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Van Cleef & Arpels created this convertible piece in 1956. The piece was created on direct commission by Princess Josephine Charlotte, then-Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. Josephine Charlotte supplied the jeweler with 2 pendants that were to be used to create the newly commissioned convertible tiara-necklace. The diamonds, emeralds and precious metals were harvested from a diamond and emerald pendant and another diamond and emerald pendant in the design of a cross. These jewels were inherited by Josephine Charlotte from her mother, Belgium's beloved Queen Astrid (nee Princess of Sweden). These pieces were given to Queen Astrid as wedding gifts by her mother, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden (nee Princess of Denmark). The new convertible piece created by Van Cleef & Arpels is most often given a name associated with the peacock because of the peacock-esque design created by the center motif.
The piece was a favorite of Josephine Charlotte and has also been worn by both of her daughters. During her lifetime Josephine Charlotte did not lend the jewels associated with her mother to anyone other than her daughters (including recreated pieces made from the original pieces). She was, however, contrary to popular belief, very generous with other jewels in her private collection. This was her prerogative since these were her personal and private possessions. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore the peacock convertible for the first time ever during the 2010 state visit to Portugal. Princess Tessy wore it as a tiara for the National Day gala in 2008.
Following the death of Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte, her children decided to auction many of her most historic and cherished jewels. The people of Luxembourg were incensed at the proposed auction of the private jewels of their late Grand Duchess. The auction was cancelled as a result of public outcry. However, before the auction was cancelled, while the jewels were on display at the auction house, Prince Jean of Luxembourg was noted to have said that his late mother had inherited most of Queen Astrid's emerald jewelry. He also noted that many of the pieces had been used to create new pieces (like the tiara-necklace). Although, this particular piece of jewelry was not included amongst the jewels to be auctioned.
Because the public auction of Josephine Charlotte's jewels was cancelled the people and press of Luxembourg didn't notice that nearly all of the jewels included in the original auction quietly still fell under the auction hammer. Grand Duke Henri took possession of several prominent pieces but the remainder (most of the jewels) were auctioned without fanfare and without the notice of the Luxembourgish press and people.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Luxembourg tiara series.
Source: Point de Vue, RJW, Getty Images Europe