Tiara Thursday

© Sotheby’s

We have a tiara bonanza. You get three for the price of one! Let’s take a look, shall we!

The first tiara on our list is this lovely turquoise and diamond tiara. It’s designed as five palmettes, each centered around a large cabochon turquoise and set in yellow gold. The tiara is embellished throughout with circular-cut and rose-cut diamonds. The best part about this tiara? It’s convertible and can be worn as several brooches. Made in 1830.

© Sotheby’s

Next up is this lovely diamond tiara. Until this tiara was sold by Sotheby’s, it belonged to an American “philanthropist.” The diamond tiara was probably made in France in the early 20th century. It’s set with old European, old mine and rose-cut diamonds in a foliate design. Lovely. I’d wear it.

© Sotheby’s

Last but not least is this intriguing mystery tiara. Actually the style reminds me a little of Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden’s Ruby Tiara. The tiara is set on a flexible band which can be detached to form a necklace. We don’t know where or when it was made, but we have a clue because it came in a fitted box stamped Collingwood & Co. I will gladly wear it as a necklace!

Which tiara is your favorite?

Tiara Thursday: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara

© Royal Collection Trust

I am sure you recognize today’s tiara!

The all-diamond diadem belonged to Queen Alexandra. It was given to her as Princess of Wales for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1888. The gift was arranged by the “Ladies of Society,” a large group of British peeresses. Made by Garrard, the tiara’s shape is in the then-popular kokoshnik style, the traditional Russian headdress. Of course the tiara can also be worn as a necklace. Convertible tiaras were all the rage in the 19th century.

Honestly, I could stare at this kokoshnik tiara all day long. It is beyond spectacular!

Today it is owned and worn by Queen Elizabeth II.

Tiara Thursday: A Mystery Tiara

© Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara is a mystery!

We don’t know who the maker is or who may have worn it. Though the Victoria and Albert Museum believes the tiara was made in England, circa 1850. We do know, however, that this tiara imitates the wreaths of silver corn-ears Queen Victoria’s attendants wore at her coronation in 1838. This makes it almost certain the tiara was made in England.

© Victoria and Albert Museum

The mystery tiara is in the form of a wreath and the brilliant and rose-cut diamonds and pearls are set in silver and gold.

© Victoria and Albert Museum. A close up.

The tiara is very beautiful, almost like a work of art. I love pearls and diamonds together. But I don’t know how wearable this tiara might be; it just doesn’t look comfortable. Maybe it’s for the best that these days the tiara sits in a museum patiently waiting for visitors to admire it.

By the way, if you are in the mood to peruse through a jewelry collection and can’t get to the Victoria and Albert Museum, I highly recommend you view the collection online. There is a large collection of jewelry available with generous historical details.


Victoria and Albert Museum

Tiara Thursday: The Spencer Tiara

© Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer.

The Spencer family is one of the oldest aristocratic families in Britain. In fact, I once read somewhere that Lady Diana Spencer had more royalty in her lineage than Prince Charles. Naturally such an illustrious family would be in possession of a few tiaras. One of their tiaras is the Spencer Tiara made world-famous by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Though two pieces set towards the back of the tiara date to the late 18th century, the Spencer Tiara was made by Garrard in the 1930s. The tiara’s design motif features diamond foliage, flowers and a heart-shaped center. The tiara is mounted in gold and the diamonds are set in silver. The two older elements of the tiara were probably owned by Frances, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The heart-shaped design was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp as a wedding present in 1919. In 1937, Garrard created this tiara by combining the heart-shaped motif with the two older Spencer elements, plus by adding a few modern elements.

The late Princess of Wales wearing her family’s ancestral tiara.

While the tiara has elements that are very old, it is very much a 20th century tiara made famous in 1981 when Lady Diana Spencer wore it as her nuptial diadem.

Whenever I see this tiara I can’t help but think of our dear Diana and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s a beautiful diamond tiara which suited her very well. Today it’s owned by her brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer.


Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tiara Thursday: The Poltimore Tiara

Image taken from my copy of Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour.

The Poltimore Tiara was made in 1870 by Garrard for Lady Poltimore, the wife of the second Baron Poltimore and Treasurer to Queen Victoria’s household from 1872 to 1874. The tiara’s thousands of diamonds are set in silver and gold. The design mimics romantic clusters of diamonds and diamond-set scroll motifs. The diadem remained in the Poltimore family until it was sold at auction on January 29, 1959.

Wikimedia Commons. Lady Poltimore wearing the Poltimore Tiara. Circa 1890.

It was purchased for Princess Margaret upon the occasion of her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, which took place on May 6, 1960. According to Christie’s lot essay, “The tiara was purchased upon the recommendation of Lord Plunket, who was Deputy Master of the Household from 1954 to 1975. It was acquired in 1959 before the official announcement by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 26th February 1960 of the engagement of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret to Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones.”

Image via the BBC.

Princess Margaret wore the sparkling tiara as a necklace before her wedding. When worn as a necklace, it takes the shape of a fringe design. The fringe design showed off the diamond leaves and flowers splendidly. Margaret also wore pieces of the tiara as brooches; in fact eleven pieces of the tiara can be taken apart to wear as brooches. Margaret’s first public debut of the tiara was on her wedding day.

© Christie’s

The tiara is large, imposing and spectacular. It was the perfect diadem for the last of the English princesses born to a king in a bygone era. Princess Margaret was every inch a princess; she was demanding, a perfectionist, yearned to be admired, loved and respected. Margaret insisted on royal protocol; even her friends referred to her as “ma’am.” At the same time, her search for happiness and freedom outside of a gilded cage eluded her; scandals followed her throughout her adult life and she was unhappily married. She died in 2002 at the age of 71.

After Princess Margaret’s death, the Poltimore Tiara was sold by her children.


Christie’s Press Release

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Tiara Thursday: The Chaumet Lacis Tiara

© Chaumet

When Rebecca Bettarini marries her Russian Grand Duke (more about his imperial lineage here) later this year, she’ll be wearing the Lacis Tiara by Chaumet. The tiara, though understated, is quite spectacular. Hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds, set in white gold, are studded throughout the latticework. There are two center diamonds: one oval cut diamond weighing just over 5 carats and one pear-shaped diamond weighing 2.21 carats.

I can understand why Rebecca selected Maison Chaumet for her nuptial diadem. Before the Russian Revolution, Chaumet had a decades-long relationship with the Romanovs.

© Chaumet

In an interview with Point de Vue, Rebecca said Chaumet presented her with several tiaras. She knew almost immediately which tiara she wanted to wear. The Lacis Tiara reminded her of a kokoshnik, the traditional Russian headdress. Another plus for her is that the tiara has never been worn before (it’s a fairly recent creation).

But there is more to planning an imperial wedding than just choosing a tiara. As part of the wedding preparations Rebecca converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. She also changed her name to Victoria Romanovna. The wedding will take place in St. Petersburg on October 1, 2021.

Rebecca’s nuptial tiara is modern, light and airy; perfect for an evening of revelry and dancing. It’s difficult to judge this tiara as a wedding diadem without first seeing the wedding ensemble, but I trust she will look fabulous.

What do we say, yay or nay?

The Manchester Tiara

© The Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara belonged to an American woman who married into the British aristocracy. The Manchester Tiara was made by Cartier in 1903 for Consuelo, Dowager Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909). 

The heart-shaped scrolls give this tiara a very romantic feel, don’t you think? It’s set with thousands of rose-cut diamonds, most of them supplied by the Dowager Duchess herself. Mr. Cartier, when planning the tiara’s design, asked his designers do draw inspiration from the 18th century ironworks of Paris and Versailles. This was a fitting design inspiration because Consuelo spent the early years of her life in Paris.

The Dowager Duchess of Manchester was born Miss Consuelo Yznaga in 1853 in New York City. She was one of four children born to Cuban-born millionaire Antonio Yznaga del Valle and his American-born wife Ellen Maria Clement of New Orleans.

Even though the Yznagas were wealthy, the family was met with suspicion by the upper echelons of American society. On top of being classified as nouveau riche (new money) by the established families, the Yznagas had “foreign lineage” which made them less desirable to socialize with. (To put things in perspective, the Astors were old money.)

Wikimedia Commons. Consuelo, painted by John Singer Sargent.

Nevertheless, Consuelo grew up happy and loved by her parents. Because the Yznagas were shunned by America’s top families, they spent most of their time in Paris where they received a very warm welcome by Empress Eugénie and her circle. After the fall of the Second Empire, the Yznagas relocated to London.

Consuelo became one of the first “Dollar Princesses” when she married George Victor Drogo Montagu, the future 8th Duke of Manchester. His family was initially not pleased with the match. They had never met the bride before the engagement and could not comprehend having an American daughter-in-law. They even tried to stop the wedding from happening. However, the family was won over by Consuelo and the wedding took place in 1876 in New York City.

Though it was not a happy marriage (both had extramarital affairs), Consuelo paved the way for other Americans to marry into aristocratic families.

The Manchester Tiara, with its heart-shaped motif, was a fitting choice for a sentimental American woman who forged a place for herself within British society. Today the tiara belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


American Heiresses of the Gilded Age by Melissa Ziobro (The Great Courses)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

Queen Elizabeth of Belgium’s Scroll Tiara

© Maison Cartier

Today’s tiara, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium’s Diamond Scroll Tiara, was made by Cartier in Paris in 1910. The hundreds of diamonds are set in platinum and the scroll motif gives the hefty tiara a very romantic feel.

The scroll tiara was purchased by Queen Elizabeth of Belgium (1876-1965) and inherited by her son King Leopold III of Belgium. However, today the tiara is back in the ownership of Cartier.

Queen Soraya’s Diamond Star Tiara

Wikimedia Commons

Queen Soraya of Afghanistan (1899-1968), Afghanistan’s first Queen Consort, is photographed in her Diamond Star Tiara. Today Soraya is remembered for being a progressive royal. She was a vocal proponent of gender equality.

Sadly, the Afghan Civil War (1928-1929) drove Soraya and her husband, King Amanullah, into exile. They settled in Rome.

I do not have any additional information on this tiara. My guess is that it was made in the early 1920s. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any further details on Soraya’s tiara.