Queen Margherita’s Pink Diamond Stomacher

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  • Post published:January 4, 2024
  • Post category:News

Today marks the Anniversary of the Death of Queen Margherita of Italy, who passed away on this day in 1926! The Savoy Princess who married her cousin and became the first Queen of a unified Italy, Queen Margherita had a spectacular Jewellery Collection, one of the highlights of which was this magnificent Pink Diamond Stomacher!

Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara | Savoy Knot Tiara | Pearl Bracelet Bandeau | Diamond Wreath Tiara | Pink Diamond Stomacher

But first, lets learn about Queen Margherita! The daughter of Prince Ferdinand of Savoy, Duke of Genoa and Princess Elisabeth of Saxony, Princess Margherita received an advanced education and was described as sensitive, proud and with a strong force of will without being hard, as well as having the ability to be charming when she chose to. In 1868, she married her first cousin, Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, son of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, the first King of unified Italy. The couple had only one son, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, becoming the King and Queen of Italy in 1878. Despite the King’s unpopularity, Queen Margherita was a very popular figure and in 1889, the Margherita pizza, whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represented the Italian flag, was named after her. After King Umberto’s assassination in 1900, she continued to be active in political and social affairs up to her death in 1926. Queen Margherita was the third Queen Mother, after Queen Olga of Greece and Queen Lovisa of Denmark, to have been born in 1851 and die in 1926.

In 1868, Queen Margherita ordered this striking Diamond Stomacher in the shape of an elaborate bow, which was set with 768 diamonds, the largest of which was a spectacular Pink Diamond. The Stomacher was bought using funds from the Italian State Treasury rather than the House of Savoy, so it became a part of the Italian Crown Jewels.

Queen Margherita was photographed and depicted wearing the Pink Diamond Stomacher with the Savoy Knot Tiara and her Diamond Wreath Tiara in numerous portraits, paintings, and State Occasions until King Umberto I’s assassination in 1900.

The Crown Jewels then passed to Queen Elena, who became the second Italian Queen, and was only pictured in the Pink Diamond Stomacher on a handful of occasions in the first few years of King Victor Emmanuel III’s Reign, until Queen Elena gave her personal Jewels to fund the Italian War Effort when they joined the First World War in 1915.

After the War, Queen Elena only wore the Savoy Knot Tiara and necklaces from the Italian Crown Jewels, and usually also the Diamond Stomacher, for numerous portraits and paintings, as well as formal State events including the Wedding of Prince Philipp of Hesse and her daughter, Princess Mafalda of Savoy, in 1925, as well as for the Italian Royal Family’s visit to the Vatican to mark the signing of the the Lateran Treaty in 1929, ending the  60-year feud between the Vatican and the Kingdom of Italy.

Queen Elena also wore the Diamond Stomacher for the Wedding of her only son, Crown Prince Umberto of Italy, to Princess Marie Jose of Belgium in 1930, and also likely for the Wedding of Tsar Boris of Bulgaria to her daughter, Princess Giovanna of Savoy, and the Wedding of her younger daughter, Princess Maria Francesca of Savoy, to Prince Luigi of Bourbon-Parma in 1939.

The Pink Diamond Stomacher was also worn by Queen Elena with the Savoy Knot Tiara for the Christening of the Prince of Naples in 1937 and at the Coronation of Pope Pius XII in 1939, as well as during the Yugoslavian State Visit in 1939. Though some members of the Royal Family wore Tiaras during the Second World War, there are no pictures that show Queen Elena did wear jewels as well, though it is known that the Jewels were hidden in a tunnel in central Rome during the War, and then locked away in a safe at the Quirinale Palace.

In an effort to repair the monarchy’s image after the fall of Mussolini’s regime, King Victor Emmanuel transferred his powers to the Crown Prince in 1944, eventually abdicating in May 1946 right before a referendum on the monarchy the following month, following which Italy was declared a republic. Queen Marie José would have gotten the Crown Jewels but not had a chance to wear them in the month of the King’s reign, and while she took all the personal jewels of the House of Savoy into exile, the Crown Jewels remained with the King, who put them in a sealed case and deposited them in a vault at the Bank of Italy in Rome, with a note stating they should go to ‘whoever has the right to them’. The Crown Jewels consisted of the Savoy Knot Tiara along with a Diamond Swag Necklace, a Diamond Riviere, a large Diamond Chain Necklace, a Diamond Bow Brooch with a Pink Diamond, and various Brooches, Bracelets and loose stones.

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However, no one has been able to decide who has a right to the jewels and they have remained at the Bank of Italy for the past 76 years. The case sat sealed and while members of the Royal Family were unable to return to Italy, in 1976, they were represented by agents when the case was opened in the presence of government and bank officials, legal experts and Giovanni Bulgari to confirm they had not been stolen. When Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, Prince of Naples, the son of King Umberto II, and his son and heir, the Prince of Venice, were allowed to return to Italy in 2002, they stated they would not lay any claims on the Jewels, saying “for that matter we have no claim on the Crown Jewels. We have nothing in Italy and we are not asking for anything,” though they did request for the Crown Jewel to be put on public display.

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However, earlier this year, the Savoy Royal Family, led by the Prince of Naples and his sisters, Princess Maria Pia, Princess Maria Gabriella, and Princess Maria Beatrice, launched the first formal request to regain possession of the Italian Crown Jewels, saying:

The jewels kept at the Bank of Italy have never been donated, nor have they been confiscated. They are private jewels.

There is no such thing as Italian crown jewels; they were privately owned by my family.

The case remains ongoing

Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara | Savoy Knot Tiara | Pearl Bracelet Bandeau | Diamond Wreath Tiara | Pink Diamond Stomacher


Queen Margherita’s Musy Tiara

Savoy Knot Tiara

Diamond Wreath Tiara

Pearl Bracelet Bandeau

Pink Diamond Stomacher

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