The Incredible History of The Ruby Parure

Exactly 12 years ago, on May 11th 2004, did Mary wore the incredible ruby parure for the first time at a pre-wedding gala dinner at Christiansborg Palace. Only three days before she was about to marry the love of her life, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark whom she married on May 14th. Right since we have seen her wear the tiara and associated jewellery over and over again at several different events, gala dinners, new year receptions etc. After having read the wonderful book Eventyrlige Rubiner by Nina Hald and I thought it might be the right time for me to write a little more about the magnificent ruby parure which got this amazing history since the time of emperor Napoleon in 18th hundred. For so long I have looked forward to share this post with you but I had in mind that it would be so much fun to publish it on the exact date of its "premier, which is... today. Back to the book written by Nina Hald who works as a freelance journalist in eight different countries. She has a degree in Media Studies. From 2008, she is the author of eight books about diamonds, pearls, emeralds and gold. Eventyrlige Rubiner was published in 2012 and follows the work with the ruby parure that was done from 2010 to 2012 by goldsmith Marianne Dulong and her team of skilled goldsmiths. It was such an interesting book to read with stunning photos to look at while reading. Eventyrlige Rubiner tells the story of diamonds and rubies with a 212 year old history which is what I'm about to share with you. Enjoy!

A 212 year old history - from 1804 to 2016

What is most interesting about the ruby parure is its history. Most royal jewelleries have a history worth knowing about. I think it makes the piece even more marvelous, it's like the piece of jewellery become alive. The history of Mary's diamond and ruby tiara goes back to the time of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in the 18th hundred, to be more precise in 1804 when he was coronated as emperor of France. Queen Desiré of Sweden was the first to wear the tiara or maybe I should call it something else because at that time the tiara was 8 brooches later redesigned to become a diamond and then a tiara. Queen Desiré of Sweden was married to Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (also know as King Carl 14th of Sweden) and he was the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. The eight brooches is told to have been worn by Queen Desiré attending the coronation of Naoplean in 1804. It was then made to a diadem of most of the brooches as seen on Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. She was married to Christian X. of Denmark. It is very likely that no changes were made when it was owned by Queen Alexandrine because she did not wear jewellery that much. In 1935, when the swedish born Princess Ingrid, who later became Queen Ingrid of Denmark, married Frederik IX, she inherited the diadem and the rest of the brooches. She then chose to change the diadem once again to a tiara as we, more or less, know it today. Queen Ingrid is the one who did the ruby parure legendary. As the last one, Mary Elizabeth Donaldson married Frederik X. of Denmark in 2004 and is now the owner of the ruby parure.

The ruby tiara - a symbol of status

Back in February 2010; Crown Princess Mary, Søren Hedegaard (haridresser), Anja Aladji (stylist), Marianne Dulong (goldsmith) and her team met to discuss future changes of the ruby tiara which hasn't had a single change since the time of Queen Ingrid. Mary wanted Marianne Dulong and her team to do the changes because she was impressed by her previous work with among others her wedding earrings which Mary ordered herself. The restoration then began later in 2010 and was finished two years later in 2012, because Mary had a wish that she would like to do some changes to make it fit her head and personality better. Changing one's jewellery was and still is quite normal as no two women are alike -they have different taste and style, not to forget the changing time of society. Because the ruby parure is privately owned by Frederik and Mary they can make the changes they want and find suitable. Queen Ingrid was given the ruby tiara in 1935 as a wedding gift when she married the Danish Crown Prince Frederik IX. The last 30 years of her life she was a dowager queen and she only wore her private jewelleries -among others the ruby parure. This is the reason why we associate her with the parure today. Queen Ingrid had her diadem changed to a tiara made by A. Michelsen, Georg Jensen and Ole Lynggaard. All three famous and legendary Danish goldsmiths.

Apparently the tiara is in a really good quality. At the time the ruby tiara (the eight brooches) was made, many jewelleries were created by more than one goldsmith because the lack of time before the coronation. The reason for this is the fact that every women attending the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte needed new parures to wear. But the beautiful ruby tiara, brooches, was only made by one goldsmith, simply to get the best result. The tiara is made of diamonds, gold, silver, yellow gold and of course beautiful, red rubies. The leaves are made of silver covered with diamonds to the these to shine even more in the lights. The rubies covers gold to get the same shiny effect. The motive of leaves and red currant were both a classic motive to use in the 18th hundred. During 2010 to 2013, 13 leaves and 55 red berried were removed and later use for three new hair pins.

The ruby hair pins - back to the beginning

In 2012, it was Frederik who picked of the newly restored tiara and the rest of the ruby parure -bracelet, earrings and necklace- at Marianne Dulong's workshop. Afterwards the couple had a wish to add some hair pins to the parure. Now we know they were made of the removed leaves and red berries from the tiara. The design of these pins, made of 18k white gold, were created in collaboration with her hairdresser Søren Hedegaard and Mary herself. She approved the design before the three pins were made. Then today Mary had three stunning hair pins of diamonds and red rubies as leaves and currant, shaped to fit the shape of her head ready to create new beautiful hairstyles.

The ruby earrings - everything a girl need

Because of the significant design with the three separate pendants, this ape of earrings are categorized as girandole earrings. The style is still used today. Remember her diamond and aquamarine blue earrings? -also a pair of girandole earrings. Mary's ruby earrings have a similar design as earrings from 1800-1810. It was the absolute biggest trend in the 18th hundred, like multifunctional jewelleries as the earrings have become since Mary wore them the first time in 2004. Today they can be worn all sorts of ways, with or without pendants. Mary had one more wish; for her to be able to wear the earrings with pearls as well, something we have seen at several occasions. Therefor she chose four pair of pearl pendants: 1. a pair of freshwater pearls, 2. a pair of South Sea pearls and 3. two pairs of grey Tahitian pearls. And of course a pair of drop shaped Moonstone pendants. The earrings measures 8 cm in length.

The ruby necklace - created to cause a stir

In contrast to her tiara, it is suggested that at least two different people have been working on the necklace because it's not as beautifully done as the tiara. The reason is likely the same as with the tiara, because everybody were busy getting ready to the coronation in 1804. Hundreds of people were invited and all women attending ordered new jewelleries to wear that day. At the same time when the tiara was renovated, the necklace was too. Marianne Dulong and her team had to invent a new special lock system, so now the rosettes/pendants can be removed. Mary wanted the necklace to be a little more minimalistic. Now all small chains can be taken of because of this new lock system. As the earrings, the diamond and ruby necklace can be worn with a Tahitian pearl, Freshwater pearl and/or a South Sea pearl. With these pearls, and the fact that the chains can be removed, give Mary a million new ways to wear both earrings and necklace.

The ruby bracelet, ring and brooch - three pieces that makes an outfit complete

Even though the description of a parure includes a bracelet it was not a part of the parure from the beginning but are probably made at the time of Queen Ingrid of Denmark. Since Mary 'inherited' the ruby parure she has often been seen wearing the bracelet in a similar style as the necklace's pendants. In 2011 Mary had one more wish, which was to add a ring to the parure. Like the rest of the restoration, Marianne Dulong and her team were the for this job. Her ruby ring are designed to look like the bracelet and because of the rather big ruby, that is significantly bigger than the rubies in the bracelet, it may be quite heavy but as Nina Hald mentions in her book -only the owner knows. It took the team one work week to make the ring in 18k gold, with rubies and diamonds. Matching the style of the rest of the parure we have the brooch. A design seen in the 18th hundred as well. This brooch can also be worn with a Tahitian pearl and South Sea pearl. These pendant does also fit the necklace. Mary has been really creative wearing her brooch and I'm sure we will see her creativity again. Nothing else has been done with nor the bracelet or brooch.

Extra facts
  • There are no name stamps in the ruby parure which makes it really hard to know exactly when and by whom it was made. 
  • Restoring the parure, it was important to everyone to keep its history in mind.
  • The ruby parure's tiara's frame was created by Mary's wedding tiara's frame to get the best shape that fits her head. 
  • Parure means: A large jewellery set. A complete parure are a tiara, earrings, a necklace, bracelet and a ring - so now Mary has a complete parure. 
  • Mary has revised some of the old ways to wear her jewellery.
  • In the book Søren Hedegaard (her hairdresser) tells that he find his inspiration to Mary's hairstyles in old books and from previous princesses and queens. And of course hear what Mary wants. Among others, did Mary along with Søren Hedegaard decide that her hair should be loose the day before her wedding when she attended a concert in her red evening gown. He also tells that her hairdo's are always done so that the head line is free in the back of her head because it makes more space to the old jewellery. When Søren Hedegaard need to do a new hairdo to an event he is told what the event is and what she will wear, then he draws his ideas of a hairstyle to remember his vision. To him it’s important that there is a great balance between hairstyle and the tiara. 
  • Interested in where to buy Eventyrlige Rubiner by Nina Hald? It can be purchased here.

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