Today I have a true gem for you (pun intended), the Leuchtenberg Sapphires, AKA the grandest parure in the Bernadotte Family Foundation (Jewels of the Swedish royal family). They came to Sweden with Josephine (1807-1876), the second Bernadotte Queen. You can read more about her Napoleonic ancestry in this post.
The parure consists of a tiara, a necklace, two hairpins, a brooch and a pair of earrings. The suit originally held four hairpins, and the earrings are not the originals. What happened to the missing pair is unknown, but it’s possible Queen Victoria of Sweden (see photo below) bequeathed the earrings to someone, since she never wore earrings herself. At least it was after her time that one pair of the hairpins was used to make new earrings.
Josephine inherited the parure from her mother, the Duchess of Leuchtenberg, in 1846, while her mother probably received them as a wedding gift from her parents-in-law Emperor Napoleon and Josephine de Beauharnais, in 1806. The parure is most likely by Nitot.
There is some dispute whether the sapphires on the tiara were once interchangeable with pearls. One portrait (below) indicates this, but poire shaped pearls are not to be found either in the records from the Duchess of Leuchtenberg or from Queen Josephine. It could just be a case of artistic freedom. On the other hand, a careful examination of the tiara in 2006 shows the sapphires are removable and could have been switched for, say pearls.
There are some poire shaped pearls accounted for in the possessions left by Oscar I, however. King Oscar I (born in Paris 1799, reign 1844-1859) was Josephine’s husband, and I mention this mostly to have a reason to post a picture of him. Enjoy!
It is fascinating how a parure from the Napleonic era is used and accessorised during different times with different styles.