Monday, 13 March 2017

Aquamarines for March: the UK

The Queen in the aquamarine tiara that she had made
(By Ricardo Stuckert/PR - AgĂȘncia Brasil [1], CC BY 3.0 br, Link)

Aquamarines, the birth stone of March, might not be up there with sapphires and rubies in the call me royal and let me sparkle stakes but they certainly fight above their weight in the modern royal jewelery boxes. The pale blue stone, a form of beryl, is found in many a regal collection around Europe right now and Elizabeth II owns a substantial stash of the stone. It's time to head into the British royal jewel vaults to look for Aquamarines for March.

Star of the aquamarine show in this royal jewel box is the rather huge and unable to miss from several miles away tiara which the Queen has worn since the 1970s. This dare you to blink diadem was commissioned by Elizabeth II and incorporates a large number of large, square cut aquamarines given to her by the people of Brazil throughout her reign. The Queen received a necklace and earrings on her Coronation and a bracelet and brooch a few years later. In 1957, she commissioned Garrards to turn some of the stones into a tiara but this final version wasn't seen until 1971 when the Queen added more aquamarines, given to her by the Governor of Sao Paolo in 1968. 

Perhaps the generosity of Brazil is one reason this tiara is so hard to miss. You want aquamarines then this tiara gives you aquamarines. There's a band of the pretty blue sparklers at the base of the diadem, part of the original design, while the square cut central stone was also part of the early imaginings of this piece. The aquamarine and diamond arches around the side are a later addition and, let's face it, they do look very 70s. But there's something rather lovely about the pale blue of the stones and when worn with all the pieces as a parure, it packs a regal punch and then some.

The exact origins of the stones in another very familiar aqumarine tiara belonging to the House of Windsor aren't known but it's thought that this rather unusual piece is another featuring stones gifted to the Queen from Brazil. In recent times it's been used by the Countess of Wessex who likes to dust it down when on royal wedding duty (she and Edward are our regular regal representatives at the nuptials of princes and princesses across the continent).

It took a sparkling, starring role at the wedding party for Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg and his bride, Stephanie de Lannoy, in October 2012 when Sophie got everyone talking with her tiara choice. This piece, featuring five large, pale aquamarines surrounded by diamonds and mounted on a thin band hadn't been seen in public for over thirty years when the Queen wore it.  We didn't have to wait that long for a rewear - just eight months, in fact, as Sophie took the sparkler to Stockholm for the marriage of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill.

In fact, the Windsor aquamarines are a bit of a wedding staple. Another tiara starring the stone was worn by the Countess of Wessex at the wedding of Madeleine's brother, Prince Carl Philip, to Sofia Hellqvist, in June 2015. It's actually one of those royal must haves, a tiara that doubles as a necklace. It features a rather pretty, scrolling design of diamonds working their way to one, central aquamarine in the centre. Again, these are paler aquamarines, fitting for a wedding where no one wants to be so out there that they distract from the bride. It's quite a low key piece but very pretty.

There's one more aquamarine tiara left in the Windsor collection but finding a good picture of it is hard work. In the image above you can just catch a glimpse of its gleeming blue on the head of Princess Anne. This diadem is made of aquamarines and diamonds with some of the stones shaped into pine cones. Yes, pine cones. It's different, let's leave it there. It was originally owned by the Queen Mother who gave it to Anne around the time of her first marriage in 1973. Anne does wear it occasionally but it's never been a go to. Blame the pine cones. But it's another interesting aquamarine chapter in the jewel story of the House of Windsor which has gathered one of the most impressive collections of the birthstone for March around.

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