Remember when I said the Orange-Nassau Family Foundation had a lot of rubies? Understatement! These carmine gems must pile up over there in Amsterdam like junk mail on my desk.
Yes, the family has a second ruby parure, known as the Peacock or Peacock Tail parure. The moniker refers to the tiara’s center “peak'” flourish of ruby-topped diamond-stems fanning out like delicate feathers.
Before we all take up our pitchforks and brandish them in the name of claret bauble indignity, in her defense, Queen Wilhemina didn’t go out and buy an entire parure. She started with a meager tiara and a bowl of gruel…kidding! I dunno why I got all Oliver Twist out of nowhere. Don’t even like Charles Dickens. Long story*
In 1897 Queen Wilhelmina (left) commissioned a new tiara from Johann Eduard Schürmann & Co., the diamonds and rubies for which once belonged to Queen Sophie, Dad’s–aka King Willem III’s–first wife. Wife the Second sometimes referred to as ‘Mina’s mom or Queen Emma was the lucky duck who received last week’s Mellerio Ruby parure for her birthday. So yeah, she’s got that going for her…being second’s not a big deal any more with those sweet, sweet rubies.
The story goes that the parure eventually formed itself: its pieces coming together over the course of a few years. Don’t you love it when rubies just collect like dust bunnies in the corner? Yay! The Peacock Tail pieces added to procure a parure are as follows: (1) an august necklace that almost mirrors the tiara exactly (2) an enorma-brooch (3) multiple bracelets and (4) earrings. As an extra-cute gimmick, the peacock-tail spray can be remove and worn as an aigrette. (Hooray! Our favorite Tiara Term! Party! Pizza party!)
Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter set up the Orange Nassau Family Foundation in the 60s with the hopes of preventing the dispersion the royal family’s jewel collection all over Europe, given daughters marrying into other houses and whatnot. I guess Wilhelmina didn’t appreciate somebody else bossing her jewels around so she gave the Ruby Peacock directly to her granddaughter, Princess Irene. As the princess was Juliana’s second daughter, I can’t help but think that this was ‘Mina’s way of telling Juliana, “get your hands off my gems!”
I’m not sure if Princess Irene took the whole parure or just the tiara, but Queen Juliana was photographed wearing the necklace and painted wearing the necklace and bracelet. (See below.) Queen Beatrix has been seen sporting the brooch, so maybe it was just the tiara.In the 70s Princess Irene wore the tiara often, especially in the first years of her marriage to Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma. The couple divorced in 1981. Irene eventually stopped using the Ruby Peacock, although other pieces of the parure were seen on other family members. Many assumed the tiara was lost, perhaps sold. (It belonged to Irene privately and not the Orange-Nassau foundation.) It was labelled “Tiara MIA” until May of 2009. At a state dinner to welcome Sweden’s royal family, Princess Máxima appeared in the long-lost diamond-and-ruby tiara, pairing it with the necklace from the Mellerio Ruby parure. (As if we didn’t adore her enough in that red dress and the Mellerio Tiara at the Luxembourg wedding, she also dusted this tiara off!) Since then, it has been seen on both the princess and Queen Beatrix. Welcome back Peacock Ruby tiara!
*Okay maybe “Your Blog Hostess vs. Charles Dickens” isn’t that long of a story. We were assigned to read “Great Expectations” my freshman year of high school. One night I decided to draw myself a bath and cosy up in the tub with my homework. I dropped the tome into the tub; it took forever to dry. When it did it had turned from book into accordion. I never read it, still got an “A” in freshman English and have held gravity against Charles Dickens ever since. Can’t recall if I had to pay for the book or not.