Sunday, 30 July 2017

Rubies for July: Denmark

The fiery red birthstone of July has been a favourite for royals over centuries and this month's look at their modern use ends with one of the best known ruby tiaras around right now. The Danish Ruby Tiara, part of a stunning parure, is now used by Crown Princess Mary and it's such a favourite we get to see it at least once a year. But it has a long and romantic history so to end our look at this month's birthstone, here are rubies for July from Denmark.

Given that these rubies sit merrily alongside a whole load of diamonds it seems as if they were made for Danish royals with their clever echoing of the country's flag colours. In fact, these sparklers started their royal path with a French woman who became Queen of Sweden. The rubies in this parure first belonged to Desiree Clary.

Desiree's rubies were bought for the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor of France on December 2nd 1804. By then she was married to Jean Bernadotte, Marshal of France and he, like other important members of Napoleon's circle, received cash from the boss to buy his wife enough jewellery to make the whole event sparkle like none before. Desiree may have had another reason for wanting the best gems she could find - she had been engaged to Napoleon herself but he had left her for Josephine, the woman about to be crowned Empress.

Desiree, Queen of Sweden, was the first owner of Denmark's famous rubies

Desiree got a crown of her own in the end. Her husband was elected as heir to the throne of Sweden in 1810 and succeeded in 1818. His wife was something of a reluctant queen but she returned to the Swedish court and even changed her name to Desideria. Her rubies and diamonds came with her and that's where they stayed for decades.

But they weren't destined to stay in Sweden. They ended up in Denmark when Desiree's great granddaughter, Louisa, married that country's Crown Prince, Frederik, in 1869.  They were handed over to her as she left for Copenhagen as they matched the colours of her new country's flag. And Denmark is where they have stayed ever since.

Another Swedish princess turned Queen of Denmark loved them so much they became a signature piece. Ingrid, mother of Queen Margrethe, wore the rubies constantly and had a big hand in giving the set its modern appearance. The jewels are very pretty and very unusual with the small rubies set among diamond leaves to form floral settings. Ingrid really changed the shape of the tiara, adding more gems to it, to create the diadem we know today. She loved these rubies and diamonds and gave them a big royal profile. When she died she ensured they gained another layer of history.

Queen Ingrid stipulated in her will that the rubies and diamonds of Desiree would pass to her beloved grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, ensuring they gained another hold on the Danish crown. When Ingrid passed away in November 2000 the gems came to Fred who had by then met a certain Mary Donaldson. The new Crown Princess of Denmark made these her go to piece immediately, famously wearing them at her pre wedding gala in May 2004. Mary has loved them as much as Ingrid ever since. The red and white of Denmark's flag continues to sparkle in jewel form in the 21st century. Romantic, dramatic and very regal - a perfect way to end rubies for July.

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