Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pearls for June: the Netherlands

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in one of the pearl tiaras of her royal house
(photo Erwin Olaf)

As June comes to an end and its creamy birthstone prepares to give way to something altogether more vibrant, we reach the Netherlands and literally a vault full of pearls to enjoy. There are three tiaras featured here, a kind of Goldilocks and the Three Bears version of Pearls for June with a baby diadem, a middle sized one for mums and a daddy of a tiara that is about as royal as you can get. Here are some more Pearls for June, courtesy of the Netherlands.

Let's start with a small but perfectly formed tiara of pretty pearls and sparkling diamonds. This diadem was made at the turn of the 20th century at the request of Queen Wilhelmina who had come to the throne in 1890 as a ten year old and who had been enthroned in 1898. Around the time this tiara was created for her, she married Duke Henry of Mecklenberg-Schwerin but it seems this wasn't a wedding diadem rather an idea Wilhelmina had had to copy a piece that had belonged to her ancestor, Queen Anna, and which had fallen out of the family's hands.

It features a delicate band of diamonds topped with more of those stones in the shapes of fleur de lys which are interspersed with single sparklers. But royal jewellery is known for its ingenuity and those solitary diamonds can become, as they usually do now, the beds for seven huge pearls which sit on top of them and give this tiara a hint of the crown about it.  The pearls are of varying sizes and different origins but they sit perfectly together along the rim of this tiara which has become a regular feature for the Dutch royal ladies. Wilhelmina, Juliana, Beatrix and now Maxima have all worn it regularly - it might not be king size but this is a queen of tiaras for the Royal House of the Netherlands.

In the middle is a tiara that kind of matches in size but packs a bigger punch when it comes to history. This pearl diadem was worn by Beatrix of the Netherlands on the day she became Queen so immediately goes into the top drawer of regal jewels.

It features pearl buttons - large, round gems originally used as brooches. The pearls become the centre of a sort of daisy design with the petals made up of sparkling diamonds. Five buttons are attached to a pretty diamond base which rises to a centre point allowing the pearls to form an arc above its wearer's head.

Its most famous outing is easily the enthronement of Beatrix as Queen of the Netherlands on April 30th 1980. And it went on to take part in another big royal event - the diamond base was used by Maxima for her wedding tiara but she swapped the pearl buttons for sparkling stars made of diamonds. Either way, this is a diadem for the history books.

And then there is a tiara you couldn't miss if you were looking the other way. The Wurttemburg Tiara, just like its button buddy above, was made even more royal in the 20th century when it was used by Beatrix at two other big events in her life. This is the diadem a queen in waiting wore for her marriage and the one chosen by Beatrix for the last gala event before she abdicated in 2013.

In fact, it's a very queenly piece as it has only been used by women who carry that title. It is said to have originated with Sophie of Wurttemberg who became Queen of the Netherlands in 1849 - she is said to have acquired it as a present when she married the man who would become King Wilhelm III ten years earlier. Other tales make it a more modern piece - where modern means the end of the 19th century. Either way, there's not getting past the fact that this tiara was built to tower above others.

The diamond base that showcase the pearls is a work of wonder in itself with the sparklers studded into a scroll design that rises in the middle. It is covered in round pearls but just like its baby cousin above, there is scope to add in more pearls to top the diamond base so that in its full version it reaches for the sky.

It's been seen with and without the pearl toppers although Beatrix added them to the tiara for her wedding day and very regal she looked too. This is a breathtakingly beautiful diadem that never fails to impress.


And that's before we get to that always handy thing, a tiara that can swap stones. The Emerald Tiara featured in May falls in to that category - the sparkling green stones can be swapped for pearls for a softer look - you just have to remember where you've put the gems you're not using while they have a rest or that really is a time to tear the palace apart.  You can read more about that here.

When it comes to pearls, the Dutch Royal Family really does have things sorted with a tiara for every occasion. And with the added history the present royals have given to these historic pieces, these pearls for June have pearls of stories attached to them every way you look.

You can read more about pearls for June here.

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