Crowns are a symbol of absolute power. Therefore it makes sense that Denmark, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, has crowns dating all the way back to the 1500s.
The Crown of Christian V dates back to 1671. It was used by Christian V (1646-1699) and worn by all successive kings up until Christian VIII (1786–1848). After Christian VIII, the crown was no longer used for coronations or anointments because in 1849 Denmark adopted a constitutional monarchy. Being crowned or anointed wasn’t appropriate since Danish kings had limited powers and the public probably didn’t like the “anointed by God” explanation (just my guess!).
“Its rounded braces create a closed form inspired by the crown of the French king, Louis XIV, and symbolise the ruler’s absolute power. The crown’s braces meet at the top in a globe, or orb, which is a sign of power and dignity for monarchs. On top of the crown’s globe is a little cross, which in the symbolic language of the time showed that only the church stood above The Crown.” – The Danish Monarchy (You can understand why constitutional monarchs no longer wear crowns!!)
The crown was created by German goldsmith Paul Kurtz in Copenhagen. It’s made of gold and decorated with stones and enamel pieces. The crown holds a red velvet cap. You’ve probably seen the crown’s image in the Danish coat of arms.
One of the largest pink diamonds in the world is the Noor-ul-Ain diamond. It weighs around 60 carats (!!) and came from a mine in India. It was looted from India by a Persian king during the 18th century.
Fast forward a couple of centuries and Mr. Harry Winston enters the picture. He (or at least his jewelers) set the pink diamond in a tiara in 1958. The tiara boasts over 300 sparkling diamonds. As you can see from the picture above, the pink diamond is set in the center and is surrounded by pink, yellow and white diamonds; all set in platinum.
Farah Diba wore it as her wedding tiara when she married the last Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in 1959.
As you know, the Shah was overthrown in 1979. The family fled Iran and began a new life in exile. Most, if not all, of the crown jewels stayed behind. This tiara, and other imperial jewels, are housed in the Central Bank of Iran.
The Shah died not long after going into exile. The last Empress of Iran divides her time between the USA and Paris. Her eldest son, the would-be shah, lives in Maryland, USA with his wife and daughters.
What do we think of this tiara? I think it was a perfect tiara for a young empress of a long ago empire. It’s probably for the best that it’s in a museum today. The tiara seems more museum-piece than headpiece. But that’s probably just me.
Prince Francis of Teck proposed to Princess Mary Adelaide with a gold ring. The ring is set with five table-cut rectangular Burmese rubies and twelve diamonds. The engagement ring, with its open setting, is very much traditional looking and would not look out of place today. The inside of the ring is inscribed with “Franz, April 6, 1866.” Mary and Francis were the parents of Mary of Teck, the future spouse of George V.
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!
I mentioned last week that a Mrs. Greville bequeathed her jewelry collection to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). The Greville Peardrop Earrings are another trinket the lucky Queen Elizabeth inherited.
The earrings were made in 1938 by Cartier for Mrs. Greville. The diamond earrings consist of three portions: pentagonal tops, emerald-cut diamonds and pear-shaped drops. Queen Elizabeth bequeathed them to her daughter Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
But let’s back up for a second and talk about this Mrs. Greville. Who was she exactly? Mrs. Greville, born Margaret Helen Anderson (1863-1942), was the daughter of William McEwan, the founder of a beer brewing company. She married Captain Ronald Greville, heir to a baronetcy, in 1891. Her marriage provided her with numerous wedding jewels and she purchased more jewelry herself. Mrs. Greville cultivated the fine arts and was a patron of goldsmiths and jewelers. She may not have possessed a royal title, but she ran in the same social circles and entertained royals and celebrities.
The earrings were worn by the Queen Mother on numerous occasions. Today they are worn by Queen Elizabeth II. The legacy of Mrs. Greville lives on!
The note in the will bequeathing the collection read, “To Her Majesty The Queen, with my loving thoughts.” If only we all had a Mrs. Greville in our lives!
You may recognize today’s tiara because it was worn at a 2015 state banquet by the Duchess of Cambridge! The Lotus Flower Tiara was a gift from Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother). The Queen Mother later gave it to Princess Margaret, who loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Serena, to wear as her wedding diadem. Quite a historic tiara with so many outings!
Geoffrey Munn describes the tiara as “Egyptian inspired.” Indeed, the tiara is arranged in a line of diamond encrusted lotus flowers and arches. It’s studded with two pearls at its base and topped with a large natural pearl.
I am not sure of the ownership of this tiara, but since it was more recently seen on the Duchess of Cambridge I can only surmise that after the death of Princess Margaret it returned to Queen Elizabeth II.
I like that the tiara seems to be flexible. The Queen Mother wore it low across her forehead, as was the style. The Duchess of Cambridge wore it up higher. It’s wonderful when a tiara can be adjusted for a new era!
Here’s hoping to seeing this tiara again very soon!
These specacular diamond earrings were made by Cartier for Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1929. In 1942 she bequeathed her jewelry collection to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother). Just a few years later, in 1947, the king and queen gave the earrings to their daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as a wedding gift.
The classic design mimics a chandelier. The cut of the diamonds (half-moon, trapeze, square, baguette, baton and emerald) give the earrings their art deco style. I think the design is timeless. Sadly, they haven’t been worn in recent years.
The Spencer family is one of the oldest aristocratic families in Britain. In fact, I once read somewhere that Lady Diana Spencer had more royalty in her lineage than Prince Charles. Naturally such an illustrious family would be in possession of a few tiaras. One of their tiaras is the Spencer Tiara made world-famous by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Though two pieces set towards the back of the tiara date to the late 18th century, the Spencer Tiara was made by Garrard in the 1930s. The tiara’s design motif features diamond foliage, flowers and a heart-shaped center. The tiara is mounted in gold and the diamonds are set in silver. The two older elements of the tiara were probably owned by Frances, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The heart-shaped design was a gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp as a wedding present in 1919. In 1937, Garrard created this tiara by combining the heart-shaped motif with the two older Spencer elements, plus by adding a few modern elements.
While the tiara has elements that are very old, it is very much a 20th century tiara made famous in 1981 when Lady Diana Spencer wore it as her nuptial diadem.
Whenever I see this tiara I can’t help but think of our dear Diana and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s a beautiful diamond tiara which suited her very well. Today it’s owned by her brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer.
Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn
A majestic, historic diamond brooch designed as a double-headed eagle was recently sold at Sotheby’s. Initially it belonged to Leopold-Salvator of Habsburg-Lorraine, Archduke of Austria, Prince of Tuscany (1863-1931). The brooch was passed on to his descendants until it was sold in May 2021.
The double-headed eagle is significant because it symbolizes the coat of arms of the House of Austria. It’s entirely set with with cushion-shaped, round, single-cut and rose-cut diamonds. Whenever such historic jewels are sold I often wonder who the buyer is and if they plan on wearing the jewels. Here’s hoping that we see this unique brooch either worn or in a museum somewhere.
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.
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.”
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.
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.