Rubies have been sought out by rulers for eons. These red stones have long been associated with power and strength, often appearing on the heads, necks, and fingers of royalty. The nobles of Spain, Monaco, and the Netherlands are no exception, with each of these nations having at least one ruby tiara in its royal history.
A breathtaking tiara from continental Europe, the Niarchos Ruby Tiara, exhibits the finesse of rubies and a highly versatile design, featuring deep red oval shaped rubies set on diamond chains. Queen Sofia of Spain-- formerly Princess of Greece-- was given the Niarchos Ruby Tiara as a wedding gift by Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos in 1962, along with a pair of ruby earrings and multiple ruby necklaces. The ruby and diamond tiara was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels so that it could be worn with a single row of rubies or with one of its accompanying ruby necklaces attached as a second row. Sofia famously wore the Niarchos Tiara when her husband was declared Juan Carlos, King of Spain, and was more recently seen wearing the jewel in 2009 during a stately visit from Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France.
Not far from Spain, in the Principality of Monaco, the Ban de Mer Tiara resides. The tiara was owned by the famous Grace Kelly while she was princess of Monaco and was given to her as a gift by the Société des Bains de Mer, a powerful Monégasque company. The Bain de Mer Tiara was originally crafted by Cartier and features three large ruby cabochons set into detachable diamond flare motifs which can be worn as brooches, a necklace, or rest on the tiara’s thin diamond frame. The Princess loved the tiara and eventually acquired a pair of earrings and a ring to match it thought to have been purchased for the princess by her husband, Prince Rainier. Following Kelly’s death in 1982, the Tiara was held by the Grimaldi family, the royal household of Monaco and one of the largest stakeholders in the Société des Bains de Mer. No one has worn the full tiara since that time, but Kelly’s daughters Caroline and Stéphanie have been seen wearing the brooch elements. A replica of the tiara crafted by Catier to match the original was recently featured in the film Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman, however the Grimaldi family was not fond of the film and described it as “pure fiction”. Nevertheless, the Bain de Mer Tiara will forever be an iconic ruby crown.
The Mellerio Ruby Tiara is a resplendent treasure belonging to the Dutch crown. The tiara was originally owned by Queen Emma and had been made for her by French jeweller Mellerio dits Meller at the request of her husband King Willem III in 1889. The tiara features three ruby and diamond scroll motifs spaced with strings of diamonds. Eventually the tiara was joined by an extensive ruby parure featuring a necklace, bracelet, stomacher, brooch, earrings, and a fan. After Emma’s death, her ruby tiara parure was inherited by her daughter Queen Wilhelmina who then passed it on to her daughter Queen Juliana. The jewels were placed in the royal family’s foundation by Juliana so that other members of the royal family could wear them, but the Mellerio Tiara was reserved for use by Dutch queens. Since that time, the tiara has become a favourite of the reigning Queen Máxima, who has been seen wearing it for many public appearances.
Also residing in the Dutch tiara collection is the Peacock Ruby Tiara. Queen Wilhelmina had originally commissioned construction of the Peacock Ruby Tiara in 1897, and had the tiara set with rubies and diamonds that had once belonged to her father’s first wife, Queen Sofie. The Peacock Tiara is named for its resemblance to the colourful bird, as it features a swirling frame centred around an open fan motif evocative of a peacock’s tail, which can be separated from the frame to be worn as an aigrette. Over time, the tiara was joined by a matching brooch, bracelet, and earrings. While many other family jewels were placed in the care of the royal family’s foundation by Wilhelmina’s daughter Queen Juliana, including the Mellerio Ruby Tiara, the Peacock Tiara was passed directly from Wilhelmina to Juliana’s daughter, Princess Irene, who wore the diadem frequently until her divorce with Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma in 1981. The Peacock Tiara was unseen for many years until making an appearance on the head of Princess Máxima during a visit from the Royal Family of Sweden in 2009. Queen Beatrix has also since been seen wearing the tiara, and it remains an important treasure of the Dutch Royal Family.
The tiaras of these nations are fine pieces of ruby Jewellery, and will forever be known as great ruby diadems. European royals to the east of these nations have owned their fair share of ruby tiaras too. Read on to learn more about the ruby tiaras of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe in the final instalment of this series.
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