Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Turquoise Tiara

Today marks the Anniversary of the Death of Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, who passed away on this day in 1969! The elegant Queen had a splendid and diverse jewellery collection, piled with family heirlooms, as well as contemporary acquisitions and commissions. Some of her jewels remained within the Spanish Royal Family, and are now worn by Queen Letizia but today we are featuring an exquisite piece, whose fate and current whereabouts are involved in mystery: her Turquoise Tiara, which was featured previously, but now has much more additional information that we can now reveal!

Fleur-de-Lys Tiara | Chaumet Tiara | Mellerio Shell Tiara | Cartier Pearl Tiara | Empress Eugenie’s Emeralds | Aquamarine Parure | Turquoise Tiara | Joyas de Pasar | Diamond Earrings | Diamond Bracelets | Cartier Stomacher | Spanish Royal Tiaras

Upon marrying the King of Spain, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg was showered with hundreds of impressive gifts. This Queen-worthy trousseau was formed by presents given to her by her husband, relatives, friends, as well as various institutions. Among them, there were spectacular jewels that gave the new Queen the bases for her to begin to assemble a jewellery collection that is considered legendary to this day. 

In the following years, Doña Victoria continued to wear her Turquoise Parure very frequently. The press did not spare words to praise these jewels that enhanced Queen Ena’s famed blue eyes: 

The blue stones harmonise with the blonde beauty of the sovereign, idealising her”. On a later date: “Queen Victoria was resplendent with beauty. Her blonde hair formed a Queen’s crown and vanished like a golden cloud the outline of her face, which was crowned by a magnificent diadem of turquoise and diamonds”. 

Queen Ena was also portrayed wearing her turquoises by Spanish Painter Modesto Teixidor Torres. The Parure was also worn for a solidarity soirée at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid to aid the Spanish Red Cross, a humanitarian institution that was very dear to the Queen’s heart, which she helped and assisted throughout her life. On both occasions, she is also wearing her beloved Diamond Rivière Necklace, which was already reaching the size of a sautoir.

At a later point, Queen Victoria Eugenie decided to refashion most of the elements of the Turquoise Parure. The tiara was opened, so that it could be worn as a bandeau, the necklace became a long diamond chain-link sautoir with turquoise medallions, the earrings were elongated, and the brooch was totally reset. This renovated version of the Parure can be appreciated in Infanta Isabel Alfonsa’s 1929 Wedding group pictures.  

Apparently, the Turquoise Tiara’s design no longer pleased Queen Victoria. After the Great War, fashion and jewellery changed a lot. The taste for pieces with fluid lines, scrolls and garlands, which characterised the Belle Époque, was replaced by a more geometric aesthetic, with clean lines and symmetries, what we know today as Art Deco. Consequently, the Queen decided to dismantle the Tiara, using the stones to commission another one, more in line with this new aesthetic.

Chaumet was the jeweller responsible for making this new Tiara. Currently, in the Salon des Diadèmes at the Parisian headquarters of the Maison in the iconic Place Vendôme, it is possible to appreciate a maquette of the tiara made of nickel silver (a copper and tin league) painted with gouache.  

From the Maison’s workshops came a majestic piece made of platinum, with seven stylized fleurs-de-lys and intertwined ribbons. The Dynastic symbol of the House of Bourbon is never forgotten. This work is done between the years 1930 and 1931. Many of the turquoises that adorned the previous version of the Tiara were set in the new one. Some of the remaining stones were used in other pieces of jewellery, namely a bracelet made by Cartier.  

However, it is common knowledge what takes place in 1931: a new republican regime is proclaimed in Spain and King Alfonso XIII and his family went into exile. Sadly, Queen Victoria Eugenie could not shine with her new Art Deco Turquoise Tiara in the saloons of the Royal Palace of Madrid. Despite being exiled and having had to sell a large deal of her collection throughout the years, the Chaumet Tiara was, together with the Fleur de Lys Tiara and the Cartier Pearl Scroll Tiara, one of the three headpieces that the Queen managed to keep until the very end of her life. 

Queen Victoria Eugenie wore her magnificent Tiara for several social gatherings and portraits, including a painting by the artist Tosti Russell, made in 1938.

In 1954, while attending the 18th Birthday Gala of her granddaughter, Princess Alessandra Torlonia, the eldest daughter of Infanta Beatriz, the Queen paired her Turquoise Tiara with her Cartier Diamond Stomacher.

In the early 1960s, an almost 80-year-old Queen Victoria Eugenie was notably photographed with her Chaumet Turquoise Tiara, together with her Diamond Rivière Necklaces, her Diamond Earrings, and her Diamond Twin Bracelets.

The Queen also loaned it to her youngest daughter, Infanta María Cristina, Countess of Marone, who wore it at one of the Balls that took place in Athens days before the Wedding of her nephew, the Prince of Asturias, to Princess Sofía of Greece in 1962. On this occasion, the Infanta also wore other pieces of the Turquoise Parure, which she had received from Queen Ena twenty-two years before as a gift on the occasion of her Marriage to Enrico Marone-Cinzano in 1940.  Curiously, it was the Infanta who ended up inheriting the Chaumet Turquoise Tiara upon her mother’s death in 1969. It would not be the only tiara she inherited, as she also received the Cartier Pearl Tiara as part of her share.

Years later, and because she did not live “a court life”, the Countess of Marone decides to dispose of these two pieces. The first potential buyers she asked were her niece and nephew, the now King Juan Carlos  and Queen Sofia of Spain, who ended up buying only the Cartier Pearl Tiara. In November 1984, the Chaumet Tiara was put on sale at Christie’s Geneva. The auction catalogue notes that the Tiara was a wedding gift from King Alfonso XIII, being debuted in one of the galas that took place during the marriage celebrations in 1906, what we now know is untrue. It was auctioned for $85,000, being reportedly acquired by an ‘international jewel collector of royal origin.’ However, the turquoises that so enhanced Queen Ena’s beauty have been replaced by diamonds, as they had lost their blue colour as the years went by.  

This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!

Fleur-de-Lys Tiara | Chaumet Tiara | Mellerio Shell Tiara | Cartier Pearl Tiara | Empress Eugenie’s Emeralds | Aquamarine Parure | Turquoise Tiara | Joyas de Pasar | Diamond Earrings | Diamond Bracelets | Cartier Stomacher | Spanish Royal Tiaras


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