Did the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton just give the world a tip-off as to the sex of her second child, due later this month? During her final official public appearance before maternity leave, she wore a bright fuchsia coat, sending the rumor mill whirring that a princess is on the way. We sure hope so! After all, royal ladies love sapphires. In fact, sapphires star in several of the most fascinating accessories ever created for the queens and princesses of the world: the tiara. Here’s a list of 10 of our favorites. We’re excited to think the fourth in line to the British throne will wear one of these, or have one created that’s equally as exceptional!
George VI Victorian Suite Tiara
When Queen Elizabeth II was married in 1947, her father, King George VI, gifted her with the George VI Victorian Suite, a jewelry set consisting of a magnificent necklace and earrings composed of blue sapphires surrounded by diamonds. In 1963, the Queen commissioned a tiara and bracelet to match, which equaled in grandeur the decadent design of the set and the quality of the gemstones. The tiara is reportedly made from a necklace that originally belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium. Perhaps Elizabeth will bequeath her beautiful parure to the new princess, since she would be the next potential queen.
The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Tiara
The creation of the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure is attributed to Marie-Étienne Nitot, the official jeweler to Emperor Napoléon I and founder of the House of Chaumet. The blue sapphires used in the set are believed to have been a wedding gift from the Emperor to Princess Augusta of Bavaria, Duchess of Leuchtenberg, when she married in 1806 his stepson, Eugène de Beauharnais, from the first marriage of his wife, Empress Joséphine. In her will, Princess Augusta is said to have left the sapphires to her eldest daughter Joséphine, who married King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway. Today, the parure is Queen Silvia of Sweden’s signature set of jewels.
The parure is considered one of the most beautiful displays ever of jewelry craftsmanship and also one of the most complete, containing a tiara, necklace, earrings, brooch and four hairpins, two of which have been incorporated into earrings since the original earrings were supposedly separated from the set. The tiara itself consists of 11 separate sections, which means it can be worn in virtually any form, from a diadem to a crown, and adjusted to perfectly fit the shape of the wearer’s head. The tiara showcases 11 large, rectangular-shaped deep-blue sapphires set on a base of honeysuckles and leaves crafted from 11 oval-shaped diamonds and hundreds of smaller diamonds. As another testament to its remarkable design, the sapphires can be switched out for other gemstones. We can certainly see the new princess favoring a transformable tiara such as this that can travel the world and be worn to a variety of social events.
The Dutch Sapphire Tiara
Purchased in 1881 by King Willem III of the Netherlands for his wife, Queen Emma, the Dutch Sapphire Tiara is utterly extravagant. Featuring 33 blue sapphires and 655 diamonds, set in platinum, the tiara resembles the Gothic architecture of a great cathedral with sparkling stained glass windows. Several of the stones are also mounted en tremblant, meaning they’re attached to a trembler, or a material that acts like a spring, to create movement when worn and reflect the surrounding light. A necklace, two bracelets and a brooch were later added to create a parure. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands recently streamlined the tiara, redesigning the central diamond element for a more modern look the new princess might wish to emulate as she comes of age.
Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet
Perhaps what makes Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet so special is that Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, with whom she was very much in love, designed it for her. In fact, the petite coronet was reportedly one of the only pieces Queen Victoria decided was appropriate to wear during her widowhood. Most likely commissioned from Joseph Kitching in 1842, the coronet features a flexible Gothic design with both cushion- and kite-shaped blue sapphires set in yellow gold, as well as diamonds set in silver, for a less ostentatious look the new princess might prefer. The coronet passed on to Princess Mary, who was given the coronet, along with a matching parure, as a wedding gift from her father, King George V, Victoria’s grandson. It was reportedly last seen in 2002 at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire And Diamond Parure Tiara
“Perfect” is how the craftsmanship is described for Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire and Diamond Parure. Most likely the original property of Empress Joséphine, wife of Emperor Napoléon I, it entered the collection of Queen Marie-Amélie de Bourbon when Hortense de Beauharnais, Joséphine’s daughter, sold it in 1821 to the Queen’s husband, King Louis-Philippe of France. The parure remained within the royal French family until they sold it to the Louvre in 1985. The parure’s tiara is exquisite, featuring large blue sapphires from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and diamonds set in white gold, with pieces that can be worn independently as brooches. At some point, the tiara was reduced in size, and is displayed in the museum along with the parure’s matching necklace of large oval-shaped blue sapphires encircled with diamonds and separated by articulated diamond “strings,” earrings, one large brooch and a pair of smaller brooches.
Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire, Diamond And Pearl Parure Tiara
Queen Marie-Amélie had a second sapphire parure, which included diamonds as well as pearls. Created for her by French royal jeweler Bapst from existing jewels in her collection, the tiara features seven oval-shaped blue sapphires said to be of Sri Lankan origin with graduated-diamond surrounds atop diamond festoons accented with pearls and blue sapphires. The parure also includes earrings, three brooches (including two epaulette brooches) and a belt buckle or the center plaque of a bracelet. Like the Queen’s sapphire and diamond parure, this one remained within the French royal family until it was sold in the 1990s. The setting of the blue sapphires and diamonds in both of Marie-Amélie’s tiaras closely resemble Kate Middleton’s engagement ring, first given to Princess Diana of Wales, a natural design choice for the new princess to honor both her mother and grandmother.
The Barberini Sapphire Parure Tiara
The Barberini Sapphire Parure, with its free-form floral motif, offers a refreshing design change from the more architectural pieces. Belonging first to the Barberini family of Italian nobility, which rose to prominence in the 17th century, the matching set includes a blue sapphire and diamond tiara, necklace, girandole earrings and brooch. The tiara, which dates from around 1850, resembles a wreath of flowers composed of a rose-cut diamond branch blossoming with old-cut diamond flowers and collet-set blue sapphire centers and buds set in gold and silver. It has a light and airy quality that’s feminine and romantic, just what you would expect the new princess to fancy. The parure was reportedly last sold at auction in four separate pieces for a combined total of $250,000, of which $100,144 was for the tiara alone. The young princess is sure to love the playfulness of this tiara.
The Nassau Tiara
The Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara is said to have been part of the trousseau of Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, the second wife of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, who ruled Luxembourg from 1890–1905. It’s most closely associated with her granddaughter, Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde, who favored the tiara when sitting for photographs or paintings during her reign from 1912–1919. Created between 1865 and 1870, the tiara features a large cushion-shaped blue sapphire at the center, which can be removed and worn separately. Surrounding the sapphire is a leaf-and-berry motif crafted from brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds set in white and yellow gold. Two loops at the base of the tiara can attach an additional element. The tiara passed on to Marie-Adélaïde’s sister and successor, Grand Duchess Charlotte, and has since been seen on Maria Teresa, the current Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, her daughter-in-law, Princess Tessy of Luxembourg and Princess Stephanie. The new princesses might appreciate the timeless design of a tiara such as this, which has been beloved by the Luxembourg royal family for more than a century.
The Océan Tiara
The newest sapphire tiara among our list of favorites is the Océan Tiara, commissioned by Prince Albert II of Monaco as one of several wedding gifts for his new bride, Princess Charlene Wittstock. Created by renowned jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels, the tiara pays homage to Charlene’s South African heritage as well as her status as an Olympic swimmer. Its design features a sea-spume motif fashioned from more than 850 diamonds of the highest quality and 359 sapphires in graduated shades of blue evoking the different seas of the world, from the waters off the coast of Monaco to the ocean around South Africa. To crown the work, 11 pear-shaped diamonds represent water droplets. The largest of these, at more than four carats, is of incomparable beauty, with D color and an internally flawless clarity. What’s even more remarkable about this piece is that the tiara doubles as a necklace and also features removable elements that can be worn separately. We would love for the new princess to have a custom tiara such as this to match her unique personality.
Maria Feodorovna’s Sapphire Bandeau
In the style of the Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara, Maria Feodorovna’s Sapphire Bandeau is grand but not too lavish, featuring a starburst pattern of diamond rays radiating from a central blue sapphire. Some say the tiara originally belonged to Maria Feodorovna, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the wife of Alexander III, who was Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Prince of Finland from 1881–1894. The Empress had a vast collection of jewelry that dispersed after her death, so if the tiara belonged to her, perhaps that’s how it fell into the possession of Queen Mary, wife of King George V of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 1910–1936. Mary left the tiara to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who often gave it to her daughter Princess Margaret to wear. While Queen Elizabeth has never worn this tiara in public, as part of the jewels owned personally by the monarchy of the United Kingdom, perhaps the new princess will delight us by wearing it.
Perhaps the new princess can resurrect this tiara and wear it out in public. So tell us, which tiara do you like the best? What type of tiara do you think the new princess will wear?