Queen Letizia of the Spain will be celebrating her 50th Birthday next week! Having access to the Spanish Jewellery collection, Queen Letizia has worn many pieces from sizeable personal collection of her mother-in-law, Queen Sofia, as well as a variety of heirloom jewels, so to mark her birthday, in a staggered coverage, we are featuring the most prominent of those Jewels, continuing with Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings!
When the King of Spain was set to marry Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg in 1906, a fine selection of jewels was executed by Ansorena, the Crown jewellers, incorporating some important family heirloom stones and designed according to the King’s personal taste and wishes. Among many, that splendid lot included a diamond rivière and a simple yet valuable pair of Diamond Solitaire Earrings, weighing around 10 carats each.
The new Queen of Spain first wore them during her wedding ceremony in San Jerónimo el Real in Madrid, an event marked by a tragic assassination attempt to the couple’s lives. The earrings also feature on the King and Queen’s first set of official photographs as married.
Queen Ena loved photography and to be photographed. For many of those portrait sessions, she selected her pair of Diamond Earrings. In some of them, they were paired with her splendid Emerald Parure, created using stones that the Queen inherited from her godmother, Empress Eugenie of the French.
These earrings will accompany the Queen throughout her life. However, they underwent several changes, as a result of the evolution of fashion. We understand that, in the 1920s, the two round-cut diamonds became part of a pair of long Art Deco-inspired adjustable earrings. Again, they feature on several of the Queen’s photographs and State portraits, frequently paired with her Cartier Diamond Bandeau.
Years later, the Queen commissioned a new and final change: a frame made up of twelve smaller round diamonds was set around each of the two solitaires, resulting in a sort of Button Earrings. This took place after the fall of the Spanish Monarchy in 1931 and subsequent exile of the Royal Family.
Despite being exiled, Queen Victoria Eugenie kept a very busy social life. For her rendezvous with her many European relatives and friends, she frequently opted for this pair of Diamond Earrings, as is the case of the Pre-Wedding Ball at Buckingham Palace and the Wedding Ceremony at Westminster Abbey of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 as well as the Wedding of Prince Henri, Count of Clermont, and Duchess Marie Therese of Wurttemberg in 1957.
In 1956, Queen Ena wore her Diamond Button Earrings for a set of famous photographs taken for Life Magazine inside Vieille Fountaine, her home in Lausanne, Switzerland. They were also worn at the important family events in the 1960s: Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sofia’s Wedding in Athens in 1962, and Infanta Pilar’s Wedding Ball in Estoril in 1967.
When the Queen End died, her last wishes established that these Diamond Earrings should became part of the set of “Joyas de Pasar”, a collection of jewels linked to the headship of the Borbon dynasty, consisting of several of her beloved wedding gifts. The lot of jewels was kept by the head of the family and pretender to the throne, Don Juan, Count of Barcelona though it seems that his wife, Doña Maria de las Mercedes was never photographed publicly wearing the Earrings.
Some years after the Proclamation of Don Juan Carlos as King of Spain in 1975, the Count and Countess of Barcelona passed on the “Joyas de Pasar” to their son and daughter-in-law. Since debuting the Diamond Earrings during a State Banquet in honour of French President François Mitterrand at the Royal Palace of Madrid in 1982, Queen Sofia has worn them for dozen of events throughout her husband’s reign mostly on formal occasions pairing it with the family’s tiaras.
Contrary to the unwritten norm that the Joyas de Pasar jewels are reserved for the Queen’s use, Queen Sofia has loaned the Diamond Earrings to her youngest daughter, Infanta Cristina, for her to wear them for her Wedding Ceremony in Barcelona in 1997.
Queen Sofia wore Queen Ena’s Earrings for the weddings of two future European monarchs: Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 2004 and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010, as well as Queen Sofia wearing the whole Joyas de Paras one last time for a Mexican State Visit just weeks before her husband’s Abdication.
After the Abdication of King Juan Carlos and the Proclamation of King Felipe VI in 2014, Queen Letizia is now the depositary of Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings. After debuting them in 2017, during the Argentinean State Visit to Spain, they have been worn quite frequently, including on the Spanish State Visit to Britain later that year.
Queen Ena’s Earrings are usually worn for very formal events, such as a Banquet held in honour of the Portuguese President at the Royal Palace of Madrid in 2018, during the Chinese State Visit to Spain in 2018, for a Banquet held during a State Visit to Morocco in 2019, and at Emperor Naruhito’s Enthronement Banquet in 2019 alongside less formal engagements, like the Order of the Garter Service in 2019, the Princess of Asturias’ Awards in 2021, and most recently at a Dinner for the participants of the 2022 Madrid Nato Summit. There is no doubt we’ll continue to see Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings for years to come!
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!