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