HM Queen Margherita of Italy, wife of King Umberto I and first Queen of Italy. Elder child of the Duke of Genova, younger brother of Vittorio Emanuel II (King of Sardinia and first King of Italy) and Princess Elizabeth of Saxony, she married the then Prince of Piemonte in Turin, on the 22nd April 1868. Her passion for jewels and especially for pearls was as well known as her glamour and her perfect taste. The jewels worn by the Queen will be described in the subsequent pages.
An extremely regal picture of Queen Margherita, who transformed the dull Italian Court in the most regal of Europe and the parties thrown by her became legend, such as the celebrations on the occasion of her Silver Wedding Anniversary and the 15th anniversary of King Umberto I’s reign, in 1893, attended by TIM The Emperor and Empress of Germany, HM The Queen of Portugal, TIH Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess Vladimir of Russia, HRH The Duke of York, among others many others.
HM King Umberto I, the second King of Italy, son of King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy, King of Sardinia and first King of Italy, and Queen Adelheid of Sardinia, born Archduchess of Austria. King Umberto became King of Italy on the death of his father, in 1878. He reigned until his own death, on the 29th July 1900, when he was assassinated in Monza.
Queen Margherita’s passion for pearls became legendary and she would rarely be seen without some pearls of her enormous and most exquisite collection. One of her necklaces, with 280 pearls, came from Queen Maria Adelheid of Sardinia, born Archduchess of Austria, the late wife of her father-in-law, King Vittorio Emanuele II. It had been bought in Prague by Maria Adelheid’s brother, Archduke Leopold. Another and even more impressive necklace was actually formed by several necklaces given in four years by her husband, King Umberto, and was fomed by 684 pearls!
In this picture, apart of the splendid pearls, the Queen wears the magnificent and most elegant diadem part of the Jewels of the Crown created by Royal Jeweller Musy in 1883. Commissioned by King Umberto, it was made with old diamonds and pearls from the Jewels of the Crown and with some of Queen Margherita’s own pearls. The diadem incorporates 541 diamonds, 11 pear-shaped pearls as spikes and 64 other pearls. The Queen also wears the two stunning diamond bracelets, totalling 1034 diamonds mounted in gold and silver, created by Musy on the occasion of the Royal Wedding in 1868.
A painting of Queen Margherita wearing some of pieces of the emerald and diamond parure, along with other diamonds and pearls. The emerald parure was actually formed by a diadem, a necklace, a brooch and earrings. The diadem, not worn on this picture, was later broken and the stones worn on other pieces. The parure had been mounted in Austrian jeweller Delsotto, jeweller of some members of the Imperial Family, and had been a wedding present of King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia to his daughter-in-law, Archduchess Maria Adelheid of Austria. The brooch of the parure is worn by the Queen on her hair, while on her dress lies a second diamond and emerald brooch, a Christmas present of King Umberto.
A rather charming picture of the Queen Mother of Italy, wearing another of her beautiful tiaras and many of her pearls, in the middle of superb black lace. Few days after the assassination of King Umberto, Queen Margherita passed all the Jewels of the Crown to the new Queen Elena, her daughter-in-law, wife of the new King Vittorio Emanuele III, but retained her personal collection, including several tiaras. Only a few months after her husband’s death, the new Queen Mother returned in splendour to Rome and her son installed her in a Palace, where she maintained a Court with more protocol than the one of the King, some say with as many protocol as the Papal Court at the Vatican.
Among those tiaras the Queen Mother retained was not yet this splendid example of the finest jewellery, a tiara of diamonds and pearls that can be mounted in eight different forms. It was commission by Queen Margherita herself on the occasion of the birth of her grandson Umberto, the new Prince of Piemonte, in 1904. Musy was once again in charge of the work, broking several of Queen Margherita’s jewels to create the new diadem, which was worn for the first time at the baptism of the Prince, at the Royal Palace of the Quirinale. On the death of Queen Margherita in 1926, the tiara was left to the Prince of Piemonte, who gave it to his wife on their wedding day. The Princess, later Queen Maria José, wore it most frequently and later passed it to Princess Marina of Naples.
Closeup of the magnificent diamond and pearl diadem created by Musy.