“It’s true, jewels are not dead things and for them to live they should change owners every now and then.”
~ Queen Victoria Eugenia “Ena” of Spain
Your Blog Hostess has had an odd fascination with today’s tiara for odd reasons. We purchased an historical fiction about Queen Ena the last time we *summered* in Spain. The novel is atrocious. The prose is more cliché than–I dunno, what’s cliché nowadays?–a sad clown? It was written by a gossip columnist, take it from there.
The book proved unreadable, yet there was one thing we couldn’t get out of our head: a Cartier aquamarine tiara so exquisite that the paparazzi used it to paint the Queen of Spain as a self-indulgant Marie Antoinette. What became of this resplendent tiara or had it existed at all? Like fellow exiled royals had it been sold to pay the bills? So imagine my surprise when I found the link to this article in April.
According to the book Las Joyas de las Reinas de España, Queen Ena (more formally, Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg.) fell in love with aquamarines when she saw a piece belonging to her cousin Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and begged her husband, King Alfonso XIII for a similar piece. The Fonz bought this tiara from la joyería Ansorena as an anniversary gift. Originally, the tiara hung with poiré [tear-drop] pearls…thus referring to it as Ena’s Aquamarine Tiara at this point sounds silly. Actually, it hardly looks like the same piece of headgear at all.I love that old postcard. Queen Ena, a Battenberg princess by birth not to mention Queen Victoria’s youngest grandchild, probably waited as long as it took to find as splendid a set of aquamarines possible before she swapped out the pearls. She did so artfully, ¿verdad? I never considered myself a fan of aquamarines until I looked at those stunners.
You also get a good look at that hefty necklace often referred to as a sautoir. Great word, huh? Let’s endeavor to use it often! Vocabulary! Excelsior! The Aquamarine tiara eventually became the six-piece parure with a bracelet, earrings brooch, and ring in addition to the sautoir and the tiara.
In 1935, Ena, in the spirit of her jewels-are-living-things philosophy, gave the parure to her daughter la Infanta Beatríz when she married Alessandro Torlonia, Prince of Civitella-Cesi. I don’t know why all the Spanish princesses are called infantas and only the wife of the Príncipe de Asturias gets to be a princesa. Just dumb linguistics again, like the circlet/tiara/bandeau/diadem debate. But honestly who wants to be an infant when you can be a princess? Often We like to be cheeky with Spain and Spainsh as We are married to it…
It was Beatríz–who finally got to be a princess, albeit of Civitella-Cesi but hey We’d take it–who gave the tiara its big facelift. The renovation gave the tiara its current look, similar to the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, complete with the removable pendant option for those dulcid aquamarines. I just adore the photo above, with Sofía of Greece, probably Princesa de Asturias at that time, looking cute as a button in the Prussian Diamond Tiara, Queen Ena herself center in the Fleur de Lys tiara and the Infanta Beatríz in her mother’s aquamarines. There’s something more that amuses me…it’s the way they’re standing. They look like the Super Friends, bursting out the door of the League of Justice, headed to thwart crime.
Beatríz de los Torlonia left the parure to both her daughters, Olimpia and Sandra. Olimpia used the tiara without sans hanging azure gems to pin down her veil when she married millionaire Paul-Annik Weiller (below).
It appears that the sister do indeed share the adrezo de aguamarinas, different pieces appeared in 2004 less than a week apart. Olimpia wore the tiara to Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark’s wedding and inside seven days Sandra appeared in the sautoir and other minor aquamarine accoutrements at the pre-wedding banquet for Felipe of Asturias. I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Sandra is married to Count Clemente Lecquio di Assaba or even more relevant that Olimpia’s daughter Sibilla is married to the third son of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
The article (in Spanish) discusses King Juan Carlos’ attempts to buy the aquamarine tiara and lo demás del parure back from his cousins, Olimpia and Sandra Torlonia, with the intention of gifting it to Queen Sofía for their 50th wedding anniversary. At the time negotiations were not going well, with the aderezo de aguamarinas in a Swiss vault and Olimpia as pliable as a brick wall. Share it as they may have, seems Olimpia pulls the strings, or holds the keys rather, to the vault.
While the article heaves rhetorically on open-ended gossip, case closed in October 2012. Now-princess Sibilla (just like grandma Beatríz!) wore Ena’s Aquamarine tiara to the royal wedding of hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume to Countess Stéphanie of Lannoy.
Regardless of how the talks ended, seeing Olimpia’s daughter show up just a few months later must have felt like a real “sit-on-it” to Juan Carlos. I don’t know why I feel like I’m supposed to take sides in this, especially considering I don’t even know if it were a debate or not. However taking into consideration what Queen Ena said about jewellery and how easily she let something she loved so much out of the family, don’t you think it’s time for the jewels to “live” again?
Do you think it’s the Torlonia’s turn, after three generations, to sell them over to the other branch of the family? Who do you think should hold on to the aquamarine parure for now?
*[Snort of derision here.] This means we chaperoned a group of high schoolers on one of those teen tours and then had insomnia at Torres Bellas for a month. (Alcorcón is sooooo hot in August.)