13 November 2015

Royal Jewels of the Day: November 13

One of the things that fascinates me most about the Swedish royal jewel collection is that it is not only large, but it contains a large number of pieces with some serious royal history behind them. Even the buttons from the much-maligned Button Tiaras are centuries old, and they're among the most frequently shared tiaras. As we approach the annual outing which (hopefully) will bring many of those illustrious jewels out to play - the Nobel Prize festivities in December - here's another long-standing member of the collection:

The family's best set of emeralds can trace its roots back to the first Bernadotte king, Carl XIV Johan (1763-1844). It started out, believe it or not, as a belt - a very fancy belt for a very fancy military uniform. The emeralds are mentioned in the first inventory of the Bernadotte Family Foundation completed in 1844. Today, most of the belt is used as a necklace made of plaques of different shaped emeralds surrounded by delicate diamond designs. To go with the necklace, the set includes two brooches, one large (the former belt buckle) and one small.

With just the necklace and brooches in the set, the emeralds are usually paired with diamond earrings and a diamond tiara (Princess Sofia's Emerald and Diamond Tiara is the only emerald tiara in the family at this time). Carl Gustaf's mother, Princess Sibylla, was fond of wearing them with the Connaught Tiara; pictured above, Princess Lilian (far right) paired them with the Baden Fringe Tiara at the Nobel Prize ceremony in 1976.

At Nobel time, Crown Princess Victoria has been slowly debuting new-to-her pieces from the jewels usually reserved for Queen Silvia for the past few years. In 2012, she wore the emeralds for the first time with the Four Button Tiara (and a green sequined Elie Saab gown, for the complete Kermit effect). She also got creative with the large brooch by attaching it to the back of her elaborate updo.

The Bernadotte emeralds are mostly worn by Queen Silvia these days, who has had the necklace shortened. Silvia has a couple smaller modern sets of emerald and diamond jewelry that she uses for most of her emerald needs, so we don't see the grand green stones used too often. But it is a treat whenever we do, because this is one of the most important royal emerald sets out there.

Photos: SVT/Nobel Prize screencaps/Swedish royal house/via Getty Images