SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Rare royal gems and a romantic gift feature in Spain’s royal pearls

The birthstone of June is the pearl and it’s been a favourite gem in royal collections for centuries. It stars in some of the best known pieces used by European ruling dynasties and in Spain it has a central part in some very famous jewels.

Asturias Fleur-de-Lys Tiara

Embed from Getty Images

Queen Letizia is reported to have received this tiara as a fifth anniversary present from her husband, King Felipe, but didn’t wear it in public until 2015 when she chose it for Queen Margrethe II’s 75th birthday celebrations. The main piece, a diamond fleur-de-lys, is detachable and was worn as a brooch on several occasions, though Letizia never wore the tiara element until her trip to Denmark. It hasn’t been seen in public since then.

The tiara is composed of 450 diamonds and features 10 large pearls set in 18-carat white gold.

Diamond Loop Tiara

Embed from Getty Images

The tiara was acquired by Queen Maria Christina in 1886 from the jeweller Francisco Marzo. Queen Victoria Eugenia — popularly known as Queen Ena — later owned the Diamond Loop Tiara, which featured diamonds in a scroll setting that highlighted the pearls. She passed it on to her daughter-in-law, the Countess of Barcelona, the mother of King Juan Carlos.

The tiara returned to the main Spanish line from the year 2000. Queen Sofía was its main wearer until recently when Queen Letizia also began using it for state occasions.

Mellerio Shell Tiara

Embed from Getty Images

One of the more fanciful tiaras in any royal collection, the Mellerio Shell Tiara was made in 1867 for a Spanish royal wedding and features drop pearls and diamonds on a diamond base that resembles shells. The tiara remained in the family and eventually ended up on Queen Sofía at her pre-wedding events in 1962 and became a favourite in the years to come.

Queen Ena’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara

Embed from Getty Images

Upon her marriage in 1906, Queen Ena received this tiara from her mother-in-law, Queen Maria Christina of Spain. In its original, versatile form commissioned by Ansorena, this diamond tiara featured an additional row of pearls at the top that could be switched out for other gems. Queen Ena had it refashioned in the 1920s by Cartier, who changed it to a diamond swirl tiara with eight large pearls at the centre of each swirl.

Then, the Spanish Royal Family went into exile in 1931, and Queen Ena ended up selling some of the jewels swapped with the pearls to raise funds for the family. After her death, she left the tiara to her daughter, Infanta Maria Christina, and it left the main royal branch.

When Infanta Maria Christina died in 1996, King Juan Carlos came into possession of the tiara again, though whether through inheritance or purchasing it from the family is unknown. Queen Sofía began wearing the tiara — and lent it out to Infanta Cristina on occasion — and Queen Letizia first wore it during the Portuguese state visit to Spain in 2018.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.