The Duchess of Roxburghe’s Convertible Diamond Tiara

© Sotheby’s. The tiara sitting on the bandeau.

I love it when a tiara is a three-for-one!

The Duchess of Roxburghe’s convertible diamond tiara is composed of fleurs de lys and scroll motifs. Made in the late 19th century, the scrolls hold twenty pear-shaped diamonds. The tiara sits on a bandeau encrusted with cushion-shaped and rose cut diamonds. As the name (named by yours truly) suggests, the tiara is convertible! It can be worn as a bandeau and/or a necklace.

But who was the Duchess of Roxburghe?

© Sotheby’s. Mary at age 19.

The Duchess was born in 1915 as Mary Evelyn Hungerford Crewe-Milnes. Her father was British diplomat Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe. Named after her godmother, Queen Mary, it is no surprise that Mary became the owner of this spectacular diamond tiara. Her childhood must have been quite colorful because Mary’s parents often entertained Queen Mary and King George V. Plus, their neighbors were Lord and Lady Curzon!

© Sotheby’s. The tiara as a necklace.

Mary herself went on to play a role in the coronation of King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. She was one of the aristocratic ladies holding the new queen’s canopy during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

© Sotheby’s. A gorgeous close-up.

In 1935, Mary married George Victor Robert John Innes-Ker, 9th Duke of Roxburghe. But it was not to be a happy marriage. It ended in divorce in 1953, though not without some drama. Before the divorce was final, she simply refused to vacate her husband’s ancestral home, Floors Castle. Mary did eventually leave the castle, about six weeks later, and moved into a lovely flat in London, where she lived a happy and peaceful life until her death in 2014. As there were no children, Sotheby’s was tasked with auctioning off her estate.

In the spirit of the late Duchess, I hope the new owner wears this tiara often!

One thought on “The Duchess of Roxburghe’s Convertible Diamond Tiara

  1. Pingback: Duchess of Roxburghe’s Cartier Tiara | The Royal Archivist

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