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!

Tuesday’s Royal Trinket: Queen Mary’s Turquoise Ring

© Royal Collection Trust

At my other blog about books and writing, I introduced a series called Trinket Tuesday. It’s where I used to write about royal (and non-royal) jewelry. It’s the series that inspired me to create The Royal Archivist! I’ve moved most of those posts and images over here, but I’ve also decided to bring back Trinket Tuesday. (Let me know if you have any special requests!)

Today’s royal trinket is one of sentimental value. A gold ring with a turquoise surrounded by ten diamonds was given to Mary, Duchess of York by George, Duke of York to commemorate the first anniversary of their engagement day. The inside of the ring is inscribed May 3rd 1894. Very romantic!

The Luxembourg Empire Diamond Tiara

Image from Prince Michael’s book, Jewels of the Tsars: The Romanovs & Imperial Russia.

The Luxembourg Empire Diamond Tiara is massive! Fit for a very regal woman, indeed. The tiara, mounted in white gold, is completely bedecked in diamonds of every size. Unfortunately, I don’t have much information on the tiara’s history. According to Prince Michael of Greece, this grand tiara entered the grand ducal family of Luxembourg through Russian Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhailovna (granddaughter of jewelry connoisseur Maria Feodorovna) upon her marriage to Prince Adolphe of Nassau, the future Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Sadly, Grand Duchess Elizabeth passed away in 1845, just one year after her marriage. Prince Adolphe remarried in 1851 to Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau. Presumably the tiara was worn by his new wife and their descendants. However, this provenance may not be accurate as other sources believe the tiara entered the family many, many years earlier. I tend to side with other sources that the tiara is older than we think and that it entered the family long before Grand Duchess Elizabeth married Prince Adolphe.

Wikimedia Commons. Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg wearing the Luxembourg Empire Diamond Tiara.

Regardless of how this tiara entered the family, it can’t be denied that it is a grand tiara. So grand that it appears to be reserved for the use of the Grand Duchess. You may have already seen it worn by the current Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Maria Teresa.

If you know the provenance or have any information you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments!


Jewels of the Tsars: The Romanovs & Imperial Russia by Prince Michael of Greece

The George IV State Diadem

© Royal Collection Trust

Happy April 1st! We have a new month and a new gemstone to celebrate! April’s gemstone is diamond and in honor of diamonds, let’s take a peek at a famous diamond diadem.

The Royal Collection Trust refers to this tiara as the Diamond Diadem. These days it is worn by Queen Elizabeth II when she attends the State Opening of Parliament, but it was made in 1820 by Rundell & Bridge for George IV.

Wikimedia Commons. Queen Mary is wearing the Diamond Diadem. She is also wearing the Coronation Necklace.

This diadem is in the style of a crown and set in silver and gold. There are 1,333 sparkling diamonds to admire. Two narrow bands are completely set with pearls.

The diadem has four crosses; the center of one of the crosses is set with a four carat yellow diamond. There are also four sprays that represent the national emblems of the United Kingdom. Even though the diadem was made for a king, every queen and queen consort has worn it after George IV.

If the diadem looks vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because you might have seen it in portraits of Queen Victoria. You may have also seen this diadem worn by Elizabeth II on postage stamps and coins.


Royal Collection Trust

Another viewing of The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

© Royal Collection Trust

In this photograph, Queen Elizabeth II is wearing her grandmother’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

On February 26, 1952, just twenty days after Elizabeth II took the throne, photographer Dorothy Wilding snapped this photograph of the young queen. You probably recognize the tiara because this photograph is one of the iconic images that became the basis for her image on postage stamps. This was also one of the photographs sent to embassies around the world.


Royal Collection Trust

Update: Sold lots of the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma

Recently we chatted about Sotheby’s auction of the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma‘s collection. So for today, just for fun, let’s take a peek at a few of the sold jewels.

© Sotheby’s

This necklace, designed as a romantic garland of ivy leaves, set with cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, sold for £44,100. It’s a versatile necklace; the lucky buyer can also wear it as a tiara.

© Sotheby’s

I was keeping my eye on this gorgeous necklace of carved rubies, emeralds and sapphires. It’s in the famous Tutti Frutti style invented by Cartier (though this is not a necklace by Cartier). If money were no option, this is the bauble I would have purchased. It sold for £107,100.

© Sotheby’s

I also find this (possibly late 18th century) diamond brooch absolutely beautiful and would gladly wear it every day were it mine. It sold for £138,600.

© Sotheby’s

Queen Victoria’s enamel and diamond pendant that she commissioned in memory of her beloved daughter, Princess Alice, fetched £25,200. It’s quite a historic piece because it belonged to Queen Victoria and the pendant contains hair, probably Alice’s.

© Sotheby’s

And just for fun, this little Parisian diamond and ruby evening handbag in the style of a pig sold for a whopping £109,620. Presale it was estimated between £2,000 and £3,000. I am not certain if I’d wear a handbag in the shape of a pig, but I could be persuaded were you to offer me a pig studded with rubies and diamonds.

You can view the sold auction lots over at Sotheby’s. You can also view the auction catalog of the magnificent collection. The catalog includes Mountbatten family history and detailed family trees that may be of interest to you.

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

© Royal Collection Trust

One of the many tiaras in the jewel vault of Queen Elizabeth II is the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. You probably recognize it from some of the coins and banknotes. The queen enjoys wearing it often. Not only does it suit her well, but it’s also one of her lighter tiaras making it quite comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

There is also a sentimental reason why the queen favors this tiara.

The tiara was given to the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary) in 1893 upon the occasion of her marriage to the future King George V. The diamond jewel was paid for with funds raised by a committee of ladies, the “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland.” The committee was organized by Lady Eva Greville, who would go on to become Queen Mary’s lady-in-waiting.

The diamond tiara, made by Garrard, is in the shape of festoons and scrolls and sits on a diamond-studded band. At one point in time, the tiara used to be topped with pearls. It could also be worn as a necklace or reconfigured to be worn as a small crown.

Queen Mary loved this tiara and considered it one of her most prized possessions. In 1947, she gave the tiara as a wedding present to her beloved granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth. Supposedly, the queen still refers to this tiara as her “granny’s tiara.”


Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly


Royal Collection Trust

The Coronation Necklace

© Royal Collection Trust

I tell you, it’s a lucky lady indeed who gets to wear a necklace such as this. The Coronation Necklace was made by Garrard for Queen Victoria (along with the Coronation Earrings) after the loss of her jewels. The necklace’s diamond pendant, known as the Lahore Diamond, weighs 22.48 carats and was given to Queen Victoria in 1851.

Queen Elizabeth II wore the Coronation Necklace for her coronation in 1953 (and has worn it plenty of times since then). It was also worn at the coronations of Queen Consort Alexandra in 1902, Queen Consort Mary in 1911 and Queen Consort Elizabeth in 1937.


Royal Collection Trust

The Coronation Earrings

© Royal Collection Trust

The Coronation Earrings were worn by Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation in 1953. Since her coronation, the queen has worn the earrings at other important events. The earrings were also worn at the coronations of Queen Consort Mary in 1911 and Queen Consort Elizabeth in 1937.

The magnificent diamond earrings were originally made for Queen Victoria by Garrard. She had the earrings made because in 1857 a good chunk of her family’s jewels were sent to Hanover when Victoria lost a lawsuit about where the jewels belonged. Victoria must have loved the earrings as she wore them quite often.

You can spot the diamond earrings in Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee portrait from 1897.

Fun Fact: You can buy a replica of the earrings (made of crystal) at the Royal Collection Shop.


Royal Collection Trust