The Order of the Annunziata has only one class, i.e. Knight. The full Italian title is Cavaliere dell'Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata. Although the order has only one class, it has two sets of insignia, the Piccola Collana and the Grande Collana. The two hold similar designs, though the Grande Collana has some different features than the Piccola Collana and is worn only on the most special of occasions.
The first insignia was a goldplated silver collar with the motto, fert, inside a ring with three Savoy knots. The medallion of the collar portrays the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. The medallion is surrounded by three intertwined Savoyan knots, decorated with small crosses fleury, and in the upper center, between two of the Savoyan knots, a cluster of rays with a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, is depicted also in gold.
The Milites Collaris Sabaudiae were initially limited to fourteen, but that was later extended to fifteen by Amadeus VI, the first Grand Master, to honor the fifteen joys of the Virgin Mary. Formally, it was a dynastic order, meaning that it belonged to the heraldic patrimony of a royal house, whose sovereign, the lawful head, was the exclusive owner. Even in exile, a sovereign still continues to enjoy the jus collationis, i.e. the right to confer honors, a privilege that no authority can deprive him of, since it is a prerogative that belongs to him by right of blood.
The badge is suspended from a gold chain made up of fifteen ornate gold sections, each of which is linked by Savoyan knot. Each has the letters F.E.R.T. interwoven. The meaning of these letters have been of some controversy, to which a number of interpretations have been offered. The first states that the letters stand for Fortitudo Eius Rhodum Tulit (meaning "By his bravery he conquered Rhodes"), referring to the victory at Rhodes by Count Amadeus V in 1310.
Some have also suggested that the letters are actually the third person singular of the present indicative tense of the Latin verb ferre, which would indicate that the order is supported by the bond of faith sworn to the Virgin Mary. It has been noted that the letters FERT are already found on the tombs of members of the House of Savoy long before 1310 and suggested that they represent a local medieval variant of the Latin third person singular past tense meaning "he bore" (i.e., "Christ bore our sins/sufferings"). The letters may also stand for Foedere et Religione Tenemur (meaning "We are held by Pact and Religion"), a motto associated with Victor Amadeus I (1718-1730). It may also stand for Fortitudo Eius Republicam Tenet (meaning "His strength defends the State").
The star of the order, which was first used in 1680 by specifications of the Royal Lady Maria Giovana Battista, Duchess Regent of Savoy, is of gold and also has a representation of the Annunciation in a medallion in the center which is set within a gold cross of four pommels. This is surrounded by a cluster of gold rays. Between the arms of the cross of four pommels are the letters F.E.R.T.
The Grande Collana differs from the Piccola Collana in that the collar consists of fourteen ornate sections, each of which is made up of the letters F.E.R.T. in gold, intertwined with a white and red enameled Savoyan knot. The sections are interlinked with fourteen roses, alternately enameled red and white. The roses represent the mysteries in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The knots surrounding the medallion of the collar is enameled white, red, and blue.
Portrait of Philip Emmanuel of Savoy (1586-1605) attributed to Jan Kraeck, called Giovanni Caracca (active 1567-1607). The eldest son of Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy (1562-1630) and of the Infanta Catalina Micaela of Spain (1567-1597), is depicted here before his departure for Spain where he died aged 18. He is wearing the breastplate decorated with Sabaudian knots and the pendant Collar of the Santissima Annunziata.
The insignia of the order has the following regulations:
When the order is not worn, Knights may wear a gold miniature of the badge (medallion of the collar) of the order suspended from a red ribbon. They may also wear either a ribbon-bar (upon a uniform) or a rosette (upon a suit), both of which are red and have a miniature cross of four pommels engraved with the Annunciation