 25th wedding anniversary gift. The impressively large aquamarine is bordered by a diamond setting with a floral design.
And finally, for this roundup anyway, Juliana also owned and wore a bracelet set with a single rectangular aquamarine. The jewel was later apparently given to her youngest daughter, Princess Christina, who passed away in 2019.
Let’s look at some of the different ways that these aquamarine pieces have been worn by the ladies of the Dutch royal family over the past three generations, starting with Queen Juliana herself. Juliana was married just two years before the start of World War II, so she didn’t have many jewelry-wearing opportunities during the early years of her marriage.
But following the end of the war in 1945, and her mother’s abdication in 1948, Juliana was able to break out the bling. Here, she wears the aquamarine sautoir necklace with the briolette-cut earrings, the wedding gift brooch, and the bracelet for an event in Amsterdam in 1949.
Juliana poses here for a formal portrait to mark the 18th birthday of her eldest daughter, Princess Beatrix, in 1956. She wears the aquamarine drop earrings, the aquamarine pendant necklace, and the aquamarine bracelet.
In May 1957, Juliana and Bernhard headed to Stockholm for a grand state visit with the Swedish royals. During the return dinner that the Dutch couple hosted, Juliana wore the aquamarine tiara and earrings. She also added other diamond pieces, including the original Dutch East Indies Bracelet. (In the background, you’ll spot two Swedish tiaras: Princess Margaretha in Queen Louise’s Diamond Tiara and Princess Sibylla in the Cameo Tiara.)
In November 1964, Juliana wore the earrings, the pendant necklace, the anniversary brooch, and the bracelet for a concert in The Hague.
And here’s a fairly rare color picture of Juliana wearing the aquamarines. For Prinsjesdag in September 1977, she wore the earrings and the pendant necklace, plus the rectangular brooch on her order sash.
Juliana also shared the aquamarines with her daughters during her reign. Here, Princess Beatrix wears the tiara, a shorter version of the sautoir necklace, and the earrings for a theater performance at the Stadsschouwburg of Amsterdam during a state visit from King Baudouin of Belgium in July 1959. (Beside her, Princess Irene wears rubies and diamonds.)
Beatrix has continued to wear the aquamarines, including appearances during her own reign. Here, during her tenure as Queen of the Netherlands, she wears the tiara, the pendant necklace, and the aquamarine and diamond brooch for a gala event in Brunei. She’s also wearing a pair of aquamarine earrings that she added to the collection.
Princess Beatrix has also worn the aquamarines in the years following her abdication. In November 2022, she wore the tiara with her own aquamarine earrings and an aquamarine and diamond cluster ring for a state banquet in Amsterdam during the Italian state visit.
Princess Irene has been a fan of the aquamarines throughout her life as well. Here, she wears the tiara with the earrings, the anniversary brooch, and the pendant necklace during the Mexican state visit to the Netherlands in April 1963.
Irene liked to wear the tiara in its bandeau setting, low across her forehead. She wore the tiara in this fashion in May 1961 during the Austrian state visit to the Netherlands. On that occasion, she also added the aquamarine earrings and the long setting of the pendant necklace to her ensemble.
In April 2013, on the day of her sister’s abdication and her nephew’s inauguration, Princess Irene wore her mother’s aquamarine pendant on a diamond rivière necklace for a water pageant in Amsterdam.
Princess Margriet has sometimes worn the aquamarines as well. Here’s an early appearance: Margriet wearing the tiara, the earrings, and the aquamarine and diamond brooch during the Luxembourgish state visit to the Netherlands in September 1967. (Also pictured here are two more tiaras: Princess Christina wearing the Dutch Ears of Wheat Tiara, and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte wearing the Luxembourg Empire Tiara.)
In April 2009, Margriet wore the tiara, the earrings, and the anniversary brooch for a dinner during the Swedish state visit to the Netherlands.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic wearer of the aquamarines in the third generation has been Queen Máxima. She’s worn nearly every piece from the set. Here, she wears the tiara with the earrings and the shortened sautoir necklace for the Luxembourgish state visit to the Netherlands in April 2006.
Máxima wore all of Queen Juliana’s original pieces—the tiara, the earrings, the rectangular brooch, the shortened sautoir necklace, and the bracelet made by shortening the necklace—for the princely wedding reception in Monaco in July 2011.
In April 2018, she paired the aquamarine tiara and earrings with the aquamarine pendant, worn on a diamond rivière necklace, for a gala dinner for the diplomatic corps in Amsterdam.
And in April 2022, Máxima wore the tiara and earrings with both aquamarine brooches for the state banquet held during a visit from the President of India.
Máxima has also mixed some of Juliana’s original aquamarines with some of the pieces added later to the set by Princess Beatrix. Here, she wears Beatrix’s aquamarine earrings and her aquamarine bracelet with Juliana’s aquamarine pendant, worn suspended from a diamond ribbon brooch, in Madrid in September 2013.
But I think the most successful wearer of the aquamarines in recent years is another of Princess Beatrix’s daughters-in-law, Princess Laurentien. She wore the tiara and the aquamarine pendant (worn suspended from part of the brooch from the Stuart Parure) with the drops from Beatrix’s earrings, plus another aquamarine ring and bracelet, in April 2013, for the dinner held the night before Queen Beatrix’s abdication and King Willem-Alexander’s inauguration.
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