Friday, February 8, 2013

Italian Royal Jewels: Queen Maria Vittoria's Emerald Necklace

The collection of Savoy jewels never ceases to amaze me; even though huge chunks were sold off over the years, what remains is still mesmerizingly beautiful and really impressive. This necklace is among my personal favourites.
Princess Helene's Emerald and Diamond Necklace
The origins of the necklace are somewhat obscure. Some say it belonged to the Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo, wife of Amadeo I of Spain (known as Amadeo, 1st Duke of Aosta after his abdication). 

Yet other sources claim Princess Helene of Orleans received the necklace as a wedding gift upon her marriage to Prince Emanuele Filiberto, 2nd Duke of Aosta – the son of Amadeo I and Maria Vittoria.
Princess Helene of Orleans wearing her Emerald and Diamond Necklace
To distinguish this necklace from the other emerald necklace of Savoy provenance (which was definitely a wedding gift to Princess Helene), I'll call this one "Maria Vittoria's Emerald Necklace". Whoever the original owned of the necklace was, Princess Helene was the first person who was pictured wearing it. 

The necklace was created in the second half of the 19th century by French jewellers. It consists of square-cut emeralds in diamond frames, with emerald drops hanging from each frame. 
Archduchess Margherita wearing the Emerald and Diamond Necklace
Princess Helene gave the necklace to Princess Anne of Orleans (her niece), on the occasion of the latter’s marriage to her elder son, Prince Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta. In turn, Princess Anne left the necklace to her own daughter, Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta. 

Princess Margherita became Archduchess of Austria-Este upon her marriage to Archduke Robert (son of Emperor Charles I of Austria). Their eldest son is Archduke Lorenz who married Princess Astrid of Belgium, the only daughter of King Albert II of the Belgians. 
Princess Astrid wearing the Emerald and Diamond Necklace
Archduchess Margherita often loans the necklace, as well as other jewels from the family collection, to her daughter-in-law. Astrid has worn the necklace to quite a few important royal gatherings, including the Gala in honour of King Harald of Norway’s 70th birthday. 

I love this necklace but if I were Astrid, I would remove two of the pendants on the sides and would convert them into earrings. I would also make the centre pendant detachable to be worn as a brooch. I would... Oh, the things I could do if I had access to some of those jewels!

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