Queen Sofia’s Shell Pendant

Happy Birthday to Queen Sofia of Spain, who turns 81 today! To mark her milestone birthday, we are taking a look at an old piece from the jewellery collection of the Greek Princess who became the first consort of the restored monarchy of modern Spain, her Pearl and Diamond Shell Pendant! 

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Featuring a single pearl in a diamond shell, the pendant first appeared on the young Princess Sophia of Greece around the time of her 16th Birthday in 1956, and it was probably given as a gift from her parents. Pendants were common gifts to young Princesses in the 1950s and 60s particularly before their 18th birthdays, when they started to wear Tiaras, with other examples including her sister, Princess Irene’s, Pendantsister-in-law, Queen Anne Marie’s, Aquamarine Pendant, or even her mother, Queen Frederica’s, Ruby Pendant, reflecting a particular trend in the Greek Royal Family, and other royal families, to wear pendants suspended from pearl necklaces, their most notable jewels for years. The provenance of the Pendant is unknown, but given its antique design, it is likely a Greek or Hanoverian Royal Heirloom.

Princess Sophia continued to regularly wear her Pearl and Diamond Shell Pendant in the 1950s and 1960s, often with her Prussian Diamond Tiara, and also for daytime events, until her wedding to Prince Juan Carlos of Spain in 1962, when she received many jewels as wedding gifts. One of the last appearences of the Shell Pendant was at the wedding of the Duke of Kent in 1961, after which the Pendant wasn’t seen for decades, despite her wearing pearl necklaces and pendants, usually Queen Frederica’s Ruby Pendant, quite often.

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In 2010, at the Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Queen Sofia wore her Pearl and Diamond Shell Pendant, with her Mellerio Shell Tiara, a rare choice as she has usually worn the Joyas de Pasar Pearl Pendant with the Tiara. With her granddaughters, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia, reaching adulthood, let’s hope we see the pendant on a new generation sometime soon.

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