Royal Jewellery: tiaras of Queen Elizabeth II
If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is the charm, the magic of royal families, their opulent costumes and courteous dresses; in short, the eccentricities that only they can wear because they can afford investing immense fortunes and, of course, the crown jewels.
It is considered that she has the most valuable collection of jewellery in the world and, like every self-respecting sovereign, the Queen of England has in her jewellery cabinet invaluable pieces to celebrate the different events and anniversaries, including some of the most valuable tiaras in the world, about which we are going to talk today in our jewellery blog.
Some of the most valuable tiaras in the world
One of the most beloved and precious jewels of the British sovereign is the Tiara Fringe, since it has a very special meaning for the whole family.
Originally created in 1830 and made for Queen Mary in 1919, this is a very simple and elegant tiara, made only with diamonds belonging to George III.
After having been used by several queen consorts, in 1947, Queen Elizabeth gave her daughter, the future Elizabeth II, this tiara to celebrate her marriage with Philip of Edinburgh. One of the best-known events is that just when the princess was dressing in Buckingham Palace, before leaving for Westminster Abbey, the tiara broke. Fortunately, the court jeweller was available for an emergency case and it was urgently repaired in time.
Years later, the Queen Mother lent Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, Anne, the tiara to marry Captain Mark Phillips in 1973.
The Tiara Vladimir is one of the most known and used jewel by the Royal sovereign. It consists of fifteen circles of diamonds from which hang pear-shaped pearls.
Created in 1880, its original owner was Maria Alexandrina of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, married to the Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia, uncle of Tsar Nicholas II.
Familiarly known as Mechen, when she was single she acquired an impressive collection of jewellery. After her death in 1920, the jewels passed on to her daughter, the Grand Duchess Elena of Russia, Princess of Greece.
In 1921, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom bought many of these jewels, including the tiara Vladimir. She later commissioned Garrad jeweller’s to adapt 15 Cambridge cabochon emeralds as an alternative to pearls.
In 1953, Queen Mary died and gave the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, and during the 65 years of her reign, the British sovereign has used the tiara on numerous occasions, both in its original shape (with pearls), with emeralds and even without anything on the circular supports.
Tiara Girls of Great Britain and Ireland
This piece was a wedding present, as the name suggests, from the girls of Great Britain and Ireland, a women’s committee led by Lady Eva Greville, who raised money to create and gave it to Queen Mary, in 1893, on the occasion of her marriage to Prince George.
Purchased at Garrard, this tiara has a scalloped design and a fleur de lis of diamonds set in silver and gold, and set on a bandeau base of alternating circles and tweezers between two flat bands of diamonds. In the original version of 1893, it was crowned by nine large Oriental pearls.
Inside the custom mahogany box provided by the jeweller, there was also a second frame, which allowed the tiara to be used as a crown.
In 1947, Queen Mary of Teck gave the tiara to her granddaughter, the future Elizabeth II, as a wedding present, and since then she has generally used it without the pearls and without the diamonds base, in order to make it much easier to wear.
Tiara Burmese Ruby
The Burmese Ruby is, among all the tiaras owned by Queen Elizabeth II, the only one made with rubies and the most modern, dating from 1973.
This one, like many others, was commissioned to Garrard and made of other loose pieces that were also wedding gifts.
On the one hand, we find the diamonds of Nizam of Hyderabad, a floral tiara by Cartier, that the Queen received as a wedding gift from Nizam, an Indian monarch.
And, on the other hand, there are the rubies that the people from Burma gave to Elizabeth. The present included a total of 96 rubies, which now are part of the tiara. According to Burmese culture, rubies help protect their bearer from the 96 diseases that can affect the human body. It is certainly a clear declaration by the Burmese people to ensure the Queen to be healthy forever.
Brazilian aquamarines Tiara
In 1953, on the occasion of her coronation, the president of Brazil gave Queen Elizabeth a spectacular set of square aquamarines consisting of a necklace and earrings.
Subsequently, she was also given a bracelet and a brooch with the same design. In 1957, in order to complete the collection, the Queen commissioned the tiara.
This set has become one of her favourite jewels, although certainly it is not one of the most attractive designs, because of the excessive size and layout of the stones. However, as he said: “not all women could wear it. In fact, it only fits Her Majesty the Queen”.
Among all designs of tiaras, the most prolific one is the fringe style, also known as “sunbeam”. It is such a simple and elegant design that it was usual, especially in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, for the brides of the Imperial Family to receive a fringe tiara on their wedding day.
Similar to that the Queen used for her wedding day, is this other tiara Kokoshnik, originally given in 1888 to the Princess of Wales, born Princess Alexandra of Denmark, on behalf of the 365 Peers of the United Kingdom.
The main difference between both tiaras is that the Kokoshnik one, of Russian influence, has small spaces between the diamond threads and that the “peaks” do not project at the top.
This tiara is made up of 61 platinum bars with a total of 488 inset diamonds, including a larger one of 3.25K, about 65 grams.
Tiara Cambridge Lovers Knot
The original Lovers Knot was given in 1818 to Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel by her parents, when she married the first Duke of Cambridge. In 1843, she gave it to her daughter Augusta for her marriage to the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Eventually the tiara came to be owned by the Duchess Jutta, but when she left for exile in France, the piece was finally sold and its trace completely disappeared. In 1914, Queen Mary of Teck commissioned Garrard to make a copy of the tiara worn by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel.
Its design was slightly modified. The tiara, of neoclassical style, was made up of diamonds and 19 pendant pearls, since it belonged to the Queen.
In her will, Queen Mary bequeathed this jewel to her granddaughter Elizabeth, who later gave it to Diana, the Princess of Wales, as a wedding present. After her divorce, the piece was returned to the Queen again.
George VI Tiara (Diamonds and sapphires)
Although sapphires, as well as rubies, are gorgeous, they are not among the most used stones by the Queen in her different attires, but she do use them in brooches for daywear dresses.
This tiara, together with a bracelet, was made in 1963 with sapphires that once belonged to Princess Louise of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha.
What Elizabeth II really wanted was to complete a Victorian sapphires set, made up of a necklace with 18 rectangular sapphires in bunches of diamonds, and wonderful matching earrings, given to her by her father, King George VI, once again on the occasion of her marriage with Philip of Edinburgh.