01 December 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure, Revisited

The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara
The Nobel Prize Award ceremonies are fast approaching. For the past few years, Queen Silvia has been alternating between wearing the Nine Prong Tiara and the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara for the gala Stockholm event. If she continues this tidy rotation, this year would be a sapphire year. In advance – in hope? – let’s revisit the tale of that blue diadem.

Queen Josephine in the tiara with pearls
Composed of 11 sapphires framed in diamonds on a diamond base of honeysuckle and leaf motifs, the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara was probably made by the Parisian jeweler Marie-Etienne Nitot. Originally, pearls were included as an alternative to the sapphires; the pearls are no longer with the tiara, but supposedly the capability is still there. It’s a flexible tiara made in 11 different sections, allowing the user to adjust the circumference at will. It folds out to store flat in its box, a feature that Queen Silvia has noted makes it very handy to travel with.

Queen Victoria (left), Queen Louise (right)
The sapphires are thought to have been a wedding gift from Napoléon to Princess Augusta of Bavaria, Duchess of Leuchtenberg, when she married Eugène de Beauharnais (Empress Joséphine's son). It makes the journey to Sweden with Augusta's daughter, Josephine, who married Oscar I of Sweden and Norway. The parure is now in the family foundation in Sweden, and has been worn mostly by queens and/or those acting as first ladies of the country.

Queen Silvia
A full parure, or matching set, of jewelry accompanies the tiara. Today, that parure is composed of the tiara, earrings, a necklace, a brooch, and two hairpins. The earrings are relatively new to the set; original earrings are thought to have been altered or given away by Queen Victoria, and a new set was created when Queen Louise (as Crown Princess) converted two of the four original hairpins into a set of earrings.

Crown Princess Victoria in parts of the parure, Queen Silvia and the Leuchtenberg Sapphire necklace and brooch
The parure today is frequently worn by Queen Silvia, and she has explored all sorts of color combinations with the luscious blue sapphires. Princess Birgitta, King Carl Gustaf’s sister, wore it for Carl Gustaf and Silvia's pre-wedding event in 1976; her outing of the sapphires was the last time the tiara was worn by anyone other than Queen Silvia (to date). She did, however, allow Crown Princess Victoria to wear the earrings, brooch, and hairpins for the Nobel Prize ceremony in 2011. 

Is this what you’re hoping to see come December 10th?
(Me: Unless someone wants to wear something we haven't seen in a while...)