Today marks the Anniversary of the Death of Queen Amélie of Portugal, who passed away on this day in 1951! The exiled Orléans Princess who married the Portuguese King, witnessed the assassination of her husband & son, & was then exiled for the remaining four decades of her life, Queen Amelie wore some spectacular Jewels, which included the Portuguese Crown Sapphires!
Being in the possession of the Portuguese Royal Family since the XVIII century, this set of pendants, comprising a large oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds and pair of pear-shaped sapphires with diamond caskets, could have belonged to Queen Maria Barbara of Spain, nee Infanta of Portugal, being part of the collection of jewels that was returned to her Portuguese family after her childless death in 1758. The trio of sapphire pendants were later in the possession of two Infantas who also had no children of their own: Infanta Maria Francisca Benedita and her niece, Infanta Isabel Maria. In 1879 they were bought by King Louis I and incorporated in the Crown Treasure, as revealed by recent research.
The King’s wife, Italian-born Queen Maria Pia had the two pear-shaped sapphires adapted into a pair of earrings and suspended the large oval pendant from a magnificent sapphire necklace that was already part of her personal collection.
When King Louis I passed away, his son, Carlos succeeded as the new King of Portugal. Following that occasion, Queen Maria Pia passed the Crown Jewels to the new Queen Consort. Amélie become the wearer of the historical Sapphire Pendants. As the Queen had no hears pierced, the sapphire drops were converted into pendants and, together with the large oval sapphire, were suspended from a Diamond Riviére. The necklace was often paired with another piece belonging to the Crown Jewels Collection, the Diamond Star Tiara.
After the fall of the Monarchy in 1910, the Sapphire Pendants and all the pieces that comprised the Crown Jewels were considered public property and were not taken by King Manuel II into exile. Nowadays, those pieces can be admired at the Royal Treasure Museum in Lisbon.
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!