Famous Ruby Jewellery, Part 5: Tiaras of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
Just like nobles in other parts of Europe, the rulers of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe made sure to embellish the heads of their queens with rubies. Often accompanied by additional jewellery featuring scarlet corundum, the ruby tiaras of these nations exist due to both the allure of rubies and the skill of the jewellers who crafted them.
One of the great ruby tiaras belonging to Scandinavian royalty is the King Edward VII ruby tiara. The King Edward VII tiara features deep red rubies surrounded with diamond embellishments. It first entered the Royal Family of Sweden in 1905, when it was given as a wedding gift to Princess Margaret of Connaught by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, her aunt and uncle, upon her marriage to Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden. When Margaret passed away in 1920 due to complications from surgery, her jewellery collection was divided among her children. The King Edward VII Tiara fell into the possession of her son Prince Sigvard. Sigvard married Erika Maria Regina Rosalie Patzek in 1934, but lost all of his royal titles as a consequence of marrying someone who was not of royal blood. Despite this, the prince retained possession of the King Edward VII tiara, and two of his future wives were seen wearing it on multiple occasions. Eventually Sigvard chose to sell the tiara to his father, the now King Gustaf VI Adolf. There was some contention regarding the sale, as Sigvard made the claim that the transaction was not a transfer of ownership but rather a temporary loan of the tiara. King Gustaf asserted his ownership of the tiara and left it to Sigvard’s son Michael after his death. Interestingly, Michael chose to sell the tiara back to the new king, Carl XVI Gustaf. Queen Silvia, Carl XVI’s wife, has been the most recent caretaker of the tiara, but she did not begin making public appearances wearing it until after the death of Sigvard in 2002.
The Danish Ruby parure was once a treasure of the Swedish royal family which now resides in Denmark. The parure originally became a Swedish jewel when former Napoleonic marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte took the throne of Sweden to become King Carl XIV John, and had been purchased for his wife Queen Desideria with funds provided by Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte to his marshals in 1804 to celebrate Napoléon’s coronation. When it was first crafted, the parure featured multiple ruby brooches and ornaments, among other jewellery pieces, with the ruby and diamond wreath tiara that the parure is most famous for having been assembled from the parure’s ornaments at a later date. When Princess Louise of Sweden married the future King Frederick III of Denmark, the Danish parure was given to the princess as a wedding gift in 1869 from her grandmother Queen Josephine for the resemblance between the colours of the Danish flag and the colours of the parure’s gemstones. When Louise’s son Prince Christian married, she gave the parure to his wife Alexandrine, the future queen of Denmark. Alexandrine then gave the Danish parure to Princess Ingrid of Sweden when Ingrid married her son Prince Frederik in 1935. Ingrid then had new modifications made to the Danish ruby tiara in 1947, which incorporated the two brooches from the original parure into the tiara’s design. After Ingrid’s death in 2000 the Danish parure was left to her son Frederik who then gave it to his wife Princess Mary. Just like Queen Ingrid before her, Princess Mary wore the Danish Tiara unaltered for many years before having additional leaf elements added to the wreath by Dulong, filling the piece out and giving it more height. In the process of altering the Danish tiara, a few leaves had to be removed, which then became matching hairpins. Mary’s new version of the tiara debuted in 2010, and today the parure includes earrings, a necklace with detachable pendant, a brooch with detachable pendant, a bracelet, and a ring. Princess Mary is seldom seen wearing the entire parure, but to this day continues to lovingly don the Danish ruby tiara.
A ruby tiara with a past almost as colourful as its gems, is the ruby Olive Wreath tiara. First seen on Queen Olga Constantinovna of Russia, the Olive Wreath tiara features a delicate diamond wreath motif accented by large deeply saturated pigeon blood rubies, with the rubies’ original source thought to have been somewhere in Russia. The tiara and its rubies were purchased by the Queen’s husband, King George I of the Hellenes, as a gift for his wife. Olga’s son Prince Nicholas inherited the jewels after his mother’s death in 1926. Nicholas’ wife Elena Vladimirovna was seen wearing the tiara on multiple occasions, and it was even loaned to Princess Marina, their daughter and the Duchess of Kent, for the UK’s State Opening of Parliament ceremony in 1937. Nicholas’ other daughter, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, inherited the Olive Wreath tiara in 1938 and was seen wearing it during the now infamous stately visit to Berlin, Germany in 1939. The Yugoslavian royalty of Russia were exiled sometime later, after which the Olive Wreath tiara was sold to Queen Olga Constantinovna’s cousin King Paul of Greece. His wife, Queen Friederike, wore the tiara often, and eventually passed it on to Queen Anne-Marie. In 1937, the Greek monarchy was abolished for the second time in the nation’s history, but the Olive Wreath tiara remained in the possession of Anne-Marie, and still belongs to her even today.
Rubies have given these tiaras a glow that is almost unmatched by any other gem, and made them some of the famous ruby jewellery pieces in the world. Ruby jewellery will always be distinguished from other treasures by the burning beauty and searing sweetness that is only possessed by the glowing red stone.