Tiara Thursday: The Chaumet Lacis Tiara

© Chaumet

When Rebecca Bettarini marries her Russian Grand Duke (more about his imperial lineage here) later this year, she’ll be wearing the Lacis Tiara by Chaumet. The tiara, though understated, is quite spectacular. Hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds, set in white gold, are studded throughout the latticework. There are two center diamonds: one oval cut diamond weighing just over 5 carats and one pear-shaped diamond weighing 2.21 carats.

I can understand why Rebecca selected Maison Chaumet for her nuptial diadem. Before the Russian Revolution, Chaumet had a decades-long relationship with the Romanovs.

© Chaumet

In an interview with Point de Vue, Rebecca said Chaumet presented her with several tiaras. She knew almost immediately which tiara she wanted to wear. The Lacis Tiara reminded her of a kokoshnik, the traditional Russian headdress. Another plus for her is that the tiara has never been worn before (it’s a fairly recent creation).

But there is more to planning an imperial wedding than just choosing a tiara. As part of the wedding preparations Rebecca converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. She also changed her name to Victoria Romanovna. The wedding will take place in St. Petersburg on October 1, 2021.

Rebecca’s nuptial tiara is modern, light and airy; perfect for an evening of revelry and dancing. It’s difficult to judge this tiara as a wedding diadem without first seeing the wedding ensemble, but I trust she will look fabulous.

What do we say, yay or nay?

The Manchester Tiara

© The Victoria and Albert Museum

Today’s tiara belonged to an American woman who married into the British aristocracy. The Manchester Tiara was made by Cartier in 1903 for Consuelo, Dowager Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909). 

The heart-shaped scrolls give this tiara a very romantic feel, don’t you think? It’s set with thousands of rose-cut diamonds, most of them supplied by the Dowager Duchess herself. Mr. Cartier, when planning the tiara’s design, asked his designers do draw inspiration from the 18th century ironworks of Paris and Versailles. This was a fitting design inspiration because Consuelo spent the early years of her life in Paris.

The Dowager Duchess of Manchester was born Miss Consuelo Yznaga in 1853 in New York City. She was one of four children born to Cuban-born millionaire Antonio Yznaga del Valle and his American-born wife Ellen Maria Clement of New Orleans.

Even though the Yznagas were wealthy, the family was met with suspicion by the upper echelons of American society. On top of being classified as nouveau riche (new money) by the established families, the Yznagas had “foreign lineage” which made them less desirable to socialize with. (To put things in perspective, the Astors were old money.)

Wikimedia Commons. Consuelo, painted by John Singer Sargent.

Nevertheless, Consuelo grew up happy and loved by her parents. Because the Yznagas were shunned by America’s top families, they spent most of their time in Paris where they received a very warm welcome by Empress Eugénie and her circle. After the fall of the Second Empire, the Yznagas relocated to London.

Consuelo became one of the first “Dollar Princesses” when she married George Victor Drogo Montagu, the future 8th Duke of Manchester. His family was initially not pleased with the match. They had never met the bride before the engagement and could not comprehend having an American daughter-in-law. They even tried to stop the wedding from happening. However, the family was won over by Consuelo and the wedding took place in 1876 in New York City.

Though it was not a happy marriage (both had extramarital affairs), Consuelo paved the way for other Americans to marry into aristocratic families.

The Manchester Tiara, with its heart-shaped motif, was a fitting choice for a sentimental American woman who forged a place for herself within British society. Today the tiara belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sources

American Heiresses of the Gilded Age by Melissa Ziobro (The Great Courses)

The Victoria and Albert Museum

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

Queen Elizabeth of Belgium’s Scroll Tiara

© Maison Cartier

Today’s tiara, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium’s Diamond Scroll Tiara, was made by Cartier in Paris in 1910. The hundreds of diamonds are set in platinum and the scroll motif gives the hefty tiara a very romantic feel.

The scroll tiara was purchased by Queen Elizabeth of Belgium (1876-1965) and inherited by her son King Leopold III of Belgium. However, today the tiara is back in the ownership of Cartier.

Queen Soraya’s Diamond Star Tiara

Wikimedia Commons

Queen Soraya of Afghanistan (1899-1968), Afghanistan’s first Queen Consort, is photographed in her Diamond Star Tiara. Today Soraya is remembered for being a progressive royal. She was a vocal proponent of gender equality.

Sadly, the Afghan Civil War (1928-1929) drove Soraya and her husband, King Amanullah, into exile. They settled in Rome.

I do not have any additional information on this tiara. My guess is that it was made in the early 1920s. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any further details on Soraya’s tiara.

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!

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!

Sources

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.

Sources

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.

Sources

Royal Collection Trust

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.”

Sources

Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

Garrard

Royal Collection Trust