Take, for example, the case of Princess Letizia's new tiara. It's been reported as both a 5th anniversary gift from Felipe and as a gift from the jeweler, Ansorena. I suspect that ambiguity surrounding the tiara's origin suits the royal family just fine, because while accepting lavish gifts is dicey territory, so is the purchase of new jewelry when your country's economy is struggling.
|This, supposedly, is Letizia's new tiara (only the center fleur de lys has been worn, as a brooch)|
|Suspected and known new tiaras: a possible purchase for Rania, a wedding gift for Charlene, a converted necklace/stomacher originally from a Belgian royal for Elizabeth, a potential purchase for Sophie, and a wedding gift for Sarah|
|Potential gifts from Middle Eastern rulers: Queen Sofia's jewels, Queen Margrethe's necklace, Queen Silvia's set|
Different countries will have different policies on how official gifts are handled (if they become personal property, if they have to be declared, that sort of thing), but the unofficial rule for new jewels on the whole still applies: keep it quiet and be as vague as possible. Why? Because even though it's not commercially motivated, a gift can still be too lavish for today's public relations-run world. In other words: they make excellent fodder for scandal-inducing headlines. Queen Paola ended up in hot water after a visit to the Congo, a former Belgian colony, when she received a diamond demi-parure as a gift. She didn't ask for the present, surely, and who knows what the first lady of the Congo was thinking when she decided to give such a lavish gift to a former ruler while her country is struggling with plenty of issues of its own. Paola gave the gift over to the Belgian state (with the caveat that members of the royal family can still wear it) to dispense with the scandal. Still, one expects it will be quite some time before we see it in use.
Camilla made a particularly grand example of the kerfluffle official gifts can cause when she started using the fruits gained on one trip to Saudi Arabia early in her marriage.
|All of these necklaces (ruby, sapphire, and emerald) are from a single Saudi visit|
Such hassle! Poor royals, just trying to be magpies and getting diamond-blocked at every turn. This is why we can only dream that a royal family would buy a well-known auction piece - hoping that the Spanish royal family will reclaim La Peregrina, for example. It's a far-fetched hope that they would buy something like that, because they wouldn't want the headlines that would accompany the purchase. Even a magpie like me can't blame them for doing what they can to avoid the controversy. (I mean, I'll accept it, but I won't like it. Yes, I am pouting right now.)
And thus ends my looooong digression on jewel ownership and sharing - I hope that sheds some light on those questions about royal collections some of you have sent in (well, as much light as we can shed without getting into the minor details of every single jewel and every single royal family). As always, if you have any ideas for other topics you'd like covered, let me know.