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 the Joyas de Pasar today!
The Countess of Barcelona coined the term ‘Joyas de Pasar’ of the jewels passed on to her by Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain after the death of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, for the jewels to be worn by the Queen or the consort of the Head of the House. Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Will from 1963 specified:
The jewels that I received from King Alfonso XIII and from the Infanta Isabel herself, which are:
- A diadem of diamonds with three fleurs-de-lis
- The largest diamond Riviere
- The necklace with thirty-seven large pearls
- A diamond brooch from which hangs a pear-shaped pearl called “La Peregrina”
- A pair of earrings with a large diamond and diamonds all around
- Two identical diamond bracelets
- Four strands of large pearls
- A brooch with a large pale grey pearl surrounded by diamonds and from which a pear-shaped pearl hangs.
I would like, if possible, to award them to my son Don Juan, asking him to pass them on to my grandson Don Juan Carlos.
Some of these Jewels were worn by the Countess of Barcelona before passing on to Queen Sofia in the late 1970s, after the Count of Barcelona relinquished his position as the Head of the House. The Jewels passed on to Queen Letizia in 2014, who has worn all except two of the ‘Joyas de Pasar’. We are featuring the Spanish Fleur-de-Lys Tiara, Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings and Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Bracelets in detail, but this is intended to be an overview of the entire collection.
The grandest tiara collection, the Ansorena Fleur-de-Lys Tiara, also called “La Buena,” or “The Good One”, was a wedding gift to Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg by her groom, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, in 1906. Queen Victoria Eugenie wore the tiara on her wedding day, and at the most glittering royal events afterwards. It was worn by her daughter-in-law, the Countess of Barcelona, on a handful of occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, most notably for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Queen Sofia began to wear ‘La Buena’ in the 1980s and wore it for the most important State Visits and Banquets until the King’s Abdication in 2014, after which it was debuted by Queen Letizia in 2014, and has been worn for three State Banquets as well as Emperor Naruhito’s Enthronement Banquet, reflecting its position as the most important piece in the collection.
Another wedding gift King Alfonso XIII gave to Queen Victoria Eugenie in 1906 was a Diamond Rivière composed of 30 diamonds, which was lengthened with several diamonds every year until 1931, by when it had become a long chain and could also be worn in a configuration of two less longer chains or even in a group of three. Queen Victoria Eugenie divided the Rivieres into two and left the largest to the Joyas de Pasar and a shorter one to her former daughter-in-law, which was reportedly required by the Spanish Royal Family later. Queen Sofia wore the Rivière only a few times, and Queen Letizia debuted it at the Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan, wearing a shortened version, with the leftover diamond worn as a bracelet. The Rivière Necklace and Bracelet were also worn last year, for the Italian State Visit.
Another one of King Alfonso’s Wedding Gifts was a pair of Diamond Earrings which were further embellished in exile by adding a frame of diamonds. A favourite of Queen Victoria Eugenie, these Earrings were frequently worn by Queen Sofia, and have become favourites of Queen Letizia over the past few years, being worn for a variety of formal and informal occasions. Learn More.
Created by Queen Victoria Eugenie from a Crown she received as a Wedding Gift from the King, these Bulgaria Diamond Bracelets were rarely worn by Queen Sofia, but have also become favourites of Queen Letizia, who prefers to wear them stacked on one arm, adding a touch of heirloom sparkle to many outfits. Learn More.
Grey Pearl Brooch
Originating from Infanta Isabel, the Grey Pearl Brooch was often worn by Queen Victoria Eugenie, and is one of the rare jewels of the Joyas de Pasar worn by the Countess of Barcelona, Queen Sofia, and Queen Letizia, who has worn it on a couple of occasions, including Pascua Militar 2019, the Italian State Visit, and Pascua Militar 2022, when the Brooch dramatically fell during the ceremony.
A spectacular pearl necklace of 37 large pearls that is reportedly of Russian Origin, this was often worn by Queen Victoria Eugenie and has only been worn by Queen Letizia once, for a visit from the German President.
Four-stranded Pearl Necklace
The Joyas de Pasar also included a Four-stranded Pearl Necklace of large Pearls, which has not been worn publicly since the days of Queen Victoria Eugenie.
Diamond Brooch with ‘La Peregrina’
One of the most interesting pieces of the Joyas de Pasar is the Diamond Brooch with the ‘La Peregrina’ Pearl, a disputed provenance as the Spanish Royal Family has claimed that this is the original ‘La Peregrina’ and the one famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor was not original. Queen Sofia usually wore ‘La Peregrina’ as a Pendant from a Pearl Necklace.
Spanish Fleur-de-Lys Tiara | Prussian Diamond Tiara | Spanish Floral Tiara | Cartier Pearl Tiara | Queen Maria Christina’s Loop Tiara | Mellerio Shell Tiara | The Joyas de Pasar | Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Earrings | Queen Victoria Eugenie’s Diamond Bracelets | Spanish Royal Tiaras | Spanish Royal Jewels