Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Rubies for July: Sweden

Queen Silvia in her ruby tiara 

July has the fiercest and fieriest of birthstones. The fabulous red ruby never fails to impress and it's been a favourite for royal jewellery for centuries. There are some rather spectacular sets of these gems in the royal jewellery boxes of Europe and this month we'll look at quite a few of them in their tiara settings. We'll start with one that began with a right royal romance, took in a family dispute and ended up being a bit of a debut diadem in the 21st century despite being made at the start of the 20th. Welcome to Rubies for July and Sweden.

The tiara in question is a towering powerhouse of gemstones, filled with glittering diamonds and scatted with sparkling rubies. This bit will sound very familiar - it was a royal wedding present. The royal wedding in question was that of Princess Margaret of Connaught, elder daughter of Queen Victoria's third son, Arthur, Duke of Connaught. She became the bride of Gustaf Adolf, Crown Prince of Sweden in 1905 just months after the couple fell in love when Margaret and her sister, Patricia, were taken on a tour of Europe as potential royal brides for kings in waiting. Margaret's uncle, Edward VII, and his wife, Queen Alexandra, gave their niece this tiara as her wedding present.

Fittingly for a right royal romance, it's rather romantic itself. There are swirls of diamonds across the base and these rise into three heart shaped sets of sparklers. In the centre of each of the hearts is a pounding, pulsating, passionate ruby while more red gems glitter along the bottom of the tiara. It's rather Edwardian looking but filled with symbolism.

Margaret's story had a far from happy ending. While expecting her sixth baby, she died of an infection leaving her husband and children heartbroken. Her jewels were shared among her family with her son, Prince Sigvard, inheriting the ruby tiara. He lost his royal title when he married a commoner and would later sell the diadem to his dad before getting into a row when he claimed it was merely a loan and papa, now King of Sweden, disagreed. When that king, Gustaf Adolf, died in 1973 he left the rubies to Sigvard's son, Michael, who ended up selling them back to King Carl XVI Gustaf. Not quite as romantic as their beginnings.

The tiara is rather grand and also quite light looking. The scrolling is quite spaced out leaving big gaps between the gems and for this reason it can look a little bit thin sometimes. But what it misses out on in substance it makes up for in height - this set of rubies reaches for the sky and makes it. Overall. it's very regal.

The rubies in this tiara are quite subtle and don't dominate the diadem. Later in the month we'll meet some pieces where you really will be seeing red. But the Swedish tiara shows that when it comes to power and passion, there's nothing like rubies for July.

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