Throughout Portuguese history, the remarkable Portuguese Crown Jewels were worn by the kings and queens of Portugal. Many pieces of the jewels have been lost and found over the centuries.
The jewels that can be seen today are from the reigns of King John VI “The Clement” and King Luis I. The jewels are rare and beautiful artifacts which feature only one crown. The crown is one of the most important pieces of the Portuguese jewels and belonged to John VI, who kept it near an image of the Virgin Mary who, for the king, was the real Queen of Portugal.
In early 1581, pieces of the Crown jewels were sold to Catherine de’ Medici by King Antonio I because he needed the support from France to reclaim his throne. The famous diamond Sancy was also sold by the king and today is part of the French Crown Jewels. He sold many of the remaining diamonds when he fell into poverty after the several failed attempts to reclaim his throne from Philip I.
Since 1640, when King John VI placed his crown with a statue of Mary and proclaiming her the Queen, the Portuguese monarchs did not have a coronation but instead an acclamation. The pattern for coronation that the king followed was similar to the coronation ceremonies of the kings of France and England.
The current crown that can be seen as part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels was made by the royal jewelers at the workshop of Antonio Gomes da Silva. This new set of jewels made for King John VI included the crown and scepter which is known as the Sceptre of the Armillary.
This scepter became the continental symbol of Portugal and Brazil and appeared on its flag. The Sceptre of the Dragon is the second important scepter from the Crown jewels, which was originally created for the acclamation and use of Queen Maria II in London.
Other important pieces of the Crown Jewels are the mantles of King John VI and King Luis I. According to tradition, the mantles were fashioned out of velvet, silk, ermine, wire rod, sequins, and various precious jewels. The most amazing pieces of the set are the Diadem and Necklace of the Stars.
The necklace is made of diamonds (colorless and pink) and sapphires and stands as one of the most unique pieces of jewelry in the world. It was commissioned in 1865 by Queen Consort Maria Pia of Savoy, wife of King Luis I.