Queen Astrid’s Emeralds

Today marks the 85th Anniversary of the death of Queen Astrid of Belgium, who tragically passed away in a car crash on this day in 1935, while pregnant with her 4th child. To mark the anniversary, we are featuring an in-depth look at her varied collection of emerald jewels!

Emerald Necklace / Tiara

Featuring emeralds set into a diamond swag frame, the Emerald Necklace Tiara was acquired by Queen Astrid in the late 1920s, and often worn in the bandeau style of the time, most notably for the last time at the Wedding Gala of her cousin, Princess Ingrid of Sweden, to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in May 1935, just a few months before Queen Astrid’s tragic death.

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Afterwards, the Emerald Necklace Tiara was worn by King Leopold’s second wife, the Princess de Réthy, in the 1940s, and also as a Necklace in the early 1950s.

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In the mid-1950s, Queen Astrid’s only daughter, Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg, began wearing the Emerald Peacock Necklace/Tiara, made for her by Van Cleef & Arpels, using two emerald pendants that had belonged to her mother and, it is suspected, emeralds from Queen Astrid’s Emerald Necklace Tiara. The Tiara was a favourite of Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte and has been worn by Grand Duchess Maria Theresa, Princess Tessy, and Archduchess Marie Astrid.

Emerald Choker / Bracelet

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Queen Astrid wore a diamond bracelet with a central emerald choker, which was said to be a gift from King Leopold III, which was inherited by Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte, who wore it it quite rarely, and although it was included in the canceled auction of her jewels, the piece (worn as a choker) has been a favourite of Grand Duchess Maria Theresa, and has been often worn with the Chaumet Emerald Tiara.

Emerald and Diamond Earrings

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Queen Astrid also owned a pair of emerald and diamond earrings, worn since the 1920s, that made from a pair of earrings given as a wedding gift from her parents, which were also inherited by Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte and frequently worn by her, though they haven’t been publicly worn since her death in 2005.

Emerald Pendants

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Made using Emeralds from Queen Josefina’s Emerald Tiara, Queen Astrid received a couple of Emerald Pendants as a wedding gift from her parents, Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland, and Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, which she wore for many occasions and portraits, and which were inherited by her only daughter, Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg, and made into the Emerald Peacock Necklace/Tiara.

Emerald Brooch and Earrings

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January 8th 1930, the wedding of my grandparents Princess Marie José of Belgium and crown prince Umberto of Italy. Pictured here, my grandmother's brother King Leopold of Belgium (my mother's godfather) then crown prince with his wife the enchanting Princess Astrid of Sweden expecting their first son the future King Baudouin of Belgium, a man of such kindness, integrity and high mysticism that there is currently a procedure in Vatican to beatify him, the step before sainthood! Here they are waiting for my grandmother on her way to the altar with her father King Albert in the famous corridor of the Quirinal Palace known as la Manica Lunga that was 360 meters long (1080 feet) linking the family apartments to the State rooms. La Manica Lunga is the longest corridor of any building in the world to this very day, it was designed by Ferdinando Fuga. Five years later tragedy struck, King Leopold and Queen Astrid were driving in Switzerland in August when the car slipped and went off the road. The queen who was worshiped by her people was killed instantly leaving my great uncle inconsolable with his three children age 1, 5, and 7 and the country in shock! #chic #cool #belgium #noblesseoblige #queenmariejoseofitaly #kingumberto #kingleopold #reineastrid #avantisavoia #casasavoia #yugoslavroyalfamily #wwwprincedimitri #photooftheday #princessmariapia #royalty #royalwedding #glam #love

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Lilian Baels, Princess of Retie owned a suite of substantial cabochon emerald jewellery consisting out of a large brooch and drop earrings. The photo bottom left shows she already possessed them around the time of her marriage to King Leopold III of Belgium in 1941, a very controversial event. For this wedding, and I imagine for wearing such large stones, during the darkest hours of the Occupation, public opinion never forgave her. However, I doubt the monarchy would have survived if they hadn't had Lilian Baels as a scapegoat for all their wartime sibling rivalry and dubious politics. All through the 50s and 60s Princess Lilian wore the pieces frequently for evening occasions such as the wedding of Princess Joséphine Charlotte to the Grand Duke of Luxemburg and King Boudewijn's wedding. Queen Elisabeth, pictured with Lilian bottom right, wore the large drop emerald from the brooch, attached to her Cartier tiara for Princess Marie-José's wedding in 1930. This makes me believe Queen Elisabeth herself gave it to her daughter-in-law. Queen Elisabeth probably inherited the brooch from her mother-in-law, Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Countess of Flanders, mother of King Albert I. After Princess Lilian became a widow and broke all ties with Koning Boudewijn, she sold off some jewellery in 1988 at Christie's. (Including, again controversially, Queen Elisabeth's Cartier tiara which Princess Lilian often wore with the emeralds). If the emerald suite was amongst the items sold, I do not know, neither what became of them. #lilianbaels #emerald #brooch #cabochonemerald #royaljewels #greatjewelrycollectors #leopoldIII #magnificentjewels #vintagejewelry #koninginelisabeth #cartier #leuchtenbergtiara #christies #queenelisabethofbelgium #princessederethy #belgianhistory

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Queen Astrid also wore a huge Emerald Brooch, which was later worn by Princess Lilian with a pair of huge Emerald Earrings, both of which have an unknown provenance, and disappeared from public view in the 1960s.

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