08 November 2018

Tiara Thursday: Queen Alexandrine’s Russian Sapphire Tiara

Multiple readers have contacted me about news of this tiara coming up for auction. I hear ya, let's cover it:

Queen Alexandrine's Russian Sapphire Tiara
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers
Queen Alexandrine’s Russian Sapphire Tiara was a gift to Princess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1879-1952) when she married Prince Christian of Denmark in 1898. The couple later became King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine. The tiara was given by Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. Nicholas II, descended from the Danish royal family through his mother, was a cousin of the groom. The bride had Russian family connections as well, firstly through her mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna.

Queen Alexandrine's Russian Sapphire Tiara
This imperial wedding gift diadem is attributed to jewelers C.E. Bolin in St. Petersburg, circa 1897-1898. There are eight oval-cut Ceylon sapphires weighing 33 carats in total, with old mine- and single-cut diamonds weighing 53 carats in total. The piece is mounted in gold and silver and the base is wrapped in velvet ribbon.

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Queen Margrethe wearing a different set of sapphires from Queen Alexandrine
Queen Alexandrine had another magnificent set of sapphires that is currently in the collection of Queen Margrethe and includes earrings, a necklace, and a brooch/pendant. Another sapphire and diamond brooch of Queen Alexandrine’s is now with Princess Marie, who regularly wears it as a pendant or brooch.

Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wears an earlier version of the tiara
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers
The Russian Sapphire Tiara, however, went down another branch of the family. It became a wedding gift once more when King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine presented it to Princess Caroline-Mathilde of Denmark on her marriage to their second son, Prince Knud, in 1933. Prince Knud became the Hereditary Prince of Denmark when his brother, King Frederik IX, ascended the throne in 1947. Because Frederik IX had daughters but no sons, Knud was his heir. Hereditary Prince Knud was moved down in the line of succession in 1953, however, because the Danish Act of Succession was changed to allow women to inherit the throne. Frederik’s eldest daughter, Margrethe – the current Queen of Denmark – then became the next in line.

Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wears pieces of the tiara as a necklace, with Princess Thyra's Sapphire Tiara
The Russian Sapphire Tiara was originally a flexible piece able to be worn in several ways. Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wore it as a smaller tiara and as a necklace before having it set in the larger tiara format it has today. The Hereditary Princess also had another sapphire tiara, Princess Thyra’s Sapphire Tiara, which she is shown wearing above. That tiara later went to Caroline-Mathilde’s daughter, Princess Elisabeth, who passed away in June 2018.

On her death in 1995, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde left the Russian Sapphire Tiara to her youngest child, Count Christian of Rosenborg, and his family. It was worn by Count Christian’s wife, Countess Anne Dorte, to multiple Danish royal events. Count Christian passed away in 2013; Countess Anne Dorte passed away in 2014.

The tiara is held by Martin Hans Borg, Bruun Rasmussen's specialist in art and antiques from Russia
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of Fine Arts
The tiara is now the property of their three daughters, who have chosen to sell it. The tiara will be the highlight of an auction on November 30, 2018 at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen. The auction press release includes a comment from Count Ingolf of Rosenborg, the only living child of Hereditary Prince Knud and Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde:
"As a boy, the jewellery of the ladies wasn’t exactly at the top of my mind. But my mother, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, received the piece of jewellery as a wedding gift from my grandmother and grandfather (her in-laws, King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine), which was originally a gift from my grandmother and grandfather's relatives – Tsar Nikolai II and Tsaritsa Alexandra of Russia. It was a Russian piece of jewellery with sapphires and diamonds, which my mother used both as a necklace and as a bandeau, as can be seen in photographs from back then. At a later date, my mother had the jewellery changed to its present form, and I remember very well her wearing this Russian sapphire tiara."
The auction house has done additional research to document the tiara’s provenance, clarifying that the tiara was a gift from the Tsar and Tsarina in both newspaper reports of the time and by finding a bill that included a similar description. The diadem’s auction estimate is set at DKK 1,500,000-2,000,000 (about $225,000-$300,000).