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.
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?
Bentley & Skinner sold an early 20th century American diamond scroll tiara, circa 1900. The diamond tiara has three ribbon bow motifs and a garland running through the tiara. It’s encrusted with old-cut diamonds.
The tiara is stamped with the name of the firm Bailey, Banks and Biddle. Bailey, Banks and Biddle was an American company founded in 1832 in Philadelphia, PA. Perhaps a Dollar Princess brought it with her to the UK and eventually the tiara made its way to Bentley & Skinner? We may never know, but it’s a dreamy and beautiful tiara.
Today’s tiara is not of royal provenance, but it’s not any less beautiful. It was made around 1835 in England.
The gold-stamped tiara is set with large chrysoprase gemstones. What’s unique about this headpiece is that it’s made by machine, instead of by hand. British Historian Dame Joan Evans donated it, along with other jewelry, to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Though this tiara was likely mass-produced, I still find it very appealing and unique. What do you think?
In the image above, Barbara Hutton wears Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna’s emeralds set in a tiara.
The emeralds were once part of a sumptuous parure given to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna in 1874 as a wedding gift from her father-in-law, Tsar Alexander II. After her death, the parure was sold by her son Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia.
Unfortunately, the original parure is no longer intact. While pieces from the emerald parure come up at auction from time to time, many of the emeralds’ whereabouts are unknown.
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The tiara, in the shape of forget-me-nots and anemones, is set with oval and cushion-shaped sapphires and surrounded by circular-cut and cushion-shaped diamonds. The matching hair ornament can also be worn as a pendant. The set was sold by Sotheby’s in 2017 for $240,716.
Recently, Sotheby’s sold at their annual Royal & Noble auction a diamond brooch for £5,292.
The brooch is not marked by a specific jeweler, so it’s difficult to ascertain its maker or country of origin. However, it was listed as “Property of a Lady of Title” giving the diamond brooch an aristocratic, possibly even royal, provenance.
The total diamond weight is approximately 4.50 to 5.50 carats and was made circa 1800 or later. The brooch is designed in the shape of a flower and mounted en tremblant, which was the preferred jewelry style of that time period.
I think it’s stunning and I’d wear it in a heartbeat. I hope the lucky buyer enjoys it immensely.
I snapped a quick picture of this tiara a few years ago when I walked by Bentley & Skinner in London. (Apologies for the poor quality.) The diamond and pearl tiara has since been sold, but it dates to the late Victorian period and can be converted into a necklace.