Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia’s Pearl Earrings

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Death of Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia, who passed away on this day in 1993! The posthumous daughter of King Alexander of Greece who became the last Queen of Yugoslavia despite never setting foot in the country, Queen Alexandra possessed few jewels, but the most prominent among them were these versatile Pearl Earrings! 

Yugoslavian Emerald Tiara | Girandole Earrings | Pearl Earrings

Each composed of a drop pearl suspended from an Art Deco diamond fitting, these Pearl Earrings were a 17th-Birthday present to the then Princess Alexandra from her mother, Princess Aspasia of Greece, which she described in her autobiography:  

Mummie gave me a double string of pearls, with pearl earrings to match, two jewelled bracelets, one in diamonds and one in sapphires, my first gold watch, my first fur coat–of nutria-and a very glamorous bed jacket.

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The Pearl Earrings continued to be prominently worn after her marriage to King Peter II of Yugoslavia in 1944, as both of them were in exile during the Second World War and were eventually unable to return to Yugoslavia. Queen Alexandra wore the earrings almost daily, having only her Diamond Girandole Earrings and another pair of pearl earrings with which she alternated, though these were photographed on several occasions. 

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After King Peter sold Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna’s Emerald Tiara and Parure, he bought a cabochon emerald suite from Van Cleef & Arpels, and whenever she wore it, Queen Alexandra added cabochon emeralds drops to the diamond fitting of her pearl earrings. She wrote:

Meanwhile, Peter, loath to think I had no valuable pieces, insisted on reinvesting some of the money in one fine emerald neck- lace to replace at least one part of the set.

He bought the new necklace, and matching earrings Van Cleef’s, a double row of Indian emeralds, each stone interspersed with a diamond. “You’re to keep these, he told me sombrely, “not only as jewels, but also as a security.”

Somehow I could not envisage ever having to use those emeralds as a security. And never in my wildest imaginings did I foresee the sad and desperate purpose to which, in the end, I would be driven to use them.

Later, King Peter was in even more financial difficulties when Queen Alexandra had to part with much of what was left of her jewels:

I gave him all the jewellery I possessed. A solitaire diamond ring, which I had valued much more than my engagement ring because he had chosen it for me himself when we had been so happy in our house at Egham, a diamond and pearl bracelet, two diamond clips from Boucheron, another bracelet of Victorian gold with eleven diamonds set in it, and a gold flower with a sapphire centre which he had bought me from Cartier’s, as well as several pairs of diamond and pearl earrings.

I kept only the treble row of cultured pearls and the new emeralds he had given me, the simple gold bracelet clipping with one pearl and one diamond which I had worn since childhood, when Amama had given it to me, and the diamond earrings which the Queen of England, Aunt Elizabeth, had given me as a wedding present, which later were stolen.

I never asked where or how he sold these things. I did not really want to know. But I did request him not to sell them to anyone we knew so that I, and indeed the purchasers too, would be spared the discomfort of knowing they were mine should they be worn at any gathering at which I might be present.

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However, the Pearl Earrings seem to also been among the jewels that Queen Alexandra retained, as they were worn with the ‘treble row of cultured pearls’ and a mystery Pearl Tiara for an official portrait, for the Wedding of Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria and Prince Karl of Leiningen in 1957, and continued to be photographed into the 1960s, after which Queen Alexandra was not publicly pictured. Since the Pearl Earrings have not been pictured on Crown Princess Katherine, it does appear that they too had been sold at some point.

Yugoslavian Emerald Tiara | Girandole Earrings | Pearl Earrings


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