The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara

The Dainsh Ruby and Diamond Tiara

The Dainsh Ruby and Diamond Tiara

Princess Mary of Denmark looked stunning at the annual royal New Year’s Banquet  held at Amalienborg Palace this year. She paired her gold dress with a diamond and ruby tiara and her Knight of the Order of the Elephant collar.

Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark at the annual royal New Year’s Banquet

The tiara began life in the court of Napoleon Bonaparte and looked very different from its current form. In honor of the grand coronation planned for the Emperor, Bonaparte had given money to many of his marshals so that jewels with the appropriate grandeur could be created/bought for their wives. Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was one of those marshals. He purchased the ruby and diamond wreath tiara and accompanying parure for his wife, Désirée Clary. 

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte and his wife Désirée Clary later became King Carl XIV Johan and Queen Desideria of Sweden, and thus the jewels found a new Swedish home. The tiara came to Denmark with Swedish princess Louise who married the future Danish king (Fredrick VIII) in 1869. Louise had received the tiara as a wedding gift from her grandmother, Queen Josephine of Sweden (Désirée's daughter-in-law). Queen Louise later gave the tiara to her son Crown Prince Christian's bride Alexandrine as a wedding gift; Alexandrine would inherit the rest of the parure on Louise's death. 

Princess Mary in the ruby Parure

Princess Mary in the ruby Parure

Alexandrine then gave it to Princess Ingrid of Sweden when she married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935. In the hands of Queen Ingrid the original small wreath was transformed. In 1947, Ingrid added two of the brooches that came with the original parure to the tiara. This gave the tiara a much more substantive look and turned the wreath into a proper tiara. 

When Queen Ingrid died in 2000 she left the parure to her grandson, Crown Prince Frederik who would go on to marry Princess Mary. The ruby tiara is the first tiara Princess Mary ever wore during her pre-wedding events in 2004. Mary also wears it for the annual New Years Court gala (mentioned above).   

The current parure consists of a necklace, hairpins, earrings, a brooch, a bracelet, and a ring (an addition care of Mary). Princess Mary does not have many grand pieces at her disposal, but with Mary's own inventiveness has and all that is available with the ruby parure Mary is able to make the ruby parure "stretch" so to speak. Mary has also followed in Ingrid's footsteps by altering the shape of the tiara to her own taste. It was not as major of a change as Ingrid's, though it is noticeable in a side by side comparison. Mary rearranged the diamond covered leaves creating a more condensed look which sits more upright. The work on the tiara and the rest of the set was done by the Marianne Dulong jewelry firm. They also created a new ring and hairpins from pieces that were left over. The new tiara debuted in 2010.

Princess Mary in the ruby Parure after it's alteration

Princess Mary in the ruby Parure after it's alteration

The Stuart Sapphire

The Stuart Sapphire is a 104-carat blue sapphire that is a part of the British Crown Jewels. It is believed that the stone belonged to Charles II, and that it was most likely among the jewels that his successor, James II took with him when he fled to France in 1688. The stone was then passed to his son, James Stuart (the ‘Old Pretender’) who left it to his son, Henry Benedict, known later as Cardinal York, who wore it in his mitre (hat).
Benedict eventually put the sapphire, and many other Stuart relics, up for sale. It was purchased by George III in 1807 and returned to the United Kingdom from present-day Italy.
On the Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Victoria, the jewel was front and center below the Black Prince’s Ruby. In 1909, during the reign of Edward VII, the stone was moved to the back of the crown to make way for the 317-carat Cullinan II diamond. Today the sapphire still sits at the back of the crown used by Queen Elizabeth II.
The gemstone is oval-shaped, about 3.8 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, and has one or two blemishes. At some point a hole was drilled at one end, probably so the stone could be worn as a pendant. On the back is a miniature plaque engraved with a short history of the crown.

Empress Eugénie’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara

The tiara was made by Gabriel Lemonnier around 1853, and was commissioned by Napoleon III to celebrate his marriage to Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920). It has an astounding 212 pearls and 1998 diamonds. The tiara that was created for Eugénie is part of a parure which included bracelets, a stomacher, and a six strand pearl necklace. 
The pearls and diamonds that were used to create the tiara belonged to the French state treasury in the form of jewelry that had belonged to Empress Marie Louise (1791-1847, second wife of Napoleon I) and the Duchess of Angoulême (1778-1851). Because of this the tiara actually belonged to the state, not Eugenie. The tiara and other state jewels were subsequently returned to the state when she was exiled from France after Napoleon III’s 1870 defeat. 

Empress Eugénie, as painted by Winterhalter, Princess Margarethe of Thurn and Taxis, Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis

Empress Eugénie, as painted by Winterhalter, Princess Margarethe of Thurn and Taxis, Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis

The tiara was part of the crown jewels until the Third Republic decided to sell the entire collection in 1887. The tiara was eventually purchased by Prince Albert I of Thurn and Taxis as a wedding gift to his bride Archduchess Margarethe Klementine of Austria in 1890. The tiara remained a part of the Thurn and Taxis family for the next century. In 1989 the tiara was given to Prince Johannes future wife Gloria who wore the tiara on her wedding day.

Princess Gloria (the “Punk Princess”) was known for her unique fashion combining family jewels with wild outfits and hairstyles. In 1992 her husband, Prince Johannes, died leaving large amounts of debt. As a result Gloria sold a lot of the family’s jewelry collection. Empress Eugénie’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara was sold for 935,000 Deutsche Marks. The tiara did not however end up in another a personal collection. Instead it was bought by the Friends of the Louvre, who gifted it to the museum. It now resides in that Paris museum along with other recovered French jewels. 

The Luxembourg Empire Tiara

Have you ever looked at tiaras and thought “well that’s nice, but it’s just not big enough!” Well then this is the tiara for you!

The Luxembourg Empire Tiara dates from the 1800’s the tiara is covered in diamonds. The tiara is over 4 inches tall and contains numerous motifs, such as: geometric, anthemion, and scroll designs.
The history of the tiara is a bit murky. Previous theories attempted to trace it back to Romanov Russia (with the look of the tiara it isn’t hard to imagine). However, the current thought is that the tiara was possibly acquired as a wedding gift for Pauline of Württemberg, who married Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau, in 1829. The German dukes of Nassau became the rulers of the grand duchy of Luxembourg in 1890, when law prevented Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands from ruling.
We have visual evidence of the tiara’s public debut on the head of reigning Grand Duchess Charlotte when she married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma in 1919. One of Charlotte’s sisters (Hilda), wore it for her wedding too.
On her abdication Charlotte passed the grand tiara to her daughter-in-law Joséphine-Charlotte, the new grand duchess. Joséphine-Charlotte’s husband abdicated in favor of his son Henri in 2001, however her daughter-in-law Maria Teresa did not wear it publicly until after Joséphine-Charlotte’s death. 
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa has worn the tiara on many state occasions and to weddings (notably Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding in 2010).

The Olive Wreath Tiara

The olive wreath tiara was commissioned from Cartier by Princess Marie Bonaparte on the occasion of her marriage to Prince George of Greece and Denmark in 1907. 
Marie was both a princess and an heiress. She was descended from French royalty by way of Lucien Bonapart (a younger brother of Napoleon) as well as being the granddaughter of François Blanc (a real estate developer whose casino projects included the famous Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco). Prince George of Greece and Denmark was one of the sons of King George I of the Hellenes.
The tiara, designed by Cartier, was a nod to Marie’s imperial heritage. Diamond olive leaves with eleven diamond “olives", which could be swapped out for other stones at will. Apparently the original “olives” were emeralds which Marie switched out in favor of rubies occasionally. 
In the center of the already magnificent tiara was a jaw dropping enormous pear-shaped diamond set en tremblant. 
Princess Marie died in 1962. Approximately thirty years later the tiara went up for auction without the central diamond or the emerald and ruby stones. The tiara was purchased in 1999 by the Albion Art Institute and the central diamond was replaced. 
The marriage between Marie and George was…complicated (for lack of a better term). Suffice to say as a result of her marriage she became a devout follower of Sigmund Freud. I won’t go into the sordid details here but, if you’re curious take a minute to google them.


Queen Victoria's Orange Blossoms

The language of flowers is a way of communicating through the use or arrangement of flowers. It has been used for thousands of years by various cultures.

Interest in this way of communicating reached its peak in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Flowers and plants were used to send covert messages.

One of the first gifts Prince Albert sent his fiancée Queen Victoria was a gold and porcelain orange blossom brooch, a flower traditionally associated with chastity and betrothal. At their wedding the Queen wore sprays of real orange blossom in her hair and on her bodice.

Prince Albert continued to give the Queen orange blossom jewelry, another brooch and matching earrings in December 1845 and a headdress in February 1846 (on their anniversary), eventually creating this beautiful set, parts of which she always wore on their wedding anniversary.

The headdress incorporates four small green enamel oranges, intended to represent the four eldest children - Victoria, Albert Edward, Alice and Alfred. The Queen wrote in her journal, ‘it is such a lovely wreath & such a dear kind thought of Albert’s’ (10 February 1846).

The brooches were two of a group of jewels placed in the ‘Albert Room’ at Windsor Castle after the Queen’s death in 1901 (the room where Prince Albert had died in 1861). The Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family.

Iron Clad Patriotism: Berlin Iron


Berlin iron's roots start with the establishment of the Königliche Eisengiesserei bei Berlin or Royal Berlin Foundry in 1804. The Royal Berlin Foundry initially began with the production of iron goods such as vases, knife stands, candelabra, bowls, plaques and medallions, as well as more commercial articles such as fences, bridges and garden furniture. The first jewelry items were produced in 1806 and consisted of mostly long chains with cast links. Later, more elaborate necklaces with medallions joined with links and wire work mesh were manufactured.

Iron jewelry reached its peak in both production and artistic expression between 1813 and 1815 when war fanned  the flames of the iron forges.  To aid in the uprising against Napoleon during the War of Liberation the Prussian royal family urged all citizens to contribute their gold and silver jewelry. In return the people were given iron jewelry often with the inscription Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron), or Für das Wohl des Vaterlands (For the welfare of our country / fatherland) or with a portrait of Frederick William III of Prussia on the back. 

The numbers of pieces produced started declining after 1850, but still continued to be manufactured until the end of the century. Towards it's decline there appears to have also been a shift in design favoring a more Gothic style. 

An attempt to emulate the previous Prussian example was made be the Austro-Hungarian's and German's during the 1900's (First World War). This was done again by exchanging gold jewelry for an iron, much of which was inscribed with some variation of the words: Gold gab ich zur Wehr, Eisen nahm ich zur Ehr (I give gold towards our defence effort and I take iron for honor). This attempt, however, was not as successful.


Engraved iron finger ring given as replacement for gold jewelry offered as gift to the war funds of the Austro-Hungarian empire during the First World War.  inscribed 'Gold gab ich fur Eisen 1914' Coutesy of the Imperial War Museums © Crown Copyright: IWM

Today Berlin Iron Jewelry pieces are considered collector's items. Because iron is a very brittle material and also susceptible to rust, comparatively few examples have survived. The best and most authentic pieces are usually found in museums or private collections. Replicas are widely manufactured today and buyers should be well informed before purchasing.  



Photos courtesy of: The V&A Museum, The Birmingham Museum or Art, The Imperial War Museums

Pearl Poiré Tiara and a Crown of Light


Today is Luciadgen day (St. Lucy's Day). The girl chosen to represent St. Lucy wears a crown of candles so I thought that the Pearl Poiré Tiara from Denmark would be an appropriate piece to feature today.

Pearl Poiré Tiara

Queen Louise (with King Frederik VIII) in the Tiara

Queen Louise (with King Frederik VIII) in the Tiara

The tiara is thought to have been made around 1825 in Berlin at the request of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. The tiara was a wedding gift for his daughter Louise, who was marrying Prince Frederik of the Netherlands. The tiara features 18 drop pearls (poiré pearls) dangling from tall diamond arches. The Prussian king also commissioned a look-alike tiara for his son Prince Albrecht's bride, Princess Marianne of the Netherlands; however, the second tiara's current whereabouts are unknown.
The current version of the (now) Danish tiara wandered through various Scandinavian royal owners before it found its home in Denmark. The original owner, Princess Louise (1808-1870), left the tiara to her oldest daughter, also named Louise, who was Queen of Sweden and Norway. Queen Louise (1828-1871) died shortly after inheriting the tiara and it then passed to her daughter, who was also named Louise (1851-1926). This Louise married the future King Frederik VIII of Denmark in 1869, and the tiara arrived at its final home. That is a lot of Louise's, I know!


Queen Louise of Denmark wore the tiara with a few other pearl and diamond pieces consisting of a demi-parure of a necklace and earrings (a wedding present from the Khedive of Egypt), and a brooch that came from her grandmother. The assembled parure (set) is still worn together today. 
Louise made sure that the parure stayed in Denmark by leaving it to the Danish Royal Property Trust. This means the pieces are not the personal property of any particular royal, so they will pass from monarch to monarch without being sold. And so the parure has been worn by Louise's daughter-in-law Queen Alexandrine (1879-1952); Alexandrine's daughter-in-law Queen Ingrid (1910-2000); and Ingrid's daughter Queen Margrethe, who wears them today.

This tiara is frequently worn at the annual New Year's Court gala by Queen Margrethe. The tiara has also worn it to big events like her jubilee celebrations and Crown Princess Victoria's wedding. It also features prominently in many well-known portraits. The tiara is very rarely loaned as this is one of the pieces that has historically been kept for the queen. The exception was made for on the occasion of two British coronations: Ingrid, while still Crown Princess, at the 1937 coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, and Princess Margarethe at the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II). 



Luciadagen (Saint Lucia Day)

Lucia Procession

Luciadagen, or Saint Lucy's Day,  is also called the Feast of Saint Lucy. It is a Christian feast day celebrated on December 13, in Advent and commemorates the martyr Saint Lucy who (according to legend) brought "food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs" using a candle-lit wreath to light her way while leaving her hands free to carry food. Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light. St. Lucy's Day is also viewed as an event signaling the arrival of Christmastide.

St. Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters. It is also popular in Italy, where it emphasizes a different aspect of the story. 

Sankta Lucia by Carl Larsson

Sankta Lucia by Carl Larsson

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Lucia is venerated on December 13 in a ceremony where a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucy's life when she was sentenced to be burned. The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia; the Italian lyrics describe the view from Santa Lucia in Naples, the various Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. Each Scandinavian country has lyrics in their native tongues. In both Norway and Sweden, girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung. Even boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. After finishing this song, the procession sings Christmas carols or more songs about Lucia. 

In Denmark, the Day of Lucy (Luciadag) was first celebrated on December 13, 1944. The tradition was directly imported from Sweden by initiative of Franz Wend, secretary of Föreningen Norden, as an attempt "to bring light in a time of darkness”.  During the German occupation of Scandinavian countries during the Second World War it was widely regarded as a means of passive protest. Today schools and kindergartens also use the occasion to mark the event as a special day for children on one of the final days before the Christmas holidays. 
There are also a number of additional historical traditions connected with the celebration, which are not widely observed. The night before candles are lit and all electrical lights are turned off, and on the Sunday closest to December 13 participants traditionally attend church.

Adèle Söderberg (1880-1915)

Adèle Söderberg (1880-1915)

Sankta Lucia (Norwegian Lyrics)
Svart senker natten seg i stall og stuer.
Solen har gått sin vei, skyggene truer.
Inn i vårt mørke hus stiger med tente lys,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia!
Natten er mørk og stum. Med ett det suser
i alle tyste rom som vinger bruser.
Se på vår terskel står, hvitkledd med lys i hår,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia!
Saint Lucia (English translation)
Black night is falling in stables and homes.
The Sun has gone away, the shadows are threatening.
Into our dark house enters with lit candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia!
The night is dark and silent; suddenly a rush
in all quiet rooms, like the waving of wings.
See, at our threshold stands, dressed in white with lights in her hair,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia!

References: Wikipedia, The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor  
Kathleen Marino MA, GG, AJP, NAJA

Goodbye September

Dutch Tiara

I think this is a beautiful way to start saying goodbye to September. The Dutch Sapphire Tiara: 655 South African diamonds, now set in platinum accented by 33 luxurious sapphires nestled at the bottom of the diadem. Some of the stones are en tremblant maximizing the sparkle factor. 
The history: The tiara was purchased in 1881 by King Willem III of the Netherlands for his wife, Queen Emma. It was next worn by Emma’s granddaughter Queen Juliana. Today it is worn by Juliana’s daughter, Queen Beatrix. In the course of its history, the tiara has gained some pieces to make up a parure: a necklace, two enormous bracelets, and a brooch. The necklace has been turned into a smaller sapphire tiara which was been spotted on Princesses Margriet and Máxima. 
This tiara was chosen by Queen Máxima to wear to King Willem-Alexander’s inauguration, April 30. 2013. (Seen in the photo)

Antique Tiara Adoration

Photo from  Christies

Photo from Christies

An antique sapphire and diamond tiara/necklace.
This piece is very special.
The tiara as a whole is composed of a central floral and foliate spray, featuring cushion shaped foil backed sapphire and old-cut diamonds, raised stems and scrolling leaves lead to a series of graduated diamond fleur-de-lys panels.
The magic happens when you realize that the central spray detaches to form a brooch and the fleur-de-lys panels form the necklace! It's three stunning pieces in one. Made circa 1890 and was sold by Christie's in 2014.

Bagration Tiara


If you follow along on my Instagram you'll know it's Tiara Tuesday again! The Bagration tiara - diamonds and pink spinels. The tiara dates to about 1810. Attributed to Fossin & Fils, a predecessor of the French jeweler Chaumet. It was purchased by the Russian Princess Katharine Bagration, heiress to Prince Potemkin and listed in the 1836 inventory of her jewels. Bought by the current Duke of Westminster for his bride to wear at their wedding in 1978.