Despite only existing from 1918 to 1945, The Kingdom of Yugoslavia held an impressive royal jewellery collection.
The main branch of the family may have owned the Yugoslavian Emeralds, but I would argue that the junior members of the Karađorđević clan possessed the more magnificent jewels.
In 1923, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (first cousin of King Alexander I) married Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark. This marriage was particularly advantageous as Olga was related to almost all the important royal families in Europe. Her father was Prince Nicolas of Greece and her mother had been born Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, daughter of the formidable and jewel obsessed Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the Grand Duchess Vladimir.
Her maternal grandmother, Queen Olga of Greece, was also a Russian Grand Duchess by birth with her own magnificent jewellery collection.
As she was growing up, it was a Romanov family tradition to give girls two diamonds a year for birthdays and name days until they reached adulthood.
By the time she was sixteen, Olga already had 26 diamonds that she could sew in to her Kokoshnik, the traditional Russian court headdress.
When she married King George I of Greece in 1867, Queen Olga had the diamonds converted into a Rivière Necklace
Designed as twenty-six graduated cushion-cut diamonds, mounted in gold and silver, circa 1860, currently 38.0 cm long, in red leather Cartier case. Typical with jewellery from the time, the old mine cuts are mounted onto a silver backing to improve the stones colour.
Olga would wear the necklace during her time as Queen and miraculously managed to retain her jewels through both the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Greek monarchy in 1917.
When her granddaughter and namesake, Princess Olga married in 1923, she received many bejewelled wedding presents from her family including her Boucheron Tiara and Diamond Kokoshnik. Queen Olga chose this occasion to give the Rivière Necklace to her granddaughter, which she proudly wore on her wedding day.
When King Alexander was assassinated in 1929 and Prince Paul became the regent of Yugoslavia. Due to the retirement of Queen Marie, Princess Olga became the de-facto first lady.
She would go on to borrow her grandmother’s Ruby Olive Wreath Parure from her mother but she would wear her Rivière Necklace for many formal portraits and important international events.
After the fall of Yugoslavia in 1945, Prince Paul and Princess Olga went into exile, but due to Olga’s close relation to other reigning European royals, the Rivière Necklace was still seen at major events.
It is unclear who inherited the Rivière Necklace after Olga’s death in 1997 but it appeared at Christie’s Auction house in 2006, realising a final price of 1,005,600 CHF. It’s current whereabouts are unknown.