Worn by the Queens of the Hellenes (Greece), this beautifully delicate Ruby and Diamond Parure includes a Ruby Olive Wreath and Diamond tiara, a pair of Diamond and Ruby drop earrings, an impressive Diamond and Ruby necklace and two magnificent Diamond and Ruby brooches. Originating in Imperial Russia, it can still be seen at important Royal events today.
Like many of the grand jewels belonging to the Greek Royal family, this Parure originates with its first queen, Queen Olga. After marrying in 1867, King George I of Greece is said to have purchased a single, rare Pigeon Blood Ruby every year for their wedding anniversary. Eventually, he commissioned a magnificent suite of jewels for the gems to be set in, choosing a powerful symbol of Ancient Greece, the laurel wreath.
Olga’s son, Prince Christopher wrote in his memoirs:
My mother had some beautiful jewels. Her rubies were famous, for my father had delighted in collecting them for her, saying that of all stones they suited her white skin best.
When Queen Olga died in 1926, the Rubies were inherited by her fourth son Prince Nicholas. His wife, the Russian Grand Duchess, Elena Vladimirovna (often referred to as Princess Nicholas) remained the main owner of the Parure until her death in 1957. The couple had three daughters and Princess Nicolas would loan or gift her jewellery to each of them.
The Ruby Parure was a particular favourite of her eldest daughter, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia. As the wife of the regent, Prince Paul, Princess Olga was effectively the first lady, (the Queen Mother, Queen Maria having retired to England). As such, she was required to wear grand jewels for state events, often choosing her mother’s Rubies.
Princess Nicolas also once lent the Parure to her other daughter Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent for the state opening of parliament in 1937
After Princess Nicholas’ death in 1957 (whether by inheritance or via a discreet sale) the Parure returned to the Greek Royal Family and was next seen on Queen Frederica.
She wore the set frequently to important events throughout her tenure as Queen, including the Pre – Wedding ball of her daughter Princess Sophie to Juan Carlos of Spain and on a state visit to Great Britain in 1963.
When her son King Constantine married the Danish Princess Anne – Marie in 1964, Queen Frederica gave the Ruby Parure to her daughter-in-law, as a wedding present (She also received the Greek Emerald Parure).
The new Queen of the Hellenes first wore the Rubies for her Pre-Wedding dinner in Athens.
The Greek Monarchy was overthrown in 1967, forcing Constantine and Ann Marie into exile. However, the Greek Royals are closely related to the other royal families of Europe. Queen Anne Marie is the younger sister of Queen Margarethe of Denmark, King Constantine is Queen Sofia of Spain’s brother and Prince William’s Godfather. This means that there are still many occasions for these jewels to be worn at.
In 1968, The Rubies were seen at Queen Anne Marie sister’s, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, wedding in an unusual high setting.
The Parure is still very much in use today but given the Greek Monarchy is now defunct and the Greek Royals will inevitably fade from public view, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this magnificent suite of jewels.