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.

Sweden’s Queen’s Crown

Alexis Daflos, The Royal Palaces.

Today’s crown is more unique than the other crowns we’ve looked at thus far. It has the usual orb and cross. But unlike the other crowns, Sweden’s Queen’s Crown is studded with 44 incredibly large diamonds. On November 26, 1751, King Adolf Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika were crowned at Stockholm Cathedral and this crown was made especially for Lovisa Ulrika’s crowning.

However, there is some drama involved with this crown. At one point, someone close to the queen replaced the diamonds with crystals and smuggled the diamonds out of Sweden and into the hands of an antiques dealer in Hamburg. Luckily (and to make a very long story short) the antiques dealer returned the diamonds to Sweden and they’ve been set in the crown ever since.

Queen Lovisa Ulrika portrayed by Swedish artist Lorens Pasch the Younger (1733–1805). © Nationalmuseum.

Let’s learn a little about Lovisa Ulrika. She was born in Berlin on July 24, 1720 to Frederick William I of Prussia and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. She was also the sister of Frederick the Great. In 1744 she married Adolf Fredrik and they had five children together. Only four reached adulthood, of which two became kings: Gustav III and Karl XIII.

Lovisa Ulrika was an enlightened person. She established the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, which to this day promotes the arts and sciences. She built theaters, patronized the arts and cultivated acquaintances with intellectuals. But she was also politically ambitious and attempted to influence politics through her husband. For example, she led an unsuccessful coup d’état to reduce parliament’s power and strengthen her husband’s position. After the king’s death she was sidelined by her son, Gustav III. She died in 1782.

Sources

The Royal Palaces

A Diamond and Feather Aigrette

© Sotheby’s

Today’s bejeweled headpiece is an aigrette. An aigrette is a less formal tiara consisting of white egret’s feather and usually accompanied by a spray of diamonds. They were quite popular in the 19th century with royals, aristocrats and heiresses. This particular aigrette was made circa 1900s. The spray, which is detachable to wear as a brooch, is set with circular-cut diamonds.

Wikimedia Commons. American heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean is wearing an aigrette with feathers and studded with diamonds. Also, do you recognize her necklace? It’s the Hope Diamond!

Though this piece was created for a woman, men wore aigrettes too. You may have noticed that aigrettes were placed in the turbans of Ottoman sultans.

We don’t see feathered aigrettes worn by royals these days. They fell out of favor between World War I and World War II. Perhaps their usage declined since it’s not very nice to kill birds for their feathers.

What do you say? Is this headpiece a yay or a nay?

Wedding Jewels of Maria Pavlovna the Younger

Wikimedia Commons

Above is a cropped photograph of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (also known as Maria Pavlovna the Younger) and Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland on their wedding day.

The Grand Duchess is wearing the traditional wedding jewels worn by all Romanov brides: the Russian Nuptial Crown, the Russian Nuptial Tiara with a rare pink diamond as its center stone, diamond earrings in the form of cherries and the collier d’esclave diamond necklace. Attached to her dress is Catherine the Great’s diamond mantle.

The Diamond known as “The Regent”

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

The cushion cut 140 carat diamond, known as The Regent, was discovered in India in 1698. The diamond was acquired by the French Regent, Philippe d’Orléans, in 1717 and has been on display at the Louvre since 1887.

According to the Louvre Museum:

Taking advantage of the economic prosperity that developed in France under the influence of John Law, Philippe d’Orléans, regent from 1715 to 1723, persuaded the Regency Council to purchase the diamond on 6 June 1717. At the time, The Regent outshone all known diamonds in the western world, and by 1719 it had already tripled in value. Today, it is still considered the finest diamond in the world; its color is “of the first water”, that is perfectly white and practically flawless. After the Regency, the gem remained one of the most precious of the Crown’s treasures and adorned all the crowned heads of France.

Louvre Museum

The Regent was worn for the first time by Louis XV at the reception of a Turkish embassy in 1721. It was then mounted temporarily on the king’s crown for his coronation ceremony on 25 October 1722. Shortly after his marriage to Maria Leczinska on 5 September 1725, Louis XV began wearing the diamond on his hat, a habit he continued throughout his reign. For the coronation of Louis XVI, on 11 June 1775, a new crown was made similar to that of Louis XV, featuring The Regent on the front. Like his grandfather, Louis XVI sported the gem on his hat. Stolen in 1792, then found again the following year hidden in some roof timbers, the diamond was used as security on several occasions by the Directoire and later the Consulat, before being permanently redeemed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801. The First Consul used it to embellish his sword, designed by the goldsmiths Odiot, Boutet and Nitot. In 1812 it appeared on the Emperor’s two-edged sword, the work of Nitot. Following changes in the ruling regime, the diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III, and finally on the Grecian diadem of Empress Eugénie*.

Louvre Museum

Sources

The Louvre Museum

*Painting of Empress Eugénie wearing the diadem with the Regent.