10 May 2012

Tiara Thursday: Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara

Are you in the mood for a hefty dose of speculation today? Come along, then...
Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara
Today's Spanish royal tiara collection is, let's say, medium-sized. It would be larger, but Queen Victoria Eugenia sold some stuff while in exile and she distributed what was left among her family, so not everything that survives today is in the hands of King Juan Carlos. Today's tiara currently belongs to another branch of the family.
Queen Victoria Eugenia in the original version of the tiara with pearls
The tiara has gone through quite a transformation over the years. We start with the tiara pictured on Queen Victoria Eugenia above, a diadem from Spanish jewelers Ansorena which was a gift from her husband, King Alfonso XIII. Apparently Ena (that was her nickname) had seen a similar tiara and dropped a few subtle hints, resulting in this particular present. Not only was the original form quite different from what it is today, it was originally set with drop pearls.
Queen Victoria Eugenia with the tiara in its original form, altered to accommodate aquamarines
Eventually, Ena had it reset to accommodate a collection of luscious Brazilian aquamarines. She gave it to her daughter, the Infanta Beatriz, who married Alessandro Torlonia, Prince of Civitella-Cesi, in 1935. In Beatriz's hands the tiara received its most extreme makeover, bringing it to the form we know today. It is strikingly similar to Queen Elizabeth's Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, but with aquamarine pendants rather than pearls or emeralds. Like the Vladimir, it can now also be worn with no pendants at all.
Infanta Beatriz with the new form of the tiara - with (right) and without (left) the aquamarine drops
The tiara and its accompanying parure were left to her descendants and it has been seen on both her daughters, Sandra (who married Count Clemente Lecquio di Assaba) and Olimpia (who married Paul-Annik Weiller and is the mother of Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg). The parure includes a large necklace - often called a sautoir - along with earrings, a bracelet, a brooch, and of course the tiara. Olimpia wore the tiara to the 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, while Sandra turned up a week later in other elements from the parure at the pre-wedding dinner of the Prince of Asturias.
Left to Right: Olimpia with the tiara without the aquamarines on her wedding day, Olimpia with the aquamarines at the 2004 Danish royal wedding, and Sandra with other parts of the parure a week later at the pre-wedding dinner for the Spanish royal wedding
And now we come to the hefty speculation portion of today's topic: a recent article (click here for the article, in Spanish) states that King Juan Carlos has approached the Torlonias about purchasing the aquamarines, possibly as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for Queen Sofia. This is not to be taken as fact, mind you, but it makes for an interesting discussion.
Detail of the center of the tiara
King Juan Carlos' reign has seen other jewels return to the main family line (the Cartier Diamond and Pearl Tiara, for example). But the Torlonias don't seem to have much motivation to sell, so it may be a moot point entirely. We'll have to wait and see if any of this ends up with a whiff of truth to it or not. In the mean time...

What do you think? Like the tiara? Think it should go back to Spain?

UPDATE: As is often the case, the tiara rumor turned out to be false. Princess Sibilla wore this tiara in October of 2012, so we now know that it has not left the Torlonia family.

Photos: Unofficial Royalty/Royal Dish/Getty Images/Coronas Reales