The Cameo parure at the Swedish Royal Court, jewellery with great Heritage.


cameo tiaraStill today some Royal family members wear jewellery with an outstanding history. Unfortunately, not many people know the origin and history of these jewellery.

One of them is the Cameo parure which first bellowed to Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (see picture and not wearing the tiara), first wife of Emperor Napoleon I of France. A parure is a set mostly composed by a necklace, earrings, bracelets and sometimes a tiara. The Cameo parure has probably been made by the French jeweller Marie-Etienne Nitot for Empress Joséphine.

Cameos were very popular in the early 1800s, and this Cameo parure is a spectacle to behold with its seven cameos composed together with pearls and gold set all around them. The cameos were probably not originally made to go together due to their variation in size and colour, but the famous jeweller Nitot made a very delicate and well balanced tiara with the cameos.

Empress Joséphine probably received the parure from her husband - Napoleon I - in 1809, the same year he divorced from her. But there is no prove she ever wore it as there are no portraits of Joséphine wearing the parure. But her daughter (from her first marriage, while her marriage with Napoleon Bonaparte was the second one), Hortense, was painted with the Cameo tiara in 1812. This was the first time that the Cameo tiara has been painted in a portrait. Either the cameos were made for Hortense - as she was briefly Queen of Holland and needed some major jewellery - or they were made for Joséphine, who then gave them first to her daughter. Furthermore, Vincent Meylan, jewellery historian, has argued that Joséphine merely loaned the cameos to Hortense, and that they were later inherited by her son, the Duke of Leuchtenberg.

After Josephine’s’ death, her son Eugène (and not her daughter Hortense) inherited the Cameo parure. Eugène de Beauharnais married Princess Augusta of Bavaria in a dynastic wedding. His father-in-law, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, bestows the title of Duke of Leuchtenberg on him, to recognize Eugene’s loyalty.


cameon tiara, one of the world luxury jewelleryThe eldest daughter of the Royal couple, Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, married Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden and Norway. The marriage is also a dynastic one, arranged by Oscar's father, King Carl XIV Johan. Though Oscar is a Swedish prince, his family's roots are just as French as Josephine’s are. His father was born Jean Bernadotte and served as a Marshal of the Empire under Napoléon before he was elected as Sweden's future king. Oscar's mother, Désirée Clary, had been engaged to Napoléon until he met Joséphine de Beauharnais in Sweden, she is known as Queen Desideria. It seems very likely that Joséphine of Leuchtenberg  - also named Josefina - receives her grandmother's Cameo parure as a wedding gift from her father at this point, taking the set with her to Stockholm.


The tiara’s nearly crown shape echoes the Swedish tradition of bridal crowns, and the centre cameo depicts the fitting love story of Cupid and Psyche from Greek Mythology. It was worn as a wedding crown by Queen Sibylla 1932, by Princess Birgitta in 1961 and by Princess Désirée in 1964. Later, King Carl XVI Gustave married with Silvia Sommerlath. She wore the Cameo parure at their wedding in 1976. Although much of the Swedish royal jewellery collection is a part of the Bernadotte Family Foundation, the cameo parure is the personal property of the king, and Silvia is the only person who wears it in different manners over the next three decades. Even at the annual Nobel Prize ceremony in 1992, 1996 and 2000, Queen Silvia wore the Cameo parure. Most recently, the Cameo tiara was worn by Crown Princess Victoria for her wedding in 2010 (see last picture). 


Text ©World Luxury Jewellers




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