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Queen Máxima’s antique Dutch earrings

Image courtesy of Dekker Antiquairs

Since the end of May Queen Máxima of the Netherlands occasionally wears antique Dutch earrings that were once part of Dutch regional traditional dress. While the garments and accessories worn by farmers, fishermen and their wives now belong to folklore and can only be seen in museums or during traditional fairs, Queen Máxima brings new life to these jewels. They show the level of craftsmanship and the richness that belong so inherently to Dutch regional dress. Holland is a very small country, but the variety of regional dress was already noticed by foreigners a long time ago.

Queen Máxima’s choice for the location of the premiere of these earrings is not without reason: they come from Zeeland. To be more precise: from the Land of Cadzand in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, the most southern part of the province that is surrounded by Flanders. They were made and worn there around 1860.

Queen Máxima wears the earrings as ‘statement jewellery’. But in 1860 in Cadzand this was completely different. While Máxima chooses the earrings for a weekday visit to Middelburg, and for a work trip to India, the women of Cadzand would only wear these on Sundays, when they would go to church. And they didn’t wear them as statement jewellery, actually they were hardly visible because the traditional cap these ladies wore would cover most part of the earrings.

Another difference between now and then is striking. Despite the richness in design and craftmanship of the earrings, the farmers, fishermen and their wives weren’t affluent by definition. Food security was much less back then, and everyone worked very hard for their existence.

This also reflects in the design. There was no money for expensive gemstones, for example, so the goldsmith could only put in many many hours in working the gold. The result: filigrain that looks like golden lace, another status symbol from the past. This limitation in material brings out the creativity of the goldsmith.

Daily life is also reflected in the earrings: central in the design is the Cornucopia, the horn of plenty, that features so prominent in Dutch art. The three pendants below are shells, a design element that is found often in antique jewellery from the coastal regions.


Traditional dress of Cadzand
Queen Máxima wearing the ear rings
Back into the limelight

Already early in the 20th century traditional dress was in heavy decline in the Netherlands. Not many Dutchmen know and appreciate the beauty and quality of these jewels. By wearing these earrings, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands brings this stunning and also moving part of our heritage back into the limelight. And they look absolutely fantastic.

The earrings come from a collection of antique traditional jewels brought together in more than 30 years by a passionate collector. These jewels are now available for purchase at Dekker Antiquairs in Amsterdam. You can browse through the collection, which contains rings, brooches, bracelets and more, here.