Queen Sonja of Norway wears the Emerald Parure which is said to have originated with the Empress Josephine
(photo royalcourt.no/ Jorgen Gomneas)
May is all about emeralds. This stunning green stone isn't as well used as diamonds, sapphires, pearls or rubies in royal jewellery but when it stars, it really stars. There is no missing its deep colour or the way that light dances through and around it. As it's the birthstone of May, this month there will be a look at some of the most famous regal collections of this gem around right now. And it all starts with what is surely the stand out emerald set of modern royalty - the Norwegian Parure.
Not even the hair can detract from the wow factor of the Norwegian emeralds in this portrait
The tiara is easily the most recognised piece in this parure with its square emeralds and neo-classical design. The stand out stones are set atop rows of smaller, round emeralds and diamonds and the whole thing is mounted on gold and silver. This is a proper, old fashioned, blink and you will never miss it tiara that yells royal from every sparkling stone and it's rather marvellous for it.
The tiara is said to have once belonged to the Empress Josephine, that most romantic of royal women. It certainly belonged to her granddaughter, another Josephine, who was queen to Oscar I of Sweden and who rather liked jewels. Sweden's royals rather enjoyed wearing it and it ended up in the hands of Princess Ingeborg, wife of one of Oscar II's younger sons, Prince Carl. Their daughter married Olav, Crown Prince of Norway and the emeralds ended up in the jewellery box of Oslo's Royal Palace. And Norway's royals seem to enjoy wearing them just as much as Sweden's did.
Crown Princess Martha was often seen wearing them in portraits while her daughter, Princess Astrid, was partial to them as well. But it's Queen Sonja who has really made them her own - they are very much associated with Norway's consort now.
Queen Sonja wore the emeralds to the marriage of her son, Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, to Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby in August 2001 and no wonder. This was one of the most followed royal weddings in years with the eyes of the world on Norway. The country's queen brought out her very best bling for the event and no one was disappointed. In fact, they are a bit of a wedding to to for Sonja who also chose them for the marriage of Crown Princess Frederik of Denmark in 2004 as well as several state visits over the years.
The other pieces include a necklace made up of round emeralds with that pretty diamond surround featuring on the tiara and interlinked by more emeralds. There are also earrings featuring huge oval emeralds with diamonds clustered all around the drop shape and two brooches. It is a pretty impressive set all round.