31 March 2017

Royal State Visits of the Day: March 31

What a delightful state visit-y week it's been. Let's keep it going one more day and catch up with the Day 2 outfits from this week's visits. Spoiler alert, at least two of these ladies saved their category bests for last.

Netherlands/Argentina up first! A day of engagements followed by a ballet hosted by the President and First Lady of Argentina.
See this? By far the better of the day outfits Queen Máxima wore for the state visit. It's a Claes Iversen magenta coat with bedazzled starbursts, which is basically as Máx-tastic as a coat can get. (Banner week for this designer: Crown Princess Mary also wore his designs on this same day.)

Pardon me while I cut straight to the jewels in the evening. The Dutch collection is lucky enough to include more than one huge sapphire bow brooch; this version, which dates back to Queen Emma, has recently been used with an alternate citrine brooch in the center. The earrings are equally luscious and equally flexible, able to be worn in different settings. They were created using stones from Queen Wilhelmina's broken up Wedding Gift Parure.

Now over to you, Belgium/Denmark. A day of engagements - and a quick jog - followed by a concert hosted by the Belgian couple at the Black Diamond library in Copenhagen. (Sidebar: Black Diamond! All libraries should be named like James Bond movies.)
Belgian Monarchy
Hmm. As much as I love a cape sleeve and a little mixing and matching, Queen Mathilde's Esmeralda Ammoun jacket has me thinking some things are best left to Empress Michiko, and Crown Princess Mary's burgundy skirt leaves me craving the original pencil skirt that went with this top.

On the other hand, I have no hmms to share about this. LOVE IT ALL. Just as she did in the Netherlands last year, Mathilde waited to bring her best evening gown game until night 2 with this sparkly red Natan number. I'm feeling Mary's Jesper Høvring gown too. That color! Give me more, please.
Belgian Monarchy
Others were there too! It's the last day of state visit week, I cut to my faves. {shrug}

30 March 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Dutch Diamond Bandeau, Revisited

Máxima wears the Dutch Diamond Bandeau, 2017
Queen Máxima delivered a fabulous surprise earlier this week with her debut of the Historical Stuart/House Diamond Necklace. While drooling over the astounding level of diamond carat wattage in that necklace, you also can’t sleep on the diamond power on display in her tiara. This piece has the distinction of being the first Dutch tiara to ever appear on Tiara Thursdays, and it is high time we revisited it.

The Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara
Thai Monarchy
The Dutch Diamond Bandeau is really the simplest of pieces, nothing but giant diamonds in a row on a thin platinum frame. It looks like a necklace worn in the hair, and that’s essentially what it is. The tiara originates with a diamond collet necklace which was a wedding gift to Queen Emma, née Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, who married King Willem III in 1879; the diamonds themselves date back even further. The strand of diamonds was used as both a necklace and a dress ornament before it was converted into a tiara.

Queen Wilhelmina, 1948
ANP Archief
The tiara was seen as early as 1937 on the future Queen Juliana, who was Queen Emma’s granddaughter. Juliana’s mother, Queen Wilhelmina, also wore it. The tiara has since made the rounds of the Dutch royal family thoroughly. Princess (formerly Queen) Beatrix has worn it on several occasions; her sisters, Princesses Margriet and Christina, have also used the tiara.

Queen Juliana, 1974, also wearing the necklace later used as the Sapphire Necklace Tiara
ANP Archief
Judging from how often she’s worn the Dutch Diamond Bandeau, Queen Máxima considers it a favorite. This is fortunate, because she is also the one that wears it best. Whereas on Princess Beatrix many of the diamonds disappear behind a curtain of hair, Queen Máxima usually displays the swooping sides of the tiara, allowing one to fully appreciate the extent of the diamonds on hand.

Queen Beatrix, 2003
And appreciating the extent of the diamonds at hand is really part of the magic of this diadem. It’s not the shape of the tiara that makes it notable, it’s the size and history of the stones. Several of you laughed when I referred to this as a low-key tiara choice at the Argentinian state banquet, because the carats on hand could blow many other tiaras out of the water. It doesn't make the same loud statement as some of the taller tiaras around, but it makes a statement nevertheless.

Princess Máxima, 2006
Thai Monarchy
The fact that this tiara allows so many carats and so much history to be worn with such casual elegance, and not in a way that overpowers a whole look, makes it one of the most royal diadems around, in my mind. It also makes it one of my favorites, a true must on any desert island list.

Does this one make your desert island tiara list?

29 March 2017

Royal State Visit of the Day: March 29

The Belgians went a-state visitin' to Denmark, offering us a speedy primer in Royal Dressing 101 and 102.

The Danish royal family welcomed the King and Queen of the Belgians for a state visit yesterday.
This is straight from the textbook for Royal Dressing 101: The Basic Coat + Hat Combo. (Also from the textbook for Royal Dressing 000: The Men Wore Suits.) Sometimes there really is nothing better than a simple coat or suit with strong lines, paired with an out-of-the-way hat. Princess Marie's repeated ensemble looks downright fussy next to the sleek run of mint-turquoise-aqua-blue-whateva on the other three ladies. Queen Mathilde's Natan outfit feels like 100 others she has in her closet, but when it works so well for her, can I argue? Nah.

Belgian Monarchy
Here's a shocker: my top marks for the day's class go to Crown Princess Mary. (Try and contain your surprise.) First, she used a new-to-her designer, the Dutch Danish designer Claes Iversen who we know mostly around here for his work for Queen Máxima; second, this is just a great coat. Throwing off the curve for everyone else as usual.

The evening's state banquet provided a glimpse into the textbook for Royal Dressing 102: Sash Coordination Strategies.
Obviously we need another Sash Check first: Philippe and Mathilde wore Denmark's highest order, the Order of the Elephant. Belgium's highest, the Order of Leopold, was worn in turn by Margrethe and Frederik. A lower Belgian order went to Mary and Joachim, the Order of the Crown, and another notch down went to Marie, the Order of Leopold II. (Now's a good time to drop a couple links to posts I wrote ages ago on the "rules" of wearing orders, useful for those with questions: the basics on the whats and whys, and what happens when countries get together.)

DR1 screencap
Queen Margrethe set off her purple sash by keeping the day's aqua theme going, and accented things with her Pearl Poire Tiara and the assembled parure that goes with it. I thought she looked spectacular - one of her best evening dresses of late.

Queen Mathilde took advantage of the fact that Denmark's Order of the Elephant blue sash goes with just about anything and sported a light orange Armani Privé gown. A complementary color strategy in the school of sash coordination is an advanced tactic. It's also, in this case, a real hard sell.

TV2 screencaps
She's almost got me sold on the full version of the diamond Nine Provinces Tiara, which I never would have believed possible in the days before she became queen consort, so the impossible is clearly within her reach.

Golden gowns will go with about anything too, a strategy taken by Mary and Marie (who wore her Diamond Floral Tiara). Crown Princess Mary took it a step further by opting to get a little sash coordination in there by matching her jewels to her burgundy sash - and it was the best surprise of the night.

This is the first time Mary has used the Danish Ruby Parure for a state visit, so she really made it count. Wearing the Ruby Parure Tiara, the studs from the Ruby Parure Earrings, and the full Ruby Parure Necklace added a necessary bit of color to her golden Jesper Høvring gown (which we just saw at this year's New Year Court). March 28th being Queen Ingrid's birthday was an added bonus. Valedictorian of the class, this one.

One more tiara for the road! Princess Elisabeth of Denmark was a lovely surprise to see at the state banquet, wearing her usual pick, Princess Thyra's Sapphire Tiara.

And finally, do yourself a favor and enjoy just a bit of the sparkle in action.

27 March 2017

Breaking Jewel News of the Day: Queen Máxima Wears the Stuart Diamond Necklace

We're back with another special post, because: WOW, some MAJOR gown and jewel happenings went down in the Netherlands tonight. Those who follow Dutch royal jewels have been waiting to see if Queen Máxima would break out the Stuart Tiara, that enormous diamond tiara not seen since the days of Queen Juliana. Would she do it for the state visit from Argentina, her home country? Well, no - but she did inch one step closer to the big reveal. Honestly, she's just teasing us now.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima hosted a state banquet on day one of the state banquet from the President and First Lady of Argentina.
Okay, firstly, yes, THIS DRESS. She brought back the stunning Jan Taminiau dress she wore to her brother's wedding in 2014 with a little alteration at the top of the bodice. I knew it was destined for gala greatness, and here it is. (Quick order check: the Dutch Order of the Crown for the First Lady, the Order of the Netherlands Lion for the President, the grand collar of Argentina's Order of the Liberator General San Martin for the King worn with the sash of the Dutch Military William Order, and her usual Order of the Netherlands Lion for the Queen.)

But really: THIS NECKLACE. It's the massive Stuart Diamond Necklace (or House Diamond Necklace, if you like), and man oh man is it stunning. This necklace uses old diamonds from the house collection and is most associated with Queen Juliana, who wore it as part of a parure with the Stuart Tiara. Princess Beatrix was never big on elaborate necklaces, so this one also hasn't been seen since the 1970s.

Queen Juliana and the necklace
After more than forty years in the vault, Queen Máxima brought it back to life with the Dutch Diamond Bandeau on top, also including a piece of the large diamond bow brooch that also goes with this set at her waist. She managed to find the jewel combination that was both extra special (for a country close to her heart) and not too extra on the tiara front, given her guest would not be wearing one. That's some A+ jewel work. This doesn't just leap to the top of her Best of 2017 list...I think it easily leaps into the Top 10 Máxima Looks of All Time. Wow. (Now, quit teasing, Máx. We're ready for the Stuart.)

Bonus sparkle: Princess Beatrix can be glimpsed in the video below wearing the Antique Pearl Tiara.

A post shared by Blauw Bloed (@blauwbloedtv) on

Monday Tidbits for March 27: Exhibitions Galore

It's going to be a sparkly week. But first:

--Princess Beatrix opened "Chapeaux!", an exhibition of over 100 of her hats at Het Loo Palace this week. [AD]

--Also relevant to our interests: "House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth" has opened at Chatsworth House, home of the Dukes of Devonshire. Included are robes worn by past duchesses to coronations. [New York Times]

--I do my best to bring you sightings of the Princess Royal in uniform, here opening the Princess Royal Jetty last week. [ITV]
LPhot Paul Hall/Royal Navy/MOD Crown Copyright

--Over at the Jewel Vault, Camilla gives this Queen Mother brooch new life.

--And finally, there's a lot to digest in this Queen Rania outfit. Just a lot to digest.

Coming up this week: You know we'll be all over the Argentina/Netherlands state visit and the Belgium/Denmark state visit.

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

24 March 2017

Tiara Watch (and Baby Announcement!) of the Day: March 24

In 2015, Crown Princess Victoria announced her second pregnancy the day of an official dinner at the palace. When she showed up for the dinner, there seemed to be a reason for the timing of the announcement: she simply couldn't hide it any longer.

So yesterday was a bit of repeat show.
The royal court had some happy news to share on Thursday: Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are expecting their second child in September, a baby brother or sister for Prince Alexander. (Yay!) Then yesterday evening, the court held one of their regular white tie official dinners at the palace, and...

...yup, that announcement came just in time. This is one of Sofia's best gala gowns so far, which is why I am so glad she saved everyone from the speculation. She also made her second appearance in the Cut Steel Bandeau. I'm gonna say diamonds would have been better and rubies would have been better yet. The dress is screaming for the Edward VII Ruby Tiara, at least as a necklace.

Two airy tiaras with nature motifs rounded out the group: Crown Princess Victoria in Princess Lilian's Laurel Wreath Tiara, which she inherited from Lilian in 2013, and Queen Silvia in the looped forget-me-not garland of the Connaught Tiara.

Victoria gave her Nobel 2012 appearance a do-over, once again sporting that Elie Saab number which has been so lovingly dubbed the Kermit Dress by many of you (we're going with "lovingly"), and the Bernadotte Emerald Necklace.
At the Nobel Prize Ceremony in 2012
She's swapped the Four Button Tiara for Lilian's Laurel Wreath Tiara this time, and WOW does that make me love this look so much more. My fondness for her using the Bernadotte emeralds again and my affection for her making Lilian's Laurel Wreath a regular part of her tiara rotation are strong, but boy, my aversion to the Four Button is eternal.

23 March 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Westminster Halo Tiara

The Westminster Halo Tiara, in its original format
The Westminster Halo Tiara, once part of the impressive Westminster tiara collection, is an instantly memorable tiara created to showcase three memorable diamonds. Resting in the center of the original tiara was a large round brilliant thought to be the Hastings Diamond, a gift given from Nizam Ali Kahn to King George III in 1785. The stone bears the name of Warren Hastings, the intermediary asked by the Nizam to convey the gift to the King; he was under trial for corruption at the time, and he managed to get the gem wrapped up in political scandal. The sides of the original tiara held the Arcot Diamonds, two large pear-shaped stones given to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot.

The Arcot Diamonds as pendants on a brooch
These famous diamonds were sold to the crown jeweler (Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell) after the deaths of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Rundell loaned the Hastings Diamond back to George IV for use in his coronation crown. All three stones were later acquired by the Marquess of Westminster, and they were used in different settings by the Westminster family for several decades.

Loelia, Duchess of Westminster
In 1930, the 2nd Duke of Westminster asked the Lacloche jewelry firm to mount the three diamonds in a new tiara. The resulting design used around 1,400 smaller diamonds to create a halo-style diadem that extends out from the sides of the head in a style reminiscent of a Chinese headdress.

Anne (known as Nancy), Duchess of Westminster
The tiara was worn by Loelia, the Duke's third wife, for portraits shortly after it was made; it was also worn by Anne, his fourth wife, to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The 2nd Duke died a month after the coronation and his estate drew then-record death duties. In 1959, while still dealing with the inheritance tax, the family sold the grand tiara at Sotheby's.

Shots of the tiara in motion at the 1953 coronation show how flat it is from the side. See if you can spot the Duchess of Westminster at the front of a sea of sparkly peeresses in these videos: here at 3:17, and here at 8:42 and 9:44.
British Pathe screencaps
Jeweler Harry Winston was the next to own the Westminster Halo Tiara. Under Winston's ownership, the three large diamonds were removed, recut, and resold as individual solitaire rings. After the recut, the alleged Hastings Diamond was 26.77 carats, and the two Arcots were 30.99 and 18.85 carats. The larger Arcot stone was last seen as the pendant on a necklace created by Van Cleef & Arpels.

The gaps created in the tiara by the removal of the largest stones were filled by a redesign of the top section and with more small diamonds, echoing the rest of the tiara's design. They were also memorably replaced at one point in time with three turquoise stones, like robin’s eggs in a diamond nest. While with Harry Winston, the tiara was loaned for wear by several people (see the links for photos): socialite Rose Movius Palmer wore it in the turquoise version, entertainer Carol Channing used it for an event, and rocker Alice Cooper wore it as a necklace for a portrait. The tiara was sold again at Sotheby's in 1988. It was last associated with Isi Fischzang jewelers.

The Westminster Halo Tiara, in its last format
Incorporating large stones into tiaras can pose quite the design challenge for a jeweler. I'd call the Westminster Halo Tiara a success on that front; the design impressively holds up with or without the centerpiece diamonds, though I do prefer the centerpiece of the original design. I think it's a gorgeous and unforgettable piece, but it's also not the kind of piece you can picture being worn today to a state banquet or other tiara event. (In fact, the only regular tiara-wearer I can picture wearing this with aplomb today would be the supremely theatrical Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.) Really, it's unsurprising that it's spent most of its years in the hands of jewelers.

Does any version of this tiara strike your fancy?

22 March 2017

Royal State Visit of the Day: March 22

The Norwegian royal family welcomed the President and First Lady of Iceland for a state visit yesterday. Crown Princess Mette-Marit made some interesting sartorial departures, I guess you could say.

Firstly, she tossed her favored navy/black/white scheme to the wind in favor of a spring-friendly palette. She's got a whole muted Easter egg thing going on. And I'd talk more about that, but I'm too busy trying to figure out if Princess Astrid has a palm tree print on, or what. (Doesn't matter. I have decided that it is the suit version of a Hawaiian shirt. I will not accept any other explanation. This is the best thing happening in this post, and this post includes tiaras.)

Click here for videos from the dinner.
NRK screencaps
The tiaras on parade at the evening's state banquet were Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara (Queen Sonja), the Diamond Daisy Tiara (Crown Princess Mette-Marit), and an aigrette (Princess Astrid). I really didn't need to tell you which one goes with which lady, did I? Nope. Standard picks all around.

For her next sartorial departure of the day, M-M's beloved ruffly prairie dresses gave way to...
...THIS. This is a most perplexing frock. I actually love the shape for her. There's a little train on the skirt to take it into definite gala gown territory, perfect for tiaras and orders. So, why select colors that have so much color clashing potential? I mean, they're soft colors, but they don't go with a whole lot. Even the basic dark blue of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon feels jarring. The red of Norway's sash would have been worse. MOST PERPLEXING.

It's almost as though Queen Sonja - who knows a few things about unexpected color combinations, given her love of pairing an emerald tiara with whatever - knew what was up and picked something extra gentle for our eyes. I have also decided that this is the truth. (Other things I really don't need to tell you: Sonja's Erik Mortensen dress is 25 years old, and is itself a veteran of Icelandic state visits.)

21 March 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for March 21: Farewells and Friends

Whilst we were occupied in Paris and Monaco...

--Sadly, Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, husband of Denmark's Princess Benedikte, died on March 13th at the age of 82. His funeral will be held today in Germany. The royal guests in addition to the family will include Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine of Sweden (Benedikte is one of Madeleine's godparents); King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands (Prince Richard was once the subject of speculation as potential marriage material for Beatrix, when what he was actually doing was helping cover her real relationship with Claus); and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway (representing the Norwegian family, who are occupied with a state visit).
Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard, during their engagement
Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau/CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

--"'London Bridge is down': the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death" is a long read about what will happen on that inevitable yet unthinkable day when Queen Elizabeth II dies. If you haven't checked it out yet, do. It's logistically fascinating and very well done. [Guardian]

--Let's lighten things up a bit. Crown princes in action: good friends Haakon and Frederik participated in a cross-country ski marathon (Birkebeinerrennet, 54 kilometers or just over 33.5 miles), for reasons unknown to me (she says as she puts her feet up). [Instagram]

--While we're on the topic of princes, Harry sure can wear a sweater. [Zimbio]

--Princess Sofia would like to renew her membership in the Froofy Sleeve Club. She has submitted her annual dues in the form of photos of her boxing in her St. Patrick's Day green version. Payment accepted. [Svenskdam]

--Over at the Jewel Vault: QEII highlights one Commonwealth-themed cluster of diamonds and performs a disappearing act on another. Also, a feature on those fab diamond earrings the Duchess of Cambridge wears.

--And finally, we ran out of time last week to cover Sheikha Mozah's trip to the Sudan and Tunisia, but it did not disappoint. It included one of the best trouser suits seen on the royal rounds in quite some time, I think. (Armani Privé, natch.) [Instagram]
Moza bint Nasser/Instagram

Coming up this week: Tiaras should be out in Norway and Sweden, so you know you'll be seeing those here.

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

20 March 2017

Royal Dress of the Day: March 20

Hey, listen...
Princess Caroline attended the 2017 Rose Ball 
in Monaco this weekend. 
I did say that the advanced Chanel-ing should be left to the Monacos.

There's actually a lot more to unpack here, once you get past the initial giggle stage. The Rose Ball always has a theme; this year's, overseen again by Karl Lagerfeld, was a tribute to the Vienna Secession art movement. In keeping with that theme, Caroline's dress is part inspiration and part copy of the style of dress worn by Emilie Flöge.
Emilie Flöge
Flöge was an Austrian fashion designer and the life companion of artist Gustav Klimt, one of the founders of the movement. This was an avant garde style of dress at the time (and it sort of still is, I guess, over a century later). It was also a feminist style of dress, eschewing the use of a corset.
Now, this 2017 version, on its own? That'll be a big no thank you. But I do think it's pretty cute how pleased Princess Caroline seems to be with her tribute dress. She looks like she had fun with it, and really, what's the point of having a theme if you're not going to get into it? (Those enormous diamond floral earrings, which have been worn by Caroline multiple times over the years, can come home with me any time, by the way.)

Pierre Casiraghi and Beatrice Borromeo, who welcomed son Stefano on February 28th, were in attendance, as was Charlotte Casiraghi. Beatrice looked gorgeously old Hollywood with another pair of divine earrings. Charlotte's dress seemed a departure from her style to me, and then I realized that it actually isn't her style, strictly speaking: it's an old dress of her mother's. I love that. I can only imagine what "vintage" treasures lie in some of these royal wardrobes.

17 March 2017

Royal Outfits of the Weekend: Cambridges in Paris (Updated)

Yes, that's right, this is a weekend post; you have not fallen through a time warp, or severely messed up your Daylight Saving Time adjustments. The Cambridges kicked off their official visit to Paris on Friday, so some coverage is in order.

First things first, though, they celebrated St. Patrick's Day with the Irish Guards.
Sgt Rupert Frere/MOD Crown Copyright 2017
A new Catherine Walker coat and a repeated Lock & Co. hat, and that's all lovely. If I'm being honest, the variations on a dark green coat worn to this engagement so far are all starting to blend together. I'm left wondering how large a section the Royal Coat Museum will need to be devoted to this color, should the Duchess keep up this engagement for many years to come (if she ends up taking it on like the Queen Mother did, let's say).
Will she go full Kermit on us one of these years? Or will she go for something really ~*crazy*~ someday, like...blue. I am not critiquing her choice of color here, you understand, just contemplating the potential hilarity of a museum wing's worth of coats in similar subdued hues amassed for a single annual engagement. Anyway...

Then they jetted off to Paris to start their official visit with a greeting from President Hollande.
Kensington Palace
'Twas better with the hat, methinks. Catherine Walker was from France, by the way, for those seeking a connection.

A complete outfit change was in order for a reception at the British embassy.
This! Is also! Entirely fine. It gets a nod. I'm not a fan of the jewelry (the earrings, at least, are Balenciaga), but it's a pretty unassailable Alexander McQueen black cocktail dress.

Friday's third and final outfit came for a black tie dinner at the embassy.
Sparkly from head to toe! Très glittery. I was hoping she'd squeeze in some of the Queen's diamonds, and indeed she has: diamond chandelier earrings and Queen Mary's Diamond Bar Choker Bracelet, both on loan and both worn previously by Kate. Excellent.

Update: Day 2

While not every royal chooses to incorporate nods to the country they're visiting in their sartorial lineup, the Duchess of Cambridge is among those that reliably do, and she followed through on that habit by wearing a French coat and French jewelry for the second day of the trip.
Kensington Palace
She selected a Chanel coat dress that offered a slight dip into the recent bell sleeve trend, and paired it with Cartier jewelry. This is definitely from the shallow end of the Karl Lagerfeld pool, if you will, which was a wise decision for her (advanced Chanel-ing is best left to the Monacos), and it's nice to see her use a purse with a handle for a change. This might be my favorite recent addition to the Royal Coat Museum.
Kensington Palace

The couple then suited up for the RBS Six Nations match between France and Wales.
A team color in the form of a Carolina Herrera coat is my kind of sporty dressing.

And one other update for you: over at the Jewel Vault, we have a feature on those diamond chandelier earrings Kate brought along for this trip. Do click over.

Royal Hats of the Day: March 17

I could do with ending all our weeks with some lovely brimmed hats. Let's work on that, royals.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Carl Philip attended a wreath laying ceremony commemorating Swedish volunteers in the Winter War.
It's very simple, this ensemble with the white Ida Sjöstedt coat. When you have a combo as classic as navy and white, you don't really need anything else, do you? Don't ask me, I'm just the girl that bought a navy and white striped scarf she didn't need earlier this week.

The Duchess of Cornwall attended Ladies' Day at the Cheltenham Festival.
How nice of Camilla to include a most appropriate green chapeau for our review this week. The unusual color of this hat is so striking, and the shape makes it one of the best in Camilla's wardrobe. And you just know that somewhere out there, Queen Máxima is sending up the hat signal and ordering one of her own. (Maybe brown accessories for Cams, though? Well, and a different coat, but that's another story.)

Zara and Mike Tindall attended day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival.
I'm game for anything that can be worn at a rakish angle, let it be known. Pretty much game for any kind of fur collar/fur scarf business, too. Double win! Really, Zara's looked great every day at Cheltenham.

Psst: Check back in over the weekend for a new post!


16 March 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Romanov Turquoise and Diamond Kokoshnik

Turquoise might not be as frequently associated with the over-the-top splendor of the Russian imperial jewel collection as other stones are – enormous sparkling diamonds, huge dazzling sapphires, impressive bright emeralds – but the opaque blue stone definitely wasn’t overlooked by the Romanovs. Some of the turquoise jewels in Queen Margrethe’s collection are said to date back to Catherine the Great, for example.

The Romanov Turquoise and Diamond Kokoshnik
The official inventory of jewels seized by the Bolsheviks during and after the 1917 revolution (Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones by A.E. Fersman, 1925) includes another example of Romanov turquoise: this striking set comprised of a diamond and turquoise kokoshnik tiara and a diamond and turquoise brooch.

The matching brooch
The brooch, referred to as a Diamond Brooch with Oriental Turquoise in the catalog, was created by Fabergé around 1895 and includes Brazilian diamonds looped around turquoise stones of varying shapes. Fersman doesn’t think much of the "Diamond Brooch with an Oriental Turquoise," noting in the piece's description that the "large, somewhat heavy stones of the brooch, do not harmonize with the dry, sharp lines of the composition which is rather poorly designed."

The tiara
The tiara ("Diamond Diadem with an Oriental Turquoise") earns a slightly better Fersman review: "Though somewhat heavily designed it still represents an artistic object surpassing by far the brooch described above." It features 54 perfectly matched, high quality pale blue cabochon turquoise stones set in gold. The turquoises rest inside diamond loops on the top of the tiara and in a diamond scrolling design in a gallery below; the diamonds are "good Brazilian stones" and are set in silver with golden details.

The confiscated Russian jewel collection, turquoise tiara and brooch indicated with a red arrow. Click to enlarge.
Both diadem and brooch can be seen in the above 1925 photo of the collection. Most of these jewels were sold, either intact or broken into individual stones, and the original Romanov Turquoise and Diamond Kokoshnik seems to have disappeared. In his book Jewels of the Tsars, Prince Michael of Greece explains that a replica of the tiara was made for Queen Olga of Greece (1851-1926), who was born Olga Constantinovna of Russia. The replica and its matching necklace of turquoise and diamonds were bequeathed to Olga’s son, Prince Christopher. Princess Françoise of Orléans, shown wearing the replica below, was Prince Christopher’s second wife (and the two were Prince Michael’s parents).

Princess Françoise wears the tiara replica
The replica, shown here without the lower gallery portion of the original design, hints at the original's large size. It reminds me strongly of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Turquoise Tiara, which I love, and I suspect that the original – if it were still around – would be a shoo-in for my favorites list. It would be an excellent design to showcase a spectacular collection of any color stone, really.

Would you embrace the turquoise here, or have an imaginary swap for something else?

Bonus fact #1: Yesterday marked 100 years since the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (March 15, 1917).

Bonus fact #2: Queen Olga's descendants can be found all over the current royal scene. The Duke of Edinburgh is her grandson; she's also the great-grandmother of Queen Sofia of Spain and the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra of Kent, and Prince Michael of Kent.