Category Archives: Royalty

Largest Girandoles

Princess Isabella of Parma’s girandole earrings in Meng’s painting below are modest in comparism to these 11 cm. long diamond girandole earrings. They are the largest pair known. The silver earrings are completely set with rose cut diamonds, all perfectly set to the point that they appear to melt into the floral design, Portugal, third quarter of the 18th century.

weight: 65.8 grams
length: 11 cm.

In jewelry, a girandole is a design, mostly earrings, in which three dangling pear-shaped ornaments are suspended from a central motif, often a bow. The girandole was the favourite court jewel in the 17th century and its popularity remained in the 18th century. The original 17th century model comprised one element above a central bows suspending 3 or 5 pear shaped pendants all moving independently creating a dramatic sparkle effect. In the 18th century new versions of the girandole model were created where the central bow experienced several variations. This model, where the central bow was replaced by a bouquet was the favourite in the European courts.


These earrings are from the collection of Américo Barreto, famous Portuguese jewellery collector and dealer in the 20st century. Barreto worked as a consultant of “National Palace of Ajuda” for the crown jewels collection and was widely recognized both nationally and internationally. He had a legendary private collection which was presented at Museum of Ancient Art until his death and that is can be found (partially) on the illustrated book “Five Centuries of Jewelry”.

The earrings were probably sold by Barreto in the 1970s. There is no information regarding the original provenance of these earrings but it is very likely that they have a royal or noble provenance. They are rich and extravagant. Here is another portrait of Queen Maria Luisa of Parma who was also painted by Mengs in 1765.

Queen Maria Luisa of Parma 1765

Queen Maria Luisa of Parma 1765



The Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, revisited

King Edward VII gave up the British Throne and country to marry the twice divorced American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1936, making them the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. After this the Duke lived for The Duchess of Windsor. He adored her and gave her jewels for every occasion in their life together. Most jewels are larger than life, according to Wallis’ friend Lady Mosley.

On 30 November 2010 Sotheby’s London will sell 20 jewels from the Duchess of Windsor’s jewellery collection. 23 years after the much celebrated Sotheby’s Geneva auction of her jewels in 1987.  This auction was a global event in prosperous times and the 214-piece collection fetched a record price of EUR 35 million, seven times the pre-sale estimate. Reflecting the 1987 rage today’s estimates  are also completely over the top but will surely be paid. The total sale is expected to bring in around EUR 3 million.

On sale now are jewels that memorialize the most important moments in Edward and Wallis’ relationship. Wallis was greatly admired for her avant-garde style in fashion and jewellery alike. She combined simplicity with whimsy.

Many of the jewels were made by Cartier, two specifically by Cartier’s jewellery director Jeanne Toussaint,  the Onyx and diamond panther bracelet designed in 1952, is one of the finest examples of the ‘great cats’ jewels of which the Duchess was an avid collector. The bracelet is expected to fetch 1,000,000-1,500,000 pounds . This articulated cat forms a “stalking pose” when closed around the wrist.

Jeanne Toussaint also created this exotic flamingo brooch, decorated with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrines, and diamonds which was bought by the Duchess in 1940. The flamingo brooch was bought for £498,000 in 1987 and is today estimated at £1m-£1.5m.

Another precious jewel is the diamond cross bracelet by Cartier, supporting nine gem-set Latin crosses, each marking significant events during the years 1934-44. The bracelet is expected to raise £350,000-450,000, while it fetched only £200.000 in 1987.

It is a very sweet; every cross has an inscription and a story to it, but not everyone believes Wallis & Edward were the greatest love story of the 20th century. For a different opinion please read here.

Sotheby’s David Bennett and historian Hugo Vickers, however, make a splendid presentation below.


On 19 June 2010 Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has married her former fitness trainer, Daniel Westling. He will be HRH Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland from now on. It was a lovely and extravagant ceremony. What a feast to see this marriage. I had no difficulty choosing between the soccer game and Victoria!

It is the first wedding of a female successor to the throne in the list of Swedish monarchs. The monarchy in Sweden dates back more than 1,000 years. The current Bernadotte family, with King Carl XVI Gustaf as king, originates from 1810 when French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was chosen successor to the Swedish throne by Parliament, but now for the tiara’s……

Cameo tiara

Victoria wore a cream-colored gown with short sleeves and an endless train designed by Pär Engsheden that looked like marzipan. And just like her mother Silvia at her wedding in 1976, she wore the Cameo tiara, made of gold, pearls and 7 large hard stone cameos depicting mythological figures. In the centre there’s the crowning of love (mother and child), flanked by portrait-cameos of a man and a woman aim their sight. On the backside portrait-cameo’s are interchanged with a godess who has a putti on her lap (caretaker) and a man with a staff  (guard).

Cameo tiara history & tradition

Amongst other jewels, this Empire cameo tiara which is part of a parure was brought into the family by Queen Josefine princess of Leuchtenberg when she married Crown Prince Oscar (the future King Oscar I) in 1823. Josefine was the granddaughter of Empress Josephine. The parure was made for Josephine around 1809 by Marie-Etienne Nitot, who was Napoleon’s jeweller and founder of the jewellery house Chaumet. With the next generation of the Bernadottes, the tiara was owned by Queen Josefina’s daughter Princess Eugénie, who in turn left the tiara to her nephew Prince Eugen. The prince gave the tiara to Princess Sibylla on her marriage to Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932. The King was left the tiara by his mother.The King’s sister, Princess Birgitta, started the tradition when she chose Queen Josefina’s cameo tiara as her bridal crown for her wedding with Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern in 1961. Princess Désirée also wore it in 1964 and so did Queen Silvia in 1976. Read more on the King’s sisters jewels at Victoria’s wedding here.

Empress Josephine’s Emerald and diamond tiara

Queen Sonja of Norway wore a coral-colored dress along with the Empress Josephine of France emerald and diamond tiara that also came into the family through Queen Josefine of Sweden.

Braganca tiara

Queen Silvia of Sweden wore a bright pink dress to match the stunning Empire parure of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. All diamonds and Brazilian pink topazes made around 1804. Also she wore the diamond Braganca tiara. This is the biggest tiara of the Swedish royal family which once belonged to Empress Amalie of Brazil the sister of Queen Josefine of Sweden.

Maxima & Beatrix

Our Princess Maxima wore beautiful simple diamond rivière necklace and a diamond bandeau. Possibly the rivière necklace that the Dutch people gave Queen Emma as a wedding present in 1879.

Queen Beatrix wore the Mellerio ruby and diamond tiara which was a gift from King Willem III to his second wife, Queen Emma in 1889. It is part of a parure by Jeweler Mellerio dits Meller from Paris. It is the most complete parure in the Orange-Nassau collection. It consists of 7 jewels. Queen Juliana was very fond of this parure and has worn it often, so does Maxima today.