Monday, April 1, 2013

Requests Sunday: Josephine of Leuchtenberg's Amethyst Parure

The third and final article on this week’s Sunday Requests is dedicated to Josephine of Leuchtenberg’s Amethyst Tiara and Parure. Several people requested an entry on this suite, and I also had a request for amethysts separately, so here we go. 
The Amethyst Tiara
This parure has many names and I suppose it’s a matter of choice which names to use; “Queen Josephine’s Amethyst Parure” is just my preference. Others call this set “The Napoleonic Amethyst Parure” or simply “The Swedish Amethyst Parure”. 

The Amethyst Demi-Parure dates back to the first French Empire. Originally, it belonged to Empress Josephine who gave the set as a wedding gift to Princess Augusta Amalia of Bavaria upon her marriage to Eugene de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg (Empress Josephine’s son).
Josephine of Leuchtenberg (right) and Queen Louise of Sweden (left). Queen Louise is wearing the original amethyst necklace.
When Princess Josephine, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Leuchtenberg, married Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden (future Oscar I), she brought with her a true treasure trove of jewels, which today comprise the core of not only Swedish but also Norwegian jewellery collections. Among them was the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure, the Cameo Parure, the magnificent emerald parure (the latter is with the Norwegian Royal Family), and of course, this amethyst parure. 

The original demi-parure consisted of a necklace, pendant earrings, two bracelets, a brooch, and a corsage ornament. The stones are set in gold, surrounded by diamonds set in silver. The amethysts are remarkable in both their deep purple colour and size. 
Close up of the Amethyst Parure (left), and Queen Silvia showing the amethyst parure in its current form (right)
The necklace was an imposing piece made of large oval amethysts in diamond frames with diamond ornaments in the Napoleonic style between them. Because of its size and setting, the piece was very heavy and uncomfortable to wear, as Queen Silvia said in the magnificent documentary “De Kongelige Juveler” (“The Royal Jewels”). 

Queen Silvia decided to solve two problems at once – the lack of a tiara in the parure and the heaviness of the necklace – by making some adjustments. She had the necklace mounted on a tiara frame, although the change isn't permanent. One of the fifteen stones from the necklace/tiara was left as a spare brooch, although it has also been used as a hair ornament and as a pendant. 
Princess Cristina  wearing the original necklace (left), Princess Margaretha wearing the original necklace (second left), Princess Margaretha wearing the tiara made from the original necklace, and the bracelets as a necklace (second right), and Princess Desiree wearing the tiara made from the original necklace (right)
At the same time, minor changes were made to the bracelets which could now be linked together to be worn as a necklace. The spare pendant from the necklace and the smaller stone of the corsage ornament can be suspended from it. All pendants of the bracelets are detachable so it can be shortened, if necessary. 

The current amethyst parure consists of a tiara (the former necklace), two brooches (the original corsage ornament and the spare pendant from the former necklace), two bracelets (which can be worn together as a necklace), and a pair of earrings. 
Queen Silvia wearing the Amethyst parure. In the picture on the right, she is wearing the bracelets linked together as a necklace with no pendants.
In the middle picture, she is wearing the bracelets linked together as a necklace with the smaller pendant from the corsage ornament.
In the picture on the right, she wears the spare pendant from the original necklace (now mounted as a tiara) as a hair ornament.
There are no surviving portraits of Josephine of Leuchtenberg  Sofia of Nassau (wife of Oscar II), Victoria of Baden (wife of Gustaf V), or Margaret of Connaught (first wife of Gustaf VI Adolf) wearing the amethysts. There are, however, pictures and portraits of Queen Louise (second wife of Gustaf VI Adolf) in this parure, although she didn't wear it nearly as often as the Leuchtenberg Sapphires. 

Although it is one of Queen Silvia’s signature jewels, the parure (in its complete form or separate elements of it) has been worn by most senior Swedish royal ladies throughout the years. Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Desiree and Princess Christina (sisters of the current King Carl XVI Gustaf) have all worn the parure on various occasions before and after their brother’s marriage to Silvia. 
Crown Princess Victoria (left and middle), and Princess Madeleine wearing the Amethyst Tiara
Nowadays, however, it is almost exclusively worn by Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria. While the Queen usually dons the entire parure, Victoria sometimes pairs various pieces of the set with other jewels from the royal collection. For instance, she wore the necklace (composed of two bracelets) with the Six Button Tiara. She also suspended the amethyst pendant (spare pendant from the original necklace/tiara) from a diamond riviere. Swedish Royal ladies are quite inventive with their jewels. 

Princess Madeleine debuted the amethyst parure during the last Nobel Prize ceremony. Unlike Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria who both wear the tiara as a diadem, sitting on top of their heads, Madeleine wore it more to the back of her head, more like a bandeau.
Close up of the earring, the spare pendant, one of the bracelets, and the necklace with the corsage ornament suspended from it (left).
Crown Princess Victoria wearing the bracelets linked as a necklace, and part of the corsage ornament as a brooch (middle).
Victoria wearing  part of the corsage ornament suspended from a diamond riviere, and the pendant as a brooch (right)
As with most of the important royal jewels, the amethyst suite is part of the Bernadotte Foundation, meaning it will remain with the main line of the Royal Family. 

I am a huge fan of amethysts so I am just bound to like an entire parure made of them – and one that is actually worn quite often by royal ladies too! The amethyst tiara is often criticised but I rather like the fact it is not in usual tiara form but more like a diadem or circlet.

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