Queen Isabella II’s Emerald Flower Tiara

Today, Sol Matossián y Márquez, a great-great-great granddaughter of King Alfonso XII and Queen Maria Cristina, is marrying Nicholas Green in a religious ceremony in Madrid. Sol is set to wear her maternal family’s bridal tiara, an Emerald and Diamond Floral Tiara, whose origins go back to Queen Isabella II.

Queen Isabela II was the owner of a legendary jewellery collection, undoubtedly one of the best of her time. Unfortunately, very few pieces have survived to this day, as a major part had to be sold during the Queen’s Parisian exile. Nevertheless, there are still a few examples of those past glories, such as today’s Emerald and Diamond Floral Tiara. Originally, the seven delicate diamond-set flowers centred by emeralds that made up the present tiara were meant to be worn as brooches. Photos of Queen Isabella wearing them are yet to be found.

In 1904, when the Queen died, a long and complicated process of division of her possessions and complying with the wishes set forth in her testament started. Her Majesty’s jewels ended up being divided in 4 lots to be given to Infanta Isabel, Infanta Paz, Infanta Eulalia and to the descendants of Alfonso XII, who had already passed away. But, prior to the partition, the heirs had the opportunity to select and purchase pieces from the late Queen’s collection that they really wanted to keep. King Alfonso XIII bought a pearl necklace and a pear-shaped pearl pendant, the ones that are part of today’s Joyas de Pasar, Infanta Isabel and Infanta Eulalia also bought some items, but it was Queen Maria Cristina who purchased more jewels. Among her purchases was a rectangular emerald brooch, and this set of seven diamond and emerald floral brooches.

It was Queen Maria Cristina who commissioned from Ansorena, the Spanish Crown Jewellers, a simple silver wire to mount the seven brooches as a tiara, where the central flower was placed higher than the others. Also, an accompanying set of jewels was created: a pair of bracelets, a necklace, a pendant brooch, and a pair of earrings.

This Emerald and Diamond Parure was given by the Queen to her youngest daughter, Infanta María Teresa, on the occasion of her marriage to her first cousin, Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria, Infanta Paz’s youngest son, in January 1906.

Infanta Maria Teresa wore her Emerald Parure on several Court events, namely the christenings of Infanta Beatriz in 1909 and of Infanta María Cristina in 1911. Unfortunately, the Infanta died of embolism in September 1912, at the early age of 29, while recovering from the birth of Infanta Maria del Pilar. The Emerald Parure was then inherited by her second son, Infante José Eugenio.

Don José Eugenio married Doña Maria de la Asunción Solange (Marisol) de Messía y Lesseps, a descendant of Empress Eugenie of France’s sister, in 1933. The Countess of Odiel wore the Emerald Floral Tiara on several occasions, notably at Infanta Pilar’s Debutante Ball in 1954 and Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sofia’s Pre-Wedding Ball in 1962.

In 1963, Doña Marisol loaned her Emerald Tiara to another descendant of King Alfonso XII and Queen Maria Cristina, Countess María Teresa Zamoyska, the only daughter of Infanta Isabel Alfonsa, on the occasion of her entrance in the Carmelites Convent in La Aldehuela in Madrid as a novice.  In this “habit taking” rite, the postulant dressed as a bride, with a white train dress, a bouquet, the Emerald Flower Tiara and a rosary. After the mass, she said goodbye to her family and friends and entered in the Convent through the main door to start her new life as an enclosed nun. This ceremony was attended by several family members, including now-King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, as well as Infanta Alicia.

The Emerald Tiara was also worn by her daughter, the always elegant Princess Maria Teresa (Tessa) of Bavaria, for the Wedding Ball of Infanta Pilar of Spain in Estoril in 1967. 

In 1992, Doña Sonia Márquez y de Baviera, the daughter of Princess Tessa of Bavaria, borrowed the family’s Emerald Tiara for her wedding to Don Miguel Matossian y Osorio.

Three years later, Princess Tessa’s other daughter,  Doña Myrta Márquez y de Baviera also wore the same Tiara for her wedding to Don Pedro Escudero y Aznar in 1995. It is Doña Sonia’s daughter, Sol Matossián y Márquez, who is set to wear Queen Isabella II’s Emerald Flower Tiara today!

As expected, Sol Matossián y Márquez wore Queen Isabella II’s Emerald Flower Tiara for her Wedding to Nicholas Green in November 2023.

This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!

4 thoughts on “Queen Isabella II’s Emerald Flower Tiara

  1. Lovely! Modern photos can really do justice to these wonderful gems. Sol was a beautiful bride. Thanks for the update.

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