Happy Birthday to Infanta Elena of Spain, Duchess of Lugo, who turns 57 today! Despite being the eldest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, the Infanta has relatively few heirloom jewels in her procession, with a major exception being today’s piece, the Countess of Barcelona’s Pearl Bracelet, which serves a double purpose ahead of the 110th Anniversary of the Countess’ birth in just a few days.
The Pearl Bracelet, featuring large round pearls in two rows of diamonds, was part of the Wedding Gifts given to Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies when she married Infante Juan of Spain, the third son and heir of the exiled King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, in 1935, and was displayed with her corbeille de mariage. The Bracelet originates from King Alfonso’s aunt, Infanta Isabel (special thanks to Spanish Royal Jewels).
The Countess of Barcelona frequently paired the Pearl Bracelet with jewels like Queen Maria Christina’s Cartier Loop Tiara, her Pearl Brooch, Ruby Clip Brooch, and Pearl Bow Brooch throughout the 1950s and 1960s, also pairing it with the ‘La Buena’ Fleur-de-Lys Tiara for official portraits and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Countess frequently loaned her her Pearl Bracelet to her daughter-in-law, Queen Sofia of Spain, who wore it for many important events like her first State Visit to the Vatican in 1977 and the Wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia and Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia in 1976.
In 1995, the Countess of Barcelona gave her Pearl Bracelet as a Wedding Gift to her eldest granddaughter, Infanta Elena, when she married Don Jaime de Marichalar y Sáenz de Tejada in Seville, the Countess’ favourite city. Infanta Elena also wore the Bracelet at the Wedding of her cousin, Princess Alexia of Greece, in 1999, her brother, Crown Prince Felipe’s, Pre Wedding Dinner and the Wedding in 2004. While it has not been worn for years, let’s hope we see this heirloom jewel worn again soon!