The brilliant set

 The brilliant set is part of the crown jewels.  

The brilliant set consists of a necklace, a brooch and a set of ear pendants. In its current form, the set was created in 1840 for Caroline Amalie (1796–1881), who wore it for her royal anointing ceremony that year. With inspiration from the diamond necklace given by Emperor Napoleon to his second consort, Empress Marie Louise, in 1811, the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne of Hanau in Hesse, Germany, created a necklace of brilliant-cut diamonds with far more carats than the French piece that inspired it.   

From ring to hairpin 

Many of the stones in the brilliant set came from the jewels that Queen Sophie Magdalene (1700–1770) left to the Danish crown in her will in 1746. This includes the large drop-shaped diamond pendeloque in the centre of the necklace, which was originally part of Queen Sophie Magdalene’s hairpin. The hairpin appears to have held special meaning for the Queen, as it was not just the most precious but also the first piece of jewellery to be listed in her will. Perhaps the Queen’s attachment to the hairpin was due to another large stone in the pin: a large brilliant-cut diamond that is now included in the string of brilliants in the necklace. Reportedly, this particular stone was originally set in a ring that Sophie Magdalene gave Crown Prince Christian (VI) at the couple’s wedding in Saxony in 1721. 

From hairpin to ring 

The large square brilliant in the middle of the necklace also belonged to Sophie Magdalene, who wore it in her hair or as a pendant on a necklace. In 1766, it was set in a ring that the newly married Christian VII gave to his English bride, Queen Caroline Mathilde (1751–1775), just 15 years of age and recently arrived from the British royal court. It is easy to imagine that the sheer size of the stone may have given her a sense of both the splendour and the gravity of the position that awaited her – a position she would later squander through her illicit affair with the court physician, Johann Friederich Struensee. In 1772, she was divorced from Christian VII and subsequently deported to Hannover. Her ring, with the large brilliant, was returned to the Danish crown. Two generations later, Caroline Amalie had the stone incorporated into the current brilliant set. 

The six other large brilliants in the necklace were also worn by Queen Caroline Mathilde. Originally, the six drop-shaped diamonds were set in a pair of earrings that she received as gift from Christian VII, along with the ring with the large brilliant, at their wedding in 1766. The other brilliants came from Queen Sophie Magdalene’s and Princess Charlotte Amalie’s jewellery collections. The brilliant set also includes a pair of ear pendants. The earrings are fastened with standard clips, but in order to distribute their weight and secure them better, each earring also has a brace that wraps around the ear.  

Sold and recreated  

The brilliant set includes a brooch shaped like a bouquet of flowers with leaves, entirely covered in brilliants. Several of the flowers have a yellow diamond at the centre. In another sophisticated detail, the largest flower is mounted on a spiral spring that vibrates when the brooch is worn. This maximises the play of light in the many brilliant-cut stones. The design of the brooch was inspired by a similar brooch created by Queen Sophie Magdalene, which Caroline Mathilde sold, with Struensee’s help, shortly after their affair had begun.  

With the design of the new brooch and the central placement of the large stone from Caroline Mathilde’s ring in the necklace, Caroline Amalie simultaneously made amends for past transgressions and gave a discreet nod to her grandparents – Caroline Mathilde and Struensee. 

The brilliant set during the reign of HM Queen Margrethe 

During her reign, HM Queen Margrethe often wore the brilliant set, or parts of it, on special occasions. For example, she wore the necklace, the earrings and the brooch for the wedding of the current Royal Couple at the Church of Our Lady in 2004.  


Photo Iben Kaufmann 


The rose-cut diamond set 

The mysterious crown jewel set  The rose-cut diamond set was long shrouded in mystery – how was this impressive jewellery set worn? Today, the set is described as a necklace and two brooches. It was created in 1840 by the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne of Hanau in Hesse, Germany, for Christian VIII’s consort, Queen Caroline Amalie (1796–1881).  Not a necklace   The rose-cut diamond set did not appear to be included on any of the preserved invoices from the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne, who created the set in its current form between 1840 and 1842. For decades, the set was regarded as a long necklace with a brooch, but eventually, it was linked to an invoice dated 29 March 1842 for a belt (‘gürtel’), which was the original intended use of the necklace. The rose-cut diamond set was designed to be worn around a corseted waist with the large pendant, previously viewed as a brooch, in the middle. The pendant can also be broken up, so that the individual pieces can be worn separately as smaller brooches.   Stitched onto the dress   Although the Danish queens continued to wear corsets as late as the time of the First World War in order to attain the fashionable hourglass figure, the belt was not designed to reach all the way around the waist. Tiny loops on the belt and at the ends of it suggest that it was stitched onto the dress. In Queen Caroline Amalie’s time, in addition to the narrow waist, fashionable dresses often included a long train. Fastened on the back, the train would cover this part of the waist, so the belt was only meant to decorate the front of the dress. Queen Lovisa (1851–1926) was aware that the set was intended as a belt, as illustrated by a large portrait that shows her wearing it around her waist. Queen Lovisa took great interest in the crown jewels and used loose pearls and precious stones to create additional pieces of jewellery for the collection. Today, these pieces are on display at the Amalienborg Museum.  Diamonds like rosebuds   Rose-cut diamonds have a special cut that makes the individual stones resemble rosebuds. Most of the stones originally belonged to Christian VI’s unmarried sister, Princess Charlotte Amalie (1706–1782). Like her sister-in-law Sophie Magdalene (1700–1770), she specified in her will that her brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds should be included in the crown jewels.  The rose-cut diamond set during the reign of HM Queen Margrethe  HM Queen Margrethe rarely wore the rose-cut diamond set during her reign. On a few occasions, HM Queen Margrethe wore the brooch, including at a gala performance at the Royal Danish Theatre celebrating her 50th birthday. The belt that is part of the rose-cut diamond set has not left the Treasury at Rosenborg since Queen Ingrid wore it as a necklace around 1950.  Photo Iben Kaufmann 

The emerald set

The emerald set is part of the crown jewels. A complete set with diadem The emerald set is the only set in the crown jewels to include a diadem. When the Empire style came into fashion around 1800, it became trendy to arrange precious stones by colour in lavish sets with a necklace, ear pendants, a brooch and a tiara. The emerald set follows this tradition with the added element of bows and sweeping forms that became the height of fashion with the Biedermeier style that was popular at the time. The set was created in 1840 at the initiative of Queen Caroline Amalie (1796–1881) by the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne of Hanau in Hesse, Germany. Maternity gift The emeralds have historically been worn together. More than a third of the green gemstones in the set can be traced back to an emerald necklace and a cross that Queen Sophie Magdalene (1700–1770) received in 1723 from her husband, then Crown Prince Christian (VI), to mark the birth of their first child, Frederik (V). Sophie Magdalene will have cherished the emerald necklace and the cross, and as a gift at the birth of a future king, it seems only natural that the emeralds were included in the crown jewels. Not originally intended as crown jewels Sophie Magdalene did not leave the brightly coloured stones to the crown when she drew up her last will and testament in 1746. In fact, this document makes no mention of the stones at all. The decision to include the emeralds in the crown jewels – perhaps the best-known of them all – was made after Sophie Magdalene’s death by Queen Juliane Marie (1729–1796). With this step, she made sure that the emeralds would remain together as a set. Coming alive in the light On a delicate gold frame, the brilliants are set in closed-back silver mounts, while the large emeralds are set in open mounts to allow the light to strike the stones from both sides. The effect of the open mounts is particularly striking for the drop-shaped emeralds in the diadem and the large earring pendants. As the stones capture and reflect the light, it brings out the full splendour of the dark green emeralds. Their deep, uniform colour adds to the beauty of this set, which is almost always worn as a whole. The brooch can be disassembled, and the individual parts worn separately. The emerald set during the reign of HM Queen Margrethe HM Queen Margrethe often wore the emerald set with green dresses that matched the colour of the stones. Among other occasions, she wore the set at the gala banquet for the Spanish Royal Couple’s visit in November 2023. Photo Iben Kaufmann

The pearl-ruby set 

The large pearls and the rubies – the oldest crown jewels  The pearl-ruby set consists of a pearl necklace, a large brooch with foliation, a pair of earrings and two clasps.   In its current form, the set was created in 1842 at the initiative of Queen Caroline Amalie (1796–1881) by the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne of Hanau in Hesse, Germany. On this occasion, the rather short string of pearls was made slightly longer with the addition of eight very small pearls. The combination of white pearls and deep-red rubies created a jewellery set in the style of the time, Rococo Revival, in colours that refer to the red-and-white Danish flag, the Dannebrog.  Rare pearls  The string of pearls in the pearl-ruby set is one of the oldest of the crown jewels. In early records, the pearl necklace was described as ‘house jewellery’. Probably, this means that the string of large pearls had long been in the possession of the Danish royal house as a precursor of the crown jewels before this collection was formally established. The large pearls can be traced back to the late 17th century with certainty. Portraits show Christian V’s consort, Queen Charlotte Amalie (1650–1714), wearing a choker of unusually large pearls. Perhaps, the pearls can be traced back even further, as a portrait shows Leonora Christina (1621–1698), a daughter of Christian IV and Kirsten Munk, wearing a similar string of large pearls. Although this is not conclusive proof, pearls of that size and regularity are very rare.   A new diamond cut   The brooch and earrings are set with brilliants, rubies and pearls. Queen Caroline Amalie provided the 17 rubies, which had previously belonged to Christian VI’s sister, Princess Charlotte Amalie (1706–1782). In addition, the set includes a large number of brilliants, a diamond cut developed around 1700 that maximises the reflection of light. In a practical detail, the brooch breaks down into smaller pieces that can be worn separately in a variety of ways.   The pearl-ruby set during the reign of HM Queen Margrethe  HM Queen Margrethe often wore the pearl-ruby set on special occasions, especially during the later years of her reign. For the 18th birthday of HRH Crown Prince Christian in 2023, HM Queen Margrethe wore the full set with one of the small clasps added to the front of the necklace. 

The Crown Jewels

The crown jewels   The Danish crown jewels are the result of the interest that generations of queens have taken in jewellery and precious stones. The story begins with a grieving widow.  The Danish crown jewels are living cultural heritage. Worn for generations by Danish queens, continually adapted to changing fashions and still in use to this day. They are the only crown jewels in the world that are both on display as museum exhibits – here at Rosenborg – and are also worn by the incumbent queen.   The collection was first established in 1746  The history of the crown jewels begins with Christian VI’s queen, Sophie Magdalene (1700–1770). When she was widowed in 1746, she expected that she would soon die of grief. She therefore wrote her last will and testament, in which she specified that her jewellery should not be given to a specific individual but should always be ‘with the crown’ to ensure that the members of the royal house would always have access to magnificent jewellery. In more recent times, the crown jewels have been at the exclusive disposal of the incumbent queen. Most of Queen Sophie Magdalene’s original pieces have been altered over time to keep up with changing fashions in jewellery design.   Redesigned during the 1840s  Today, four jewellery sets designated as crown jewels are kept at Rosenborg. The four sets – the emerald set, the pearl-ruby set, the brilliant set and the rose-cut diamond set – were all created in their current form at the initiative of Christian VIII’s consort, Queen Caroline Amalie (1796–1881) by the jewellery firm C.M. Weishaupt & Söhne of Hanau in Hesse, Germany, between 1840 and 1842. She had the collection of precious stones arranged into four new sets in accordance with the fashion that had become – and still remains – the norm for large jewellery sets since the reign of Emperor Napoleon around 1800.  Additional jewellery is included in the collection  Throughout history, some queens wore the crown jewels often, others hardly at all. Frederik VIII’s queen, Lovisa (1851–1926) took a great interest in the crown jewels. In 1910, she redefined which pieces are included in the collection. She also commissioned a travel case with three drawers to make it easier to move the collection when needed. In an expansion of the collection, Queen Lovisa added jewellery that had belonged to her predecessor, Queen Louise (1817–1898), and also had several new pieces made from loose pearls and precious stones from the collection at Rosenborg. Today, the jewellery added by Queen Lovisa is on display at the Amalienborg Museum.     Still in use today   According to custom, the crown jewels cannot leave the country and are only worn by the incumbent queen. During the reign of HM Queen Margrethe, the crown jewels were typically worn a few times a year. For example, HM Queen Margrethe would often wear crown jewels for the New Year’s Levees or in connection with state visits or other big events that called for full formal dress. In connection with the then Crown Prince Couple’s wedding in May 2004, no fewer than three sets were in use, as HM Queen Margrethe wore the pearl-ruby set, the emerald set and the brilliant set over the course of the celebrations.  After the recent succession of the throne, on 14 January 2024, the Danish crown jewels are now at the disposal of HM Queen Mary.