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The jewels of a queen in waiting transformed by an historic consort

It’s one of the best known tiaras of a royal family but this regal sparkler only became a crowning glory almost two centuries after it was created.

Queen Silvia of Sweden is often seen in a regal purple tiara made of huge amethysts surrounded by diamonds but until she became consort, in 1976, these gems were a necklace and had a far from starring role in the royal jewellery collection.

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That was until Silvia took charge. The new queen of Sweden might not have been born royal but she soon showed herself to have a natural instinct for creating the most regal of gems. The amethyst necklace was the star of a demi parure that also included bracelets, earrings and one of those giant creations worn on the front of a dress known as either a devant de corsage or a stomacher. However, there was no tiara. Queen Silvia decided the stunning stones needed a makeover and came up with a cunning plan.

The striking necklace was transformed into a tiara that sits as a round circlet on the head of its wearer. It can also lay flat but it’s usually worn in its raised version. The jewellers tasked with the transformation were far from slapdash with the scraps left over from the change. An amethyst surrounded by diamonds that wasn’t needed for the diadem can be used as a brooch.

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Silvia, mindful of history, asked them to ensure that the gem could be changed back to its original form without any fuss.

It was quite a history to live up to. These amethysts were believed to have belonged to the Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon and an ancestress of Sweden’s royal House of Bernadotte. Josephine’s son, Eugene, had married Augusta of Bavaria and had gone on to have a daughter who he named after his mother. That Josephine married the future king of Sweden, Oscar, in 1823 and as part of her wedding celebrations, she was given the amethysts.

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From that moment onwards, they were Swedish royal jewels but remained a rather humdrum part of the collection until Silvia arrived. And once she’d switched up the sparkle, this tiara became a popular choice across her family. Both her daughters, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine, has worn it while her sisters in law have also been known to try on the tiara that Silvia made. It remains one of the most unusual looks in modern royal jewellery but it’s one that is filled with history as well as style.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.