The Leuchtenberg Sapphire parure, a lot of history in one jewellery set


Another important and historical royal parure, which is still worn today by Swedish Queen Sylvia is definitely the Leuchtenberg Sapphire parure. But what is the story behind the set of these exceptional jewellery pieces.


queen sophina with world luxury jewellerySome jewellery sets and tiara’s from European Royal Courts find their origin in France, and more specifically with the Imperial Court of Napoleon I. The Leuchtenberg parure, was probably the wedding gift from Napoléon to Princess Augusta of Bavaria, Duchess of Leuchtenberg and daughter of Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1806, Princess Augusta married Eugene de Beauharnais, the only son of Empress Eugenie de Beauharnais, wife of Napoleon I. The father-in-law of Eugene, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, bestows him the title of Duke of Leuchtenberg, to recognize Eugene’s loyalty.
Later, the eldest daughter of the Royal couple, Josefina 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 Josefina’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. In the picture above, Queen Josefina is wearing the sapphire tiara, necklace and original earrings.


queen victoria wearring world luxury jewelleryAfter Queen Josefina’s death, the sapphire parure was passed to the future Queen Sophia, who apparently never wore the Leuchtenberg parure. In 1881, the parure was presented as a wedding gift to her daughter-in-law, Princess Victoria of Baden, who married King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway. Later, Queen Victoria of Sweden wore the Leuchtenberg tiara and necklace in the picture beside. Before 1930, the Leuchtenberg parure was still a private possession of the King of Sweden. Instead of leaving the sapphires to her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Louise, Queen Victoria decides to bequeath the jewels to the Bernadotte Family Foundation. This decision ensures that the Leuchtenberg sapphires remain in trust in Sweden, which means that the jewellery set could never leave the family. It also means that any of the royal women entitled to wear the family's jewels can use the jewellery set. But in practice, only Queen Sylvia wears the Leuchtenberg tiara.

queen silvia wearing world luxury jewelleryThe Leuchtenberg parure is considered to be one of the most beautiful displays ever of jewellery craftsmanship and also one of the most complete, containing a tiara, necklace, earrings, brooch and 2 hairpins. The tiara consists of eleven separate sections with impressive sapphires each. The tiara is seen as very flexible and quite lightweight. This means it can be adjusted to perfectly fit the shape of the wearer’s head: it can be worn in any form, from a tiara (as an open circle) to a crown (as a closed circle). It is even so flexibly constructed so that it lays flat in its case.  There is also an attachment capability to switch the sapphires with other gemstones. Only one portrait of Queen Josefina of Sweden shows the Leuchtenberg Tiara with pearls, but it is still not proved that these pearls were part of the parure, because the archive doesn’t mention any pear-shaped pearls bellowing to the parure. These characteristics are probably the reason why the tiara has become Queen Silvia’s favourite tiara during official events. In the picture above, is Queen Sylvia wearing the tiara, the earrings and the brooch.

Beside the tiara, the Leutchenberg parure is composed of a necklace, earrings, a brooch and two hairpins. Originally, there were probably four hairpins but because the former earrings were missing from the set, Queen Louise of Sweden probably converted the larger two hairpins into a pair of sapphire earrings surrounded by diamonds.  


Text ©World Luxury Jewellers




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