Empress Marie-Louise’s Topaz Parure

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Archduchess Rosemary of Austria-Tuscany, who died at the age of 97 on this day in 2001! A Princess of Salm-Salm who married a member of the Tuscan branch of the House of Habsburg and became the mother of thirteen illustriously married children, the Archduchess lived a long and eventful life, so the anniversary gives us the perfect opportunity to feature her historic Topaz Parure, which originates from Empress Marie Louise!

Made by the celebrated Nitot, the extensive Parure consisting of a Diadem set with 87 Topazes, a Necklace with 31 topazes, Earrings, a Comb, Belt, Bandelettes, and Bracelets, is set with large pink topazes but diamonds of relatively poor quality. The Topaz parure was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon as a 20th Birthday present for Empress Marie-Louise, who was depicted wearing the Parure in an Official Portrait. As personal property, the Parure was among the jewels taken with Empress Marie-Louise to Austria and later when she became the Duchess of Parma. After her death, her jewels were inherited by the Habsburg Royal Family, namely Archduke Karl Salvator of Austria, Prince of Tuscany.

While Empress Marie-Louise’s Diamond Scroll Tiara was inherited by Archduke Karl Salvator’s elder son, the Topaz Parure was inherited by the second son, Archduke Franz Salvator, who was married to Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria, the youngest child of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, who does not seem to have been pictured wearing the Parure. However, after their eldest son, Archduke Hubert Salvator married Princess Rosemary of Salm-Salm in 1926, she was frequently pictured wearing the Parure, including in a portrait early on in the 1930s.

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In 1953, Archduchess Rosemary loaned Empress Marie-Louise’s Topaz Parure to her elder daughter, Archduchess Agnes Christina, married to Prince Karl Alfred of Liechtenstein, when the couple represented Liechtenstein at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London. Ursula states that the Parure was worn by the younger daughter, Archduchess Valerie, now Margravine of Baden, but she was only 13 at the time.

Archduchess Rosemary was pictured wearing Empress Marie-Louise’s Topaz Parure numerous times through the 1960s and 1970s, most notably the Wedding Ball of Archduchess Valerie and the Margrave of Baden at Schloss Persenbeug, the Family Seat, in 1966. The Topaz Parure has not been publicly worn for a few decades but reportedly still belongs to the family, who remain quite wealthy. Lets hope it makes a reappearance soon.


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