Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Amethysts for February


Let's end the month with a bit of sparkle. Today, we're talking amethysts. It's the birthstone for February and it's also usually purple which is as about as regal as it gets. Despite that, however, it's never been a truly popular gem in royal collections especially when it comes to tiaras. But then, purple is a mourning colour and past royals tended to keep amethysts for periods of grieving. That's not to say there's no purple to be seen anywhere in modern royal jewel collections. Let's just call it quality over quantity as we enjoy the purple of the modern reigns....


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We'll start in Sweden with a tiara that began life as a necklace. The gems in this beauty are so big you might just be able to see them from space but for years they were missing in action until Queen Silvia found them while rummaging round the Royal Palace soon after her marriage in 1976. The necklace came to Sweden with Josephine of Leuchtenberg who married the future King Oscar I in 1823. She is reported to have inherited them from the granny after who she was named - that impossibly romantic empress whose love story with Napoleon continues to fascinate. Since Silvia's makeover efforts, the tiara has become a popular pick with Sweden's royal ladies and it was last seen on Princess Madeleine during last year's Nobel ceremonies.




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Norway now and the necklace theme continues. The rather pretty tiara that the current royal women of Oslo enjoy wearing converts into a necklace (it's actually rather easy to see how that might happen with just one look) and while it's been a bit of a go to piece for Crown Princess Mette-Marit in recent years, it was first seen on Queen Sonja. It was apparently a present from her husband, King Harald, but she's never shied away from sharing this one around.




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Hang tight, we're heading to Luxembourg where the royal jewel collection has not one, but two amethyst tiaras. First up is one made in a tradition that only Luxembourg's royals like to keep up, bandeau tiaras mixing pearls with bright stones. The amethyst version isn't seen that often but here's Marie-Astrid in it in the 70s. Because you would never have guessed from the dress that it's the 70s.



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The other amethyst tiara in the collection is seen about as often but it has no pearly friends to bring along with it. It's another bandeau tiara made up of huge amethysts and when the gemstone stars are so big, who needs anything else?



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We've got another couple of sets of famous amethysts to get through get, both from the United Kingdom. First a necklace that look like modern statement jewellery but which can trace its history back to the roaring Twenties. The amethyst heart necklace, set on diamonds, loved by the Duchess of Cornwall was originally a wedding present to the Queen Mother when she said 'I do' in 1923. It was given by her new husband's granny, Queen Alexandra, who had been a real style icon in her day so the whole chic vibe probably shouldn't be that much of a surprise.



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Let's end with a set of stones that links two of the most famous queens in history. The Kent Amethysts first belonged to Victoria, Duchess of Kent who left them to her daughter. Who happened to be Queen Victoria. The great monarch added them to the jewels that will always belong to the Crown and so they passed down the ages and have been worn more than once by the present Queen. This set never contained a tiara but there is a rather fabulous necklace and brooches as well as earrings so who's complaining really? The Queen used the full amethyst effect on a State Visit to Portugal (as you can see above) and showed, yet again, that when it comes to sparkle, purple really does reign.

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