Thursday, 9 February 2017

Amethysts for February: Sweden

Princess Madeleine of Sweden in her family's amethyst tiara
(photo Nobel Prize You Tube still)

February 2017 is all about the Sapphire Queen but you can't have too many gems. So how about a few amethysts? The purple stone - and purple is about as regal as it gets - is the birthstone for February and it's found in some of the most striking and unusual tiaras used by royal houses today. It's also got a touch of spring about it. a burst of colour that is much needed after the long winter. Plus this particular tiara is linked to one of the most romantic royals of them all.  We're off to Sweden to start our journey through Amethysts for February.

This amethyst tiara is a 20th century sparkler created from a romantic royal legend that still fascinates today. Yep, you know what's coming next. The Empress Josephine. Like many a gem in the Swedish box, these amethysts are reported to have belonged to Josephine.

It actually arrived in Sweden, like so many of the eye catching sparklers that we know today, with Josephine's granddaughter who married the future King Oscar in 1823. She was another Josephine who kindly changed her name slightly - to Josefina - and even more kindly, arrived with a gem collection that would turn into a powerhouse of a royal jewellery box.

The amethysts are said to have come from that first Josephine and until the 1970s they were a necklace. Yes, a necklace. Like anyone is going to miss that sitting round your neck.  Queen Silvia decided that it would be much better as a tiara - these are the decisions a consort must make - and had it transformed after her marriage in 1976. And what a wise choice that was.

In its current form, it's even easier to see the sparkle of the oval amethysts that make up the piece. They are huge, great big, can't miss them and wouldn't want to stones and set to sparkle even more thanks to each of them being surrounded by a ring of smaller diamonds. They are interwoven with pure diamond motifs and set on a simple frame. It also wraps right around the wearer's head allowing the jewels to sparkle from all sides.

Since its transformation to tiara status, this has been a popular choice with the royal ladies of Sweden - of the current main members of the House of Bernadotte, it's only Sofia we've yet to see sparkle in this one.  There is another necklace which matches the gems plus earrings and a bracelet to make a set.

It's one of the most memorable of all the tiaras worn in Europe right now, regal and striking enough to notice without being so huge it looks like it's causing a headache. And despite its 18th century origins, in this setting it looks fresh and modern. It's a bit of a winner all round but it's not the only tiara to show off this stone. Come back throughout the month for more Amethysts for February.

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