Today marks the Anniversary of the birth of Queen Helen of Romania, who was born on this day in 1896. The Greek Princess who became the mother of the last King of Romania and was exiled many times from multiple countries, Queen Helen had some stunning jewels, and while we’ve already covered the Romanian Greek Key Tiara and her Fleur-de-Lys Brooch, today, we’re taking a look at the most illustrious piece in her collection, her Russian Sapphire Brooch.
Featuring a large pigeon-egg sized sapphire surrounded by diamonds, the sapphire originates from Empress Catherine the Great of Russia and was mounted by Bolin in 1845 for Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich, the second son of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and father of Queen Olga of Greece, who inherited the Brooch and left it to her granddaughter, then Crown Princess Helen of Romania in 1926, who had also received a pair of sapphire earrings and brooch originating from Grand Duchess Vladimir as a wedding present in 1921.
Queen Helen retained her Russian Sapphire Brooch through her numerous exiles and returns to Romania in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and was notably pictured wearing the Brooch at the Wedding of her cousin, Prince Phillip, to Queen Elizabeth II in 1947, and the Wedding of her only son, King Michael of Romania, and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1948, at the start of their final exile. The sister of King Paul of Greece, she was a frequent guest in Athens, and also wore the Brooch for the Wedding of her niece, Princess Sophia, to the future King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1962, King Paul’s 60th Birthday Banquet, the Greek Monarchy Centenary, and the Wedding of King Constantine of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark in 1964, which was the last public appearance of the Russian Sapphire Brooch.
By 1966, Queen Helen’s finances were strained, and while she managed to retain some jewels, like the Romanian Greek Key Tiara and her Fleur-de-Lys Brooch, she sold her Villa in Italy and some paintings she had smuggled out of Romania, as well as her Russian Sapphire Brooch, which was sold at Auction in October 1966. It’s current location is unknown.