Sunday, February 10, 2013

Italian Royal Jewels: Queen Margherita of Savoy's Emerald Parure

One of my favourite emerald sets of all times has to be Queen Margherita of Savoy's emerald parure.

Parts of the original parure: the necklace (with detachable centrepiece), the devant de corsage, and the earrings
This gorgeous parure may no longer be in one piece and indeed, no longer with the House of Savoy, but we can still admire its exquisite beauty. It is notable also notable for its historical value, the emeralds of amazing quality, and the somewhat unusual combination of emeralds, diamonds and pearls.

The parure made its way into Savoy jewellery collection as part of a marriage settlement: in 1841, King Charles Albert of Sardinia acquired the set from Viennese jeweller Delsotto for the marriage settlement between Archduchess Maria Adelaide of Austria (future Queen Adelaide) and his son, the Duke of Savoy (future King Victor Emamanuel II). 

Queen Margherita (left and centre) and Queen Elena (right) wearing elements of the parure.
In the first picture, Margherita is wearing the parure's original Emerald Tiara. 
There is no known portrait of Queen Adelaide wearing the parure. She gave it to her daughter-in-law, Margherita of Savoy, on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Umberto (future Umberto I of Italy). 

Margherita had a keen eye for jewellery and remodelled some of the pieces, including the aforementioned tiara. When Margherita’s son, Victor Emmanuel (future Victor Emmanuel III of Italy) married Elena of Montenegro, the Queen gave her all or parts of the parue. Pieces from the dismantled tiara were used to create a brand new tiara from Elena. 
The Devant de Corsage (corsage ornament)
The original parure was made by Austrian jeweller Delsotto and was composed of a necklace, a tiara, a devant de corsage, and a pair of earrings. There are very few portraits of the original Emerald Tiara because it was dismantled fairly quickly. 

Based on the portraits, it would appear that the tiara had a square-cut emerald in the centre set in a diamond frame, with three oval emeralds and three smaller square emeralds on sides. There might be pearls somewhere but it’s hard to tell. After the tiara was dismantled, the emeralds from it were used to create other pieces of jewellery. 
The Emerald, Diamond and Pearl Necklace with detachable centrepiece
Whereabouts of the devant de corsage and the earrings is not known although they were probably sold as well. The corset ornaments consisted of two square-cut emeralds in a diamond setting suspended from each other in a brooch form. The earrings were in the same design as the rest of the parure: it was made of a square-cut emerald with a large emerald in diamond setting suspended from it. 

The necklace consisted of five square-cut emeralds in a diamond frame, connected to each other by three rows of pearls. The centrepiece was a large rectangle emerald, also in a diamond setting, which weighed 47.7 carats. A smaller emerald pendant was suspended from it, which in turn supported a large pear-shaped emerald. 
The detachable centrepiece from the necklace which could be worn as a brooch
The central three-part piece was detachable and could be worn separately as a brooch. The necklace remained with the family until 1985 when most of it was sold from an auction. The centrepiece was sold as a brooch. 

Only three pieces of the emerald parure remain with the family. One of them is a pendant from the necklace which now belongs to Marina, Princess of Naples – wife of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, pretender to the former Italian Throne. Marina had the pendant placed in a choker setting and is occasionally pictured wearing it. 

The pendant from the necklace (left) worn by Marina Doria as a centrepiece of a choker (middle and right)
I am a huge fan of chokers but I wish they hadn't dismantled and sold the necklace. It was such an original and beautiful piece! Although the brooch doesn't look too shabby on its own as well.

Note: the images of the devant de corsage and earrings are recreations of the original pieces, and not pictures of the original elements of the parure. 

No comments:

Post a Comment