The Queen of Italy’s Most Beloved Pearl Necklace: 1883

Queen Margherita of Italy and some of her pearls.

Queen Margherita of Italy wearing a cataract of pearls.

The Queen of Italy’s Necklace.

Roman Letter to the Paris Figaro

Now, a word about the celebrated pearl necklace of the queen of Italy. It is a well-known fact that she wears it continually, and even on occasions of grand toilette she carries it under a river of sparkling diamonds. The necklace has a history:

Five years ago, the Prince of Naples, her son, heir apparent to the throne of Italy, was strolling through a street in Venice, when his eye was attracted by the necklace in the show window of a jeweller shop. The idea at once struck him to buy it for his mother, the queen. But the price was far beyond the capacity of his pocket money, and though destined to be King Victor Emanuel III., he was compelled to ask the jeweller for credit. The bargain was that the prince should buy the necklace, pearl by pearl, according as he could save enough from his pocket money. On leaving the jeweller shop on the first occasion the prince carried away with him five pearls, which he carefully guarded. It was two years before he was able to buy the whole necklace. When the queen afterward learned the secret of the purchase, she made a resolve to wear this charming exhibition of her son’s love on all occasions, and hence she wears it every day and gives it a place even when she wears her state jewels on great occasions.

St. Paul [MN] Daily Globe 3 November 1886: p. 7 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The Queen was Queen Margherita, wife of King Humbert (or Umberto) of Italy, who also had a habit of presenting his wife with one fine pearl every year in honour of her name, which means “pearl.”  (Or the more vulgar “daisy,” but one can scarcely find sentiment in hoarding a daisy a year until one has enough for a chain.) The Queen had a passion for jewels and the photographs of her wearing her many pearl necklaces are breathtaking.  The thoughtful young prince was the same person who witnessed the ghost of the poisoned princess in Naples. He was an only child who was very close to his mother.

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