In the beautiful documentary ‘Kungliga Smycken’, Queen Silvia and Princess Victoria open their jewelery vault just once. Behind the glitter and gleam of Sweden there seems to be a beautiful story of love, power and politics. And that intrigued us, because what would we hear if Máxima and Beatrix followed their example?
Like oysters. That’s how Jeruk closed when asked about their historic jewelry collection. We only know part of what they have and where all these beautiful things come from. Even Máxima’s inauguration crown is better known than it is known, and it’s unlikely this will change any time soon. Too much attention for royal treasures will only lead to unrest, according to King Willem-Alexander.
Things are very different in the Swedish court. Women see sparkle as a virtue and a royal duty, which is why they bring out a beautiful glow at every party. From historic cameo brooches to sweet pink topaz necklaces. In the two-part documentary Kungliga Smycken, the women go even further than shine, because with an extraordinary sense of beauty and history, they personally describe the most important masterpieces of their collection.
Here you can see how the gems are stored: on cassette
One of those masterpieces is a typical case of hating or liking it. Through the estate of Josefina van Leuchtenberg, half-grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte and wife of Oscar I of Sweden, the Swedish monarchy obtained an original cameo crown with a hand engraved on the god of love. Crafted by Napoleon’s favorite jeweler, Nitot, this gem exudes French court style from top to bottom. You have to like it, but they don’t seem to find it difficult in Sweden. Both Queen Silvia and Princess Victoria wore the gem on their wedding day.
Queen Silvia: “It is beautifully crafted, but very delicate. With pearls and rose gold, so soft. You have to be very careful with it. Today I don’t like traveling with this set. I used some of it during my last state visit to France because I wanted to tell a story. That it was a gift from Napoleon to Empress Josephine. When I said that to the president, he was very surprised. It is extraordinary to show the French people that there is a close relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Josephine, and the granddaughter of Josephine Josefina, who became Queen of Sweden.”
Generation after generation
If Máxima had to tell a similar story about the Orange collection, she would definitely come with the Stuart diadem. The sea green diamond that shines above this impressive gem has a rich history. In 1690, the Dutch stadtholder Willem III was crowned King of England. His wife, Mary Stuart, was presented with a pear-shaped sea green diamond with no less than 39.75 carats on the occasion. Over the centuries, the stone was passed down from generation to generation, and after many adventures, it adorned the Orange diamond diadem in the late nineteenth century.
Emma, Wilhelmina and Juliana know how to appreciate the (historical) value of stones and wear them on important occasions. But when Beatrix became queen, neither the stone nor the diadem disappeared from sight. Reportedly, Beatrix thought the gem was too flashy, too much.
Fortunately, when Máxima becomes queen, the question is not whether, but when Stuart’s crown will reappear. During a state visit to Luxembourg in May 2018, the crown first appeared (left), but without the stone. A year later, the sea green knoperd appeared on a state visit to England. The day after the “resurrection”, Máxima explained her jewelery choice: “The Stuart Diadem was bought for Mary Stuart in 1690, so it is a symbol of the very long relationship between the Netherlands and England. So we thought it was the right time to wear Stuart’s diamonds and diadem.” In Germany (2021), to everyone’s surprise, another version appeared. Highly simplified, but still impressive (right).
When asked if the heavy diadem also gave him a headache, Máxima replied with a grin of no. But it wasn’t a silly question, because Queen Silvia was now quite experienced with tiara headaches. In Kungliga Smycken he recounts that during the 1976 Nobel Prize he became unwell because the imprint of his crown was one inch deep into his scalp. To prevent a repeat of the failure, the help of a Swedish hairdresser was immediately called in. He designed a long headband that was knitted under the diadem, so that the weight could be distributed better and the metal would no longer press against Silvia’s skin. Since hair bands can be rendered in any color you want, you can’t see or see anything from them. In addition, diadems can also be more easily inserted into hairstyles with pins due to the crochet loops. In fact, Máxima and Beatrix had to talk to Swedish hairdressers, because in Holland the diadem is worn with a visible frame and only fastened to the metal with pins.
Photo: PPE/Swimming Pool
With such an extensive and shared collection of jewelry, of course it’s always a question of who wears what. In Sweden there seems to be an unwritten rule. Victoria points out in the documentary that she doesn’t wear certain jewelry because it’s too splurge. Only fit for a queen. We see a similar situation in the Netherlands. Since the inauguration, Máxima has worn a diadem that is different, and most importantly, larger than before. During a state visit to Japan, for example, he wore an impressive crown with more than fifty pearls and a hundred diamonds. The gem was made in the late nineteenth century for the young Queen Wilhelmina, and after her death was worn only by Juliana, Beatrix and Máxima. Beatrix even wore a diadem on her wedding day, and if you take a closer look at her wedding dress, you’ll notice that the gem print has even been applied to the sides of her wedding dress with a tiny razor blade.
Another masterpiece from the royal collection is the ruby diadem Mellerio. As the name suggests, the gem was made by French jeweler Mellerio, who was allowed to operate the toute royale in the nineteenth century. King Willem III was also successful, and in 1889 even ordered a complete set of rubies and diamonds. The ruby diadem also includes a necklace, bracelet, fan and two brooches. Princess Beatrix might be able to tell a very interesting story about the set, because she has worn jewelry in some of the most beautiful places in the world for years. From the Bellevue Palace in Germany to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Royal Palace in Copenhagen.
We won’t be seeing Princess Laurentien with the aforementioned masterpiece soon, and Amalia may also have to be patient for a while. But how are gems distributed if there’s a big party, where several women have to wear diadems? Princess Beatrix had told her during an informal conversation that this only happened in mutual consultation, with the most important woman of course coming first. The same thing happened in Sweden. Queen Silvia: “It really depends on what kind of jewelry you wear, and it only depends a little on the color and style of the dress. Sometimes we match the jewelry to the dress we wear, but most of the time we match the dress to the jewelry. We talked about it and discussed it. We try not to wear the same colors. So yes, we asked. They (the princesses, ed.) asked what I wanted, and I asked what they wanted to wear. This is a family conversation. A way to tune it so it’s beautiful.”
Therefore, choosing jewelry is not an easy task, but according to Queen Silvia and Princess Victoria, wearing them is more than special. Victoria: “You keep looking and looking. Jewelry tells a lot about time and sometimes about the people themselves. They bring history to life. Jewelry and other items bring us closer to the individual. It’s not just something. It was something that someone had worn and touched. It’s beautiful.” Queen Silvia agreed: “The jewels say a lot. They are a symbol of a country. A treasure, a cultural heritage. They represent all that Sweden has stood for.” With that in mind, a Dutch jewelery documentary is all the more interesting. Hopefully Máxima also sees this text…
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