Worn by the Queens of the Hellenes (Greece) since 1867, this exquisite Emerald and Diamond Parure includes an Emerald and Diamond tiara, a pair of Diamond and Emerald drop earrings, several loose Emerald pendants and a magnificent Diamond and Emerald brooch. Originating in Imperial Russia, it can still be seen at important Royal events today.
In 1867, King George I of the Hellenes married Grand Duchess Olga Constantinova, niece of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
As part of her wedding presents, the new Queen of Greece received a set of large, cabochon Emeralds. (I personally believe that these gemstones came from her aunt, Grand Duchess Anantasia Petrovna, wife of her uncle Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich)
Queen Olga wore her new Emeralds in a variety of combinations using them as earrings, pendants and attaching them to the traditional Russian headband (the Kokoshnik).
When she died in 1926, Olga’s will stated that the Emeralds were to be inherited by her eldest son, King Constantine. Sadly, Constantine had died before his mother in 1923 so the gemstones became the property of his eldest son, King George II.
In 1921, King George II had married Princess Elisabeth of Romania. As the new Queen of the Hellenes, the Emeralds were now hers to wear. She initially wore the Emeralds in a bandeau across her forehead before converting them into an upright design, with the Emeralds interspersed with diamond leaf motifs.
Finally, she asked the jeweller Cartier to create a Kokoshnik style tiara, similar to the one owned by her sister Queen Marie of Yugoslavia.
Using five of the larger Emeralds, Cartier created a solid tiara with Diamond ‘E’ motifs (for Elisabeth) supporting the Emeralds with a Diamond outline. The same ‘E’ design can also be seen on the Diamond and Emerald brooch and the earrings.
King George II and Queen Elisabeth divorced in 1935. The couple were childless so when George died in 1947, his younger brother Paul became the next King of Greece.
King Paul had married Princess Frederica of Hanover in 1938.
Frederica had far more options than her predecessors when it came to Tiaras. She inherited Queen Sophie’s Tiara from her mother in law and the Prussian Tiara was given to her on her wedding day. King Paul also purchased (or inherited) the Ruby Olive Wreath Parure.
This meant she could not only wear the Emerald tiara traditionally but also as a necklace, while pairing it with her other headpieces.
The current owner of the Emerald Parure is Queen Anne Marie. When she married King Constantine in 1964, her wedding presents included the Emerald and the Ruby Olive Wreath Parures.
To emphasise the importance of the Emerald Parure to the Greek Monarchy, Queen Anne Marie wore the set in full for her first official portraits.
King Constantine’s reign was, alas, short. After a failed counter coup against the Greek Military dictatorship in 1967, King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie were forced to flee Greece (The Greek monarchy was officially abolished on 1st June 1973).
Despite losing their throne, the Greek Royal Family managed to retain their jewellery and their standing within the international elite. As such, when Queen Anne Marie attended her father King Frederick IX 70th Birthday celebrations in 1969, she was still able to wear the Emeralds.
In 1971, the Shah of Iran invited the international royal community to Persepolis for the celebrations marking 2,500 years of the Persian Empire. As close friends of the Shah and Empress Farah, King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie were invited. As everyone would be wearing their best jewels, Queen Anne Marie remarked to Prince Michael of Greece that she was bringing the Emeralds because ‘they were the biggest’. (See below)
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 as well as Prince William’s Godfather. Queen Anne Marie chose to wear the Emerald Parure to her nephew Crown Prince Frederick’s wedding in 2004.
Over the years, Queen Anne Marie has been particularly creative when it comes to the pendants and the brooch arrangements, merging the Emeralds with the diamond necklace she inherited from her grandmother Queen Alexandrine.
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.