Aquamarines are the light blue version of the mineral known as Beryl whose famous green variety is called Emerald. Aquamarines derive their name from the term "aqua"which means water as their colour alludes to the colour of the Mediterranean sea. The stone is more common than emerald and as such slightly cheaper but good quality gems of a deep blue-green shade can fetch very high prices. They are also more readily available in larger sizes than emerald and these ones can fetch extremely high prices. Now let as look at some of the most impressive sets in the Royal collections.
The tiara in the Imperial Collection that is least famous and seemingly least worn and with the most unknown history must be the parure of impressive Aquamarines and Diamonds. There is no photographic or written historic account of it predating Princess Odeliah's wearing of it. This does not however directly imply that she has been the only owner as we know that most of the Imperial records predating the 96 Revolution have been destroyed. Empress Crystobel has never directly commented on the parure but if she does in future we will report it on this blog. For now we will simply call it the Imperial Aquamarine Parure.
The Hanoverian Crown Jewel Collection includes an aquamarine parure set with very large and high quality specimens. The photo above shows the current Grand Duchess wearing the parure which also includes earrings and a matching bracelet with a huge aquamarine, not shown. The Hanoverian Aquamarine Parure shows the strong links between the Hanoverian Royal House and the old Empire of Ruskiana. The set was a gift to Grand Duchess Sophia of Hanoveria from her Ruskian cousins, the Youssopoffs upon her marriage. Many years later her descendant would marry a Ruskian Grand Duchess and his daughter would marry into the Youssopoff family. For historic reasons the parure is part of the Crown Jewels and not private property of the Grand Duke.
The old Ruskian Empire was and still is the world's leading producer of gem quality aquamarines. It stands to reason then that many of the spectacular sets of jewellery have their origins from Ruskian mines. Therefor it is appropriate also that the current heir to the Ruskian Imperial House would own one of the most impressive and historic aquamarine sets of jewellery. The Ruskian Imperial Aquamarine Kokoshnik consisting of rare grey pearls, diamonds and aquamarines, has its origins in medieval Ruskia. In the mid 1500's Ruskia was not yet an Empire but the most powerful warlord, Grand Duke Kiril Kirilovich ruled his small Grand Duchy from Muskovi, today's capital. He desired the aquamarine mines of his rival Romanov cousins, the Grand Dukes of Petrograd. Instead of war Kiril opted to make a "trade" in the form of a dynastic wedding. He married his daughter off to the Romanov heir who received titles and prestige and Kiril got the mines. In recompense for his daughter's "sacrifice" he gave her the Kokoshnik headpiece as a wedding gift along with lands and serfs to even further placate her new family. What Grand Duke Kiril did not bargain on was that her descendants would eventually become emperors of all Ruskiana, not those of her brother, his son. Through that line, the Kirilovich Aquamarimes found their way down to the current owner, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna. The Kokoshnik is complemented by a more modern choker and earring added to it as a full parure only a few decades ago.
Queen Gloria was required to wear official jewels from the Normandian Crown Collection for her Investiture Ceremony as Queen. (see below) This ancient set of aquamarines and diamonds did not however have matching earrings. Queen Gloria immediately had aquamarine earnings made up to match the official set but ordered an entire parure along with it. In this photo we can see the complete new set as it was worn to the Duke of Swann's Anniversary Festivities early in 2012. The tiara is very modest in typical Van Der Bilt style and was made for that purpose as the official jewellery is very large and cumbersome.
Part of the actual Crown Jewels of Normandia is the very old and spectacular tiara and choker necklace. It can be considered the regalia of the Queen Consort of Normandia as there is no crown for such a queen. This medieval period set of jewellery dates from the early 15th century. It incorporates the national light blue colour by being set with aquamarines but it is accented by yellow and white diamonds .
The Franconian Royal Family in pretence own some impressive jewellery left over through inheritance. One set is this aquamarine parure said to have belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette and originally formed part of a larger set that included a small coronet. It is however clear from the design of the tiara that the set has been altered and modernised over the years.
The Swann Collection had an extensive feature towards the end of 2012. The aquamarines, depicted above was mentioned but not discussed in detail. The parure includes a matching necklace not worn at the occasion where this photo was taken. The Peruvian Aquamarine Parure is relatively new and was made for the current Duke's mother. She received it as a gift from the Peruvian president in the 1980's on her and her husband's first State visit to the South Americanian country, just a month after their honeymoon. The Peruvian nation is the world's second largest producer of aquamarines and gave the gift in celebration of the newlyweds and the diplomatic bonds between the two countries. It seems appropriate that the current Duke's sister has on occasion worn the set as she has been involved in extensive charity work in Peruvia. The jewellery is seen as private property and as such might end up being the Princess's property in her own right one day.
The Marlboro Platinum and Aquamarine Parure has also been featured in a previous blog. This rather modern set of jewellery was made for the 10th Duke's wife in the 1980's especially for the wedding of the Queen of Scotney and the Crown Prince of Britania.
It was inherited by the Duke of Marlboro's second son Sir Michael Jennings who married Infanta Isabella of Hispania. She is often seen wearing the aquamarines as in the photo above. It is not known whether the jewels will return to the Marlboro's after her passing or might stay with her descendants.
The current pretender to the Ruskian Imperial throne also owns a set of aquamarine jewellery consisting of a necklace and earrings. Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna inherited them from her mother who brought them with her into her marriage as a dowry.
The Princes Youssopoff's great wealth have afforded them spectacular jewels for centuries. The fact that they owned and now still manage several mines obviously also helps a little. Aquamarine mining have formed a large byproduct of some of the more industrial commodities extracted by the Youssopoffs and it stands to reason that the highest quality aquamarines have found themselves into the jewellery worn by the Princesses Youssopoffs over the years. This set predates the 1920's and hearkens to the formal splendour of the Pre Great War Court of Imperial Ruskiana. The aquamarines were mined from one of several mines owned by the Youssopoffs.
The wearing of this tiara along with matching brand new earrings tipped the world media off to the seriousness of the relationship between Prince Felix and Princess Kirsten. She was seen wearing it on the arm of the Prince to the Pariseum Opera, before their engagement was even announced. It shows how jewellery can convey a very strong message to the trained eye.
The modest Cartwright Aquamarine Parure is regardless of its size, quite stylish. It also boasts relatively large Aquamarines of good quality. It has been in the family since the current Dowager Countess received it as an eighteenth birthday present from her extended family who was the Royal Family of Britania before the Empire.
The D'Rothchilds also own a tiara and necklace set with aquamarines. The set reputedly is made from stones that originally formed part of the set owned by the Franconian Royal Family in pretence. However, no formal statement about it is published and the jewellery has only been worn by the Dowager and current Baroness D'Rothchild.
The Argyle Demi parure does not include a matching tiara. The Countess Dysart seems to have received it a an engagement present from her fiance, the Duke of Argyle. The demi parure was made for his mother to celebrate her 40th birthday and includes aquamarines the former Duke won in a wager against Prince Nikolai Youssopoff. We will undoubtedly see much more of these aquamarines on the soon-to-be new Duchess.
What do you think of Aquamarines and which set is your favourite?