For their wedding, Prince Albert II commissioned a set of jewellery wedding presents for Charlene Wittstock, his Princess-to-be. Among these was a suite of jewels by Van Cleef and Arpels. It was termed the ‘Ocean’ suite, which consisted of a convertible tiara that transformed into a necklace, and a matching pair of dramatic earrings.
Charlotte White, head of design at Europe’s largest online diamond jeweller 77 Diamonds, spoke to Express.co.uk about the jewellery set.
Charlotte said: “Following her marriage to Prince Albert of Monaco, Charlene Wittstock was gifted an array of jewels, each custom-made and crafted by Van Cleef and Arpels who have a long-standing relationship with the Monegasque royals.
“Inspired by her days as an Olympic Swimmer, and aptly named the Ocean Tiara, (with matching Ocean Earrings), its clever design enables it to be worn as both a tiara and a necklace.
“The tiara itself features 1,200 stones, of which 850 are diamonds.
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“The mixture of diamonds and three complementary shades of sapphires help create a nautical effect.
“When together, they resemble the ripples of a wave, with 11 accompanying pear-cut diamonds representing individual beads of water.
“Yet to be worn to an official engagement in its tiara form, it has been spotted at the Red Cross Ball in 2011, as a necklace, and featured in touring exhibitions around the world.”
The Princess of Monaco also wore the earrings at the Rose Ball in 2014, after previously wearing them in Paris in 2012.
The necklace clearly shows the design elements of the suite: circular elements set with diamonds and sapphires, designed to mimic ocean waves.
The maritime theme honours Charlene, who was an Olympic swimmer.
Charlene has not worn the tiara in public yet, but she’s posed for pictures in the piece at least twice.
This included a portrait that hangs in the Van Cleef and Arpels store in Monte Carlo, and on the cover of Hola! magazine.
The Ocean Tiara was on display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, as a part of the ‘A Quest for Beauty: The Art Of Van Cleef & Arpels’ exhibition in October 2013.
Charlene and Albert married on July 1, 2011 and welcomed twins Gabriella and Jacques in 2014.
When Charlene married Prince Albert, it was assumed she would receive the jewellery which belonged to her predecessor, Princess Grace.
But instead of using his mother’s jewels, Albert instructed renowned jewellery houses to create a brand new suite of jewels for his new bride.
This way, Albert was honouring Charlene’s Olympic history and the jewels were uniquely made for his new wife.
Van Cleef and Arpels had been an official supplier to the Royal House of Grimaldi since 1956.
They even designed a Pearl Parure for Princess Grace, so there was some precedent in Albert’s choice of jeweller.
However, Charlene chose not to wear this specially made tiara for her wedding.
Instead, she chose a floral, diamond hairpiece from the collection of her new sister-in-law, Princess Caroline.