Today marks the 110th Anniversary of the Birth of Emanuella de Dampierre y Ruspoli, Duchess of Segovia, who was born on this day in 1913! The Italian Aristocrat who married Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia, the second son of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, she received several spectacular Royal Heirlooms, including Queen Maria Cristina’s Sapphire Necklace!
When the marriage of Austrian Archduchess Maria Cristina to the widowed King Alfonso XII was announced, the Habsburg Family provided their relative with amazing wedding gifts. Among them, there was a delicate Diamond Bow Brooch to secure the Order of the Starry Cross, a Diamond Tiara, and some sapphire-set pieces, including a tiara given by the Emperor. Also, the soon-to-be Queen Maria Cristina of Spain received a stunning necklace comprising ten plaques centred by oval-cut sapphires bordered by rose-cut and antique-cut diamonds and connected by diamond links. This piece was made by the Austrian jeweller Biedermann around 1850.
Queen Maria Cristina can be seen wearing the necklace in some of early portraits taken upon her arrival in Spain. The Sapphire Necklace is a versatile piece, as it is possible to change the number of plaques, adjusting its length, and possibly convert it into bracelets. However, some photos suggest that the Queen also owned a pair of matching bracelets.
The Queen kept wearing the Sapphire Necklace throughout her life, including for some of the christenings of her many grandchildren. When she died, in 1929, it was inherited by her only son, King Alfonso XIII.
King Alfonso decided to present the Sapphire Necklace to her futer daughter-in-law, the Italian Aristocrat Emanuella de Dampierre y Ruspoli, when she wed his second son, Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia, in 1935. On the occasion of their marriage, the King also gave to Doña Emanuela a diamond riviere necklace, a white pearl necklace, a rock crystal, sapphire and diamond brooch, a black pearl necklace, and a Diamond Floral Tiara.
The new Duchess of Segovia was photographed wearing some of her wonderful wedding gifts, including the Floral Tiara and the Sapphire Necklace shortly before their wedding. It is assumed that, at a certain period of her life, the Duchess had to sell the necklace.
Since then, the piece has appeared for sale at Christie’s twice (1998 and 2013), as well as at an American antique dealer and at French dealer Martin Du Daffoy in 2014. Along the way, two extra sapphire and diamond plaques were added to it. Its current location is unknown.
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!