This week, we’re devoting our Sparkling Spotlight posts to jewels worn by a young Princess Anne, who celebrates her birthday on Sunday. Today, we’re kicking things off with a look back at a royal gala from November 1970.
|Queen Silvia wears the Leuchtenberg sapphires at the Nobels, December 2016 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)|
Our journey through royal sapphire collections is stopping today in Stockholm, where we’ve got an updated, in-depth look at the history of one of the grandest sapphire parures of all: the Leuchtenberg Sapphires.
|Princess Augusta, Duchess of Leuchtenberg, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler, ca. 1825 (Wikimedia Commons)|
The parure’s first owner was Princess Augusta of Bavaria, the wife of Eugène de Beauharnais, the only son of Empress Joséphine of France. (Augusta’s father, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, later bestowed the Leuchtenberg ducal title on his son-in-law, hence the parure’s name.) For years, many speculated that Augusta had received the sapphires as a wedding present in 1806, and many thought that the gifter was Eugène’s adopted father, Napoleon Bonaparte. But the recent documentary on Sweden’s royal jewels featured work by historian Claudia Thomé Witte, who has helped to discover the precise provenance of the sapphires. They were a gift to Princess Augusta not from Napoleon but from Empress Joséphine, her mother-in-law. The sapphires, presented to Augusta between December 1810 and February 1811, were a gift to mark the birth of Augusta’s son, Prince Auguste.
|The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara (SVT)|
The parure includes a number of impressive sapphire and diamond pieces, including the tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings, a brooch, and a set of hair ornaments. The tiara features diamond floral motifs topped by eleven sapphire and diamond clusters. We’ve talked before about the inflexibility of some tiaras, but this one is the polar opposite. The base is so flexible that the tiara lays completely flat when stored, making it both easy to transport and easy to wear.
|The necklace and (new) earrings from the sapphire parure (SVT)|
The set has been altered slightly over the years. Originally, the sapphire and diamond clusters atop the tiara were removable and could be replaced with a set of pearls. Today, the sapphires are fixed permanently on the tiara, and the pearls have been used in other pieces of jewelry. The original earrings from the suite were disposed of by Queen Victoria of Sweden, who never wore earrings. Later, a new pair of earrings was created using two of the set’s hairpins.
|Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway wears the original alternate pearl setting of the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara in a portrait painted by Sofia Adlersparre, ca. 1856 (Wikimedia Commons)|
The Leuchtenbergs had several children, many of whom made successful dynastic marriages. One of their daughters, Amélie, became Empress of Brazil, and inherited her mother’s diamonds and emeralds. The eldest, Joséphine, married the future King Oscar I of Sweden, eventually becoming Queen Josefina of Sweden. She’s the one who inherited her mother’s sapphires, and they’ve resided in the Swedish royal vaults ever since. For several generations, the gems passed through the hands of various Bernadotte family members. Josefina’s son, King Oscar II, inherited them from his mother in 1876. Five years later, Oscar and his wife, Queen Sofia, gave the parure to their new daughter-in-law, Victoria of Baden.
|Queen Victoria of Sweden wears the tiara, necklace, and brooch from the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure during the wedding celebrations for her son, the future King Gustaf VI Adolf, and Princess Margaret of Connaught in Windsor, June 1905 (Wikimedia Commons)|
Victoria wore the set (except for the earrings) regularly as crown princess and as queen, and she was photographed in the tiara and the rest of the parure. But rather than leaving the sapphires to any of her children or their spouses, Queen Victoria decided to preserve the set by bequeathing it to the family’s jewel foundation on her death in 1930. This is good for a couple of reasons — the main one is that the sapphires cannot be sold, but their presence in the foundation means that they are also available for more than one member of the family to wear.
|Queen Louise wears the tiara and earrings from the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure during the Swedish state visit to the Netherlands, April 1955 (Anefo/Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons)|
Even though they are theoretically available to all of the Bernadotte ladies, the sapphires have largely continued to be worn by the highest-ranking lady in the family. Queen Louise, the second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf, made the sapphire tiara one of her signature pieces. After her death in 1965, the country was without a queen consort for more than a decade. During that time, the sapphires were worn by Princess Sibylla, the mother of the current king, who served as first lady for her father-in-law. The set was also worn by Princess Birgitta at the wedding of the present king and queen in 1976.
|Queen Silvia wears the tiara, earrings, necklace, and brooch for the Nobel Prize ceremony, December 2004 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)|
Since 1976, the sapphires have been used exclusively by Queen Silvia. The set is majestic, beautiful, easy to wear, versatile, and historic, so it’s easy to understand why it has become one of her most-used tiaras. It’s also one of the tiaras she wears frequently to the Nobel Prize ceremony and banquet, held annually on December 10 in Stockholm.
|Crown Princess Victoria wears parts of the parure at the Nobel Prize banquet, December 2011 (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)|
Though Silvia has continued to be the sole wearer of the tiara, Crown Princess Victoria has worn parts of the parure. For the Nobels in December 2011, Victoria wore the earrings, brooch, and hairpins from the parure with the Diamond Six-Button Tiara.
|Queen Silvia wears the sapphires for the Nobel Prize banquet, December 2006 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)|
In the recent royal jewelry documentary, Queen Silvia confirms that the sapphires are very easy to wear, especially as her hairdresser, Peter Hägelstam, developed a base for the tiara that allows it to be more comfortably secured to Silvia’s hair with pins. Silvia specifically mentions the sapphires as her personal favorite set of jewels from the Swedish vault.
|Queen Silvia wears the tiara, earrings, and brooch from the sapphire parure at Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia’s wedding, June 2015 (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)|
Queen Silvia wore the tiara, earrings, and brooch from the sapphire parure for one of the most important Swedish royal events of 2015: the wedding of her son, Prince Carl Philip. On that occasion, even amid the grand tiaras worn by other royal ladies, it definitely said, “I’m the queen!”
|JON OLAV NESVOLD/AFP via Getty Images|
After marveling at the sapphire collections of the British and Dutch royals, today we’re dropping by Copenhagen to take a look at the sapphires worn by the Danish royal family — and the reasons why they don’t have more of them!
|Queen Alexandrine (Royal Danish Collection)|
Most of Denmark’s royal sapphires come from a fairly recent source: Queen Alexandrine, the grandmother of Queen Margrethe II. Through her marriage to King Christian X of Denmark, Alexandrine was queen consort from 1912 until her husband’s death in 1947. She was born a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, but she had grander imperial roots: her mother was a Romanov grand duchess. Many of Alexandrine’s jewels, including at least some of her sapphires, had Russian origins. In the portrait above, she wears her diamond fringe tiara with her grand sapphire and diamond corsage ornament.
|Queen Margrethe, 2016 (LISE AASERUD/AFP via Getty Images)|
Queen Alexandrine’s diamond and sapphire stomacher was later broken up to make a demi-parure of sapphire and diamond jewels. The set, which now belongs to Queen Margrethe II, includes a necklace, earrings, and a brooch. Above, she wears the necklace and earrings during King Harald V of Norway’s Silver Jubilee in January 2016. The suite is also versatile and adaptable, and Margrethe often plays around with different configurations, wearing some of the pieces as hair pins and attaching a marquise-shaped pendant to the brooch. She also frequently wears a sapphire ring with the set.
|Queen Margrethe, 2012 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)|
Here’s a look at the necklace with that extra pendant attached. Queen Margrethe wore it this way in May 2012 for a special occasion: a dinner for foreign sovereigns to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom’s Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace.
|Queen Margrethe and Queen Anne-Marie, 2011 (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)|
And here’s one more view of the sapphires with the same daisy dress, worn in Germany in June 2011 for the wedding of her niece, Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.
|Queen Alexandrine’s Sapphire Tiara, 2018 (Bruun Rasmussen)|
Queen Alexandrine also had a striking diamond and sapphire tiara. Made by Bolin in 1898, the jewel was a wedding gift from Alexandrine’s Russian cousins, Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra. Though some of Alexandrine’s sapphires remain with the main line of the Danish royal family today, this tiara took a different path. Queen Alexandrine gave it as a wedding present to her new daughter-in-law, Princess Caroline-Mathilde, in 1933. She was the wife of Hereditary Prince Knud, the younger brother of King Frederik IX. Knud and Caroline-Mathilde’s descendants owned the tiara until 2018, when they sold it at auction. Happily, though, it’s still in Copenhagen, on display at the museum at Amalienborg Palace.
|Princess Marie, April 2010 (Schiller Graphics/Getty Images)|
One more sapphire jewel from Queen Alexandrine’s collection, her diamond and sapphire pendant, remains with the royal family today. The piece is often worn as both a brooch and a pendant by Princess Marie, Queen Margrethe’s daughter-in-law. Above, she wears it suspended from a delicate chain during the celebrations for Queen Margrethe’s 70th birthday in April 2010.
|Princess Marie, 2018 (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)|
Princess Marie also recently added two more sapphire pieces to her personal jewelry collection. She helped design the Nuits Claires Tiara, as well as its coordinating ring, with jewelers from Maison Mauboussin. The set includes sapphires sprinkled throughout, including a large pear-shaped Ceylon sapphire in the center of the tiara. Marie debuted the set, which she has use of through an exclusive long-term loan from the jeweler, during the French state visit to Denmark in August 2018.
|Princess Elisabeth, 2012 (Patrick van Katwijk/DPA Picture Alliance Archive/Alamy)|
There’s one more Danish royal sapphire tiara that (at least until recently) resided with a cadet branch of the family. Princess Thyra’s Sapphire Tiara, originally owned by Queen Alexandrine’s sister-in-law, Princess Thyra, was likely made in the early twentieth century. Princess Thyra left it to Princess Caroline-Mathilde (with of Hereditary Prince Knud, who also received Queen Alexandrine’s Sapphire Tiara). Until a few years ago, the tiara was worn by Caroline-Mathilde’s daughter, Princess Elisabeth of Denmark. (Above, Elisabeth wears the tiara during Queen Margrethe II’s Ruby Jubilee festivities in January 2012.) She passed away in 2018, and we don’t yet know the fate of this family heirloom.
|Princess Benedikte, 2010 (Schiller Graphics/Getty Images)|
Princess Thyra also had a gorgeous oval-shaped diamond and sapphire brooch. She bequeathed the jewel to Queen Ingrid, wife of her nephew, King Frederik IX. Today, the piece is worn by Ingrid’s daughter, Princess Benedikte, who uses it as both a brooch and a pendant. Above, she wears the jewel suspended from a diamond riviere during the celebrations for Queen Margrethe’s 70th birthday in April 2010.
|Queen Margrethe, 2010 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)|
Queen Margrethe’s collection includes some significant sapphire brooches, too. This diamond and sapphire fleur-de-lis brooch was worn by Queen Ingrid and is now used by Queen Margrethe. She usually wears the piece as a brooch, but on the occasion above (the wedding of her nephew, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, in August 2010), she wore it as an enhancer on a pearl necklace.
|Queen Margrethe, 2007 (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)|
Queen Margrethe also often wears a stunning diamond and sapphire anchor brooch. This brooch doesn’t appear to have a documented provenance, though a similar one was owned by Queen Alexandrine (and was inherited by Princess Elisabeth). Above, Margrethe wears the brooch during a visit to South Korea in October 2007.
|Crown Princess Mary, 2011 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)|
One of the most beautiful and sentimental sapphires in the Danish royal collection currently belongs to Crown Princess Mary. The Connaught Sapphire Brooch, made of diamonds, pearls, and a large sapphire, originally belonged to the Duchess of Connaught. It was inherited by her daughter, Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden, and then traveled to Denmark with her daughter, Queen Ingrid.
|Crown Princess Mary and Prince Christian, 2006 (HENNING BAGGER/AFP via Getty Images)|
Queen Margrethe inherited the brooch from her mother. In 2006, she gave it to her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary, as a present to mark the birth of Prince Christian. Mary wore it for the christenings of both Prince Christian in January 2006 and Prince Vincent and Princess Isabella in April 2011. She also wears the jewel for more general occasions, too.