A Queen’s Jewellery Box

There were a series of spectacular events originally scheduled to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark this month, and while most of the events have been rescheduled for late summer, the opening of the splendid exhibition ‘A Queen’s Jewelry Box/En Dronnings Smykkeskrin‘ at the Amalienborg Palace Museum has gone ahead after a week’s delay. The exhibition was one of the main reasons I had scheduled to go to Copenhagen for the Jubilee, and while I will likely go see it sometime in the summer, my Danish friend, Kasper Wiigh, has already paid a couple of visits, and much to my delight, agreed to share his experience with us!

The Danish Royal Jewels | The Jewels of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark | Queen Margrethe’s Golden Jubilee

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Since we have already covered almost all of the jewels mentioned in this article, click on the bold words to get to the detailed article on each jewel! 

It was with great anticipation and a huge excitement that I on the opening day visited this amazing exhibition at Amalienborg in Copenhagen. I received the book connected to this historic and once in a lifetime royal jewellery show last week. And it gave me the possibility to absorb all the information beforehand, since the opening of the exhibition was postponed one week due to covid-19.

But I have to say, the display of HM jewels is much better in real life. I was a little bit surprised because not everything on display is included in the book, which I find a bit weird. The state rooms on the 2. Floor is divine, and the light setting is dimmed with spots on the jewels and the exhibition itself is divided into 5 categories:

  • The inheritance from her father
  • The inheritance from her mother
  • Everyday jewellery
  • The Regent
  • The legacy for the next generation

There is text in Danish and English next to every piece on display. And you get a free audio guide where you point on certain spots and the queens voice reveals itself with personal anecdotes to some selected personal items. On show is her private jewelry and pieces that belongs to the family fideicommissa. A trust that was establish by her great-grandmother Queen Lovisa, so there will always be quite a unique collection for the present Queen to be blinged up and sparkled. So, no crown jewels on display here. They are still available to see in the vaults of Rosenborg Castle. Out of these 200 pieces on display, already 13 were out of the glass cabinet because they were in private use by Her Majesty. The second time I visited, there were 16 pieces out in use. So, yet another reason to go back soon!

And as a deeply enthusiastic fan of tiaras, let me tell you right away that 7 amazing pieces are on display: Pearl Poiré Tiara, the Floral Aigrette Tiara, the Baden Palmette Tiara, the Turquoise Daisy Bandeau Tiara, the Golden Poppies Tiara, the Nassut Tiara, and the Dagmar Diamond Floral Tiara. So, ALL 6 of Her Majesty’s private Tiaras, with the exception of the Emerald Parure Tiara in the Danish Crown Jewels at Rosenborg Castle, in one exhibition. Just amazing!

Of course, it starts with HM´s choice of jewellery on her first public appearance as queen on the balcony that cold January morning 1972. The Ruby Horseshoe Brooch and her Pearl and Diamond Wedding Earrings earrings gifted from late prince Henrik. (the earring was 1 of the 13 items out of office, and back again at second visit.) The rubies seem of a very high quality.

Then you enter the next rooms with among many items, the Turquoise Tiara, and the Daisy Brooch. I like to highlight the details in the old turquoise tiara and the quality and size of the stones in the pendent. The legacy says they come from Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. And of course, the amazing daisy brooch. The lightness, size, craftsmanship and quality… It just begs to be seen in real life. The 3 pearl bar brooch from her great-aunt Lady Patricia Ramsay is quite big and made by Garrards.

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The next room invites you to explore cabinets full of the more daily jewels like rings, necklaces, brooches, native dress objects, and the Golden Poppies Tiara. A big surprise to me was, that a choker I always just thought of bling bling is made of real gold, diamonds, and carved citrines. To see these fine pieces gives you a true access to enjoy the details and craftsmanship that you don’t see in the newspapers and glittering magazines.

And to see the brooches, some are much bigger and a few a little smaller than I anticipated from earlier pictures.

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Then you enter the big salon full of historic diamonds. It’s the true display of sunshine, on indeed need to bring their sunglasses here. You are welcomed by a cabinet with the palmette tiara and the flower tiara. WOW… The Baden Palmette Tiara is so fine, and it actually has 6 yellow diamonds close to the base between the palmettes. Its thin and elegant and very airy up close and has a comb connected from behind.

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Next you will be flabbergasted, I mean, HM’s Floral Aigrette Tiara is much bigger than I knew and full of details. The flowers are placed en tremblant which shows because of the old floor you’re walking on. The side branches are so elegant and light curvy. To see it one day on the original frame, is a new dream for me. The 3 parts are 18, 19 and 20 cm. long. King Frederik bought it for Queen Ingrid from the famous opera singer Lauritz Melchior, whose wife Maria Hacker wore it. The rumour says it once belonged to the king’s maternal grandmother…

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Now prepare yourself for some extremely nice historic pieces. In this cabinet you will see the famous antique family pieces that HM loves to use and play with. The incredible elegant bracelet in diamonds that she uses as a choker on a black velvet ribbon descent from her great granny Queen Lovisa’s mother Queen Louise of Sweden, gifted to her on her wedding from her father in law King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway. It can be separated into many small parts. And the two identical square diamond brooches, with a very elegant almost filigree work, its descents from great granny Queen Lovisa’s paternal grandmother Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway.

The big Diamond Riviere Necklace from 1759 has been in the family for 10 generations together with the diamond drop earrings, they descents from Princess Anna of Orange, and they have such a natural sparkle. The chandelier like earrings were bought at the auction of Hereditary Princess Caroline’s jewels in 1881, bought by Queen Lovisa together with the bow brooch and the long ivy leaf pendant. These 3 pieces are so full of sparkle and glory. If only they could tell their history. Luckily, we can follow their travel through the generations via paintings and pictures.

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Last cabinet in this big salon is showing us HM yet another, but modern turquoise collection and her pearl and ruby demi parure. All but a necklace which is from Turkey, are made by the danish goldsmith Torben Hardenberg. Gifted to HM by her late husband in love and affection for their silver wedding and other grand occasions. The size of these turquoises is unbelievable. And the craftsmanship, the shapes and the story telling in all those details of the brooch/pendant and the earrings is just amazingly expressed in pure gold.

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What first attracts your attention in the pearl and ruby 3 string necklace demi parure is the deep intense oxblood colour of the rubies. They are mesmerizing. The pearls are of a normal size and lustre and intervened with yet another example of this goldsmiths’ adventures thinking in gold. The front can be separated and worn as a brooch, and it also comes with earrings. These are truly personal love gifts.

The room also display some of HM beautiful pearl necklaces in different shades but with a warm and intriguing lustre. A grey one with south sea cultured pearls that she received from her two sisters at her 75th birthday and the multi-functional string with 80 pearls in different sizes and diamonds she received at her 80th birthday from the Craftsmen’s association and 26 Copenhagen guilds. And a 3 string with gold and 3 emeralds from Boucheron gifted from her mother. But also, her 4 strings with graduated pearls and an amethyst lock with brilliants. A very personal gift from prince Henri for her 40 years birthday symbolizing her 4 decades. HM brilliant and enamel brooch she is wearing for funerals is also in this cabinet. It is made as a commemorate brooch of her maternal grandmother princess Louise of Prussia.

In the Grand Salon of this mansion, you will see an amazing array of some of the Queen’s 45 most important orders from around the world with their colourful sashes.

But also, on display here is the heavenly deep blue sapphire demi parure. Yet another WOW… HM parents had the necklace shortened, but you see all the elements and a fitting for a brooch to. So, if she desires on night to prolong it, she can do it. The design is very simple, and the quality of these stones are unbelievable I tell you. They simply just attract you. I love the details of the spare parts on display. Also, we see the Devonshire turquoise and four-diamond brooch from HM’s Swedish grandmother. It has a very nice size.

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We also see the beautifully crafted Nassut Tiara in pure gold. One can argue the colour when it decorates itself in the queen’s hairdo, but you can’t complain on the detailed craftsmanship. HM had part in the design with goldsmith Nicolai Appel. It was a 40-year anniversary gift as Queen of Denmark that she received from the people of Greenland and made of gold from deep within this world’s biggest island.

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Before leaving for the Grand salon, you are greeted by the put together Pearl Poire garniture. I mean, that tiara and the details is made almost 200 years ago… Just amazing. The basic design of the necklace is in my opinion like the sapphire demi parure. One must say that the precious stones and the perfectly white shiny lustere of all those pearls speaks for them self. (they seem yellowish on photo) Just the story itself and the years between the parts are amazing all together.

Now for the last salon, it reveals what HM so far has passed on as gift to her daughter in laws and grandchild Princess Isabella. We see the beautiful light blue Connaught sapphire brooch that the crown princess received when she gave birth to their firstborn. And the pink pearl and diamond brooch Isabella got for her baptism that descents from great great granny Queen Alexandrine. And, a very small Faberge egg in gold with brilliants and sapphires.

Now for the most perfect flower tiara that now belongs to princess Marie. it is in all senses the most beautiful and creatively fulfilled smaller flower tiara I have seen. Not to compere with HM’s flower tiara, this just really suits a princess. And the travel through the branches of the family and the history that it tells is so lovely.   

As a funny detail, on the first floor where the Faberge room is situated, one could see that the Russian Sapphire Tiara that formerly belonged to HM’s cousin Count Christian of Rosenborg, that was generously lent on display from the anonymous new owner, was no longer on display. But now on its place was the Diamond Fringe Tiara that belongs to his brother, Count Ingolf of Rosenborg. With the agreement, that his wife Countess Sussie can use it when needed…

Overall a truly amazing exhibition with so much history, craftsmanship and carats all just for your eyes to enjoy. I feel so privileged to have the chance to go and see this in my little Queendom of Denmark.

Please, feel free to ask any questions!

Best regards,

Kasper Wiigh

@kallespalace | @kalles_bijoux 

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The Danish Royal Jewels | The Jewels of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark | Queen Margrethe’s Golden Jubilee

The copyright for most images in this article belong to Kasper Wiigh, they may not be used or reproduced without his explicit permission.

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