Diamonds for April: Belgium
Let's get sparkly. The birthstone of April is diamonds and let's face it, they're not hard to find in the royal collections of Europe right now. To be honest, you can't really have a tiara without diamonds (there are exceptions but they kind of prove the rule more than anything else) so this is going to be a busy month in the Calendar of Jewels. To keep things under control, there's a rule. The tiaras in this month's selections have got to be pure diamonds. If that heirloom diadem has got a few rubies in it as well, see you in July. What's that you say - just a sprinkling of pearls? Run along to June, we'll talk then. April's birthstone is the boss of the jewellery box and over the coming weeks it's featured sparkling alone. Let's start in Belgium - here's Diamonds for April.
The Belgian royal collection of tiaras might be one of the smallest in Europe right now but it's got some serious wattage on the diamond front. The most famous tiara is probably the one known as the Nine Provinces which ticks two very regal boxes. It's only worn by queens and like many of the diadems in that category, it's basically a great big walking wall of diamonds, Very April. It was made for Astrid of Sweden when she married the then heir to the Belgian throne, the future Leopold III, in 1926. It contains over 100 carats of diamonds and Astrid added more - those arches that are its most distinctive feature now were her idea and were worked on to the tiara after she received it. After her death, it wasn't worn in its full version until her eldest son married - Baudouin's wife, Queen Fabiola, made it her own. Since then it's only been worn by the queen consort of the day. Its most recent outing was in Copenhagen when Mathilde wore it during her State Visit to Denmark. It's a dazzler.
Another of Belgium's most famous diamond diadems began life with another popular queen consort. This diamond bandeau first belonged to Elisabeth of Bavaria who married the future King Albert I of the Belgians in 1900. This diadem is very much of its time, an art deco design of interlocking diamond shapes which forms a neat bandeau with a subtle rise at its centre. It was a favourite of Queen Paola who lent it to her new daughter-in-law, Mathilde, for her wedding in 1999 to Philippe. The couple would go on to name their eldest child Elisabeth in honour of the queen who was consort during World War One when she gained so much popularity. Her namesake will be Belgium's first queen regnant in time, giving a whole new layer of history to this set of diamonds.
Queen consorts have a habit of bringing new tiaras to the Belgian collection (Fabiola had a couple but they include other stones so they'll turn up elsewhere in the Calendar of Jewels). Queen Mathilde is no different - this laurel wreath tiara was given to her for her 1999 marriage and she's made it very much part of the royal collection. It was made at the start of the 20th century and bought as a wedding gift for Mathilde by the Belgian nobility. It's a simple design of laurel wreaths, made entirely of diamonds, and it does suit her down to the ground. OK, we've seen lots of similar sparklers but this one has a special place in royal history as the tiara contribution of one of Belgium's most popular queen consorts.
There's one more tiara to take in before we're done with Belgium. Princess Claire wore a brand new diadem for her wedding in 2003 and it's been a go to for her ever since. The diamond tiara is rather small but very pretty and quite unusual - there's a line of diamond flowers mounted with more round stones in what looks like a sprinkling of gems. It has a floaty, almost ethereal quality and it's kind of the perfect princess tiara - dazzling enough without competing with the really big diadems. And it shows just how versatile Belgium's collection of Diamonds for April really is. Sparkling.