The Devonshire Diamonds: The Coronet, Tiara, & Parure

While not technically royal jewels, the Ducal Devonshire tiaras and parure are, shall we say, significant pieces of jewelry so let’s give attention where attention is due!

#1Devonshire Diamond Coronet

Hello, gorgeous! (via Chartsworth official site)
Hello, gorgeous! (via Chatsworth official site)

Let’s start with the biggest, which is suitably described on the official Chatsworth website as a Diamond Coronet rather than a tiara. In her delightful book Home to Roost, the late Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire (‘Debo’ to family and friends) includes an amusing chapter to tiaras in general. It was originally an article written for The Telegraph in 2002. Here are some excerpts (shown in bold) that highlight this tiara of all tiaras:

My grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire, was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for forty-three years from 1910. Together they weathered long hours of tiara’d evenings, including those during the fabulous Indian Durbar in Delhi in 1911. The magically beautiful but relentless program, carried out in torrid heat, was exhausting for all concerned, and after one particularly lengthy evening Granny Evie was heard to say, ‘The Queen has been complaining about the weight of her Tiara…The Queen doesn’t know what a heavy tiara is.’ 

Evelyn knew what she was talking about. The larger of the two Devonshire diamond tiaras in indeed a whopper.

Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)

 It was made in 1893 for Louise, the 8th Duke of Devonshire’s wife. She was formerly married to the Duke of Manchester and was known as ‘the Double Duchess.’

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire did wear ‘the big tiara’ on a few occasions. I’ll let her tell the story…

I remember going to…an entertainment in London in the early 1960’s, by myself as Andrew had an engagement elsewhere. With…confidence I wore the big tiara…When I ran out of partners and wanted to go home, I went out to look for a taxi. It never occurred to me that it might not be a good idea to stand alone in the street, long after midnight, with a load of diamonds around my neck and 1,900 more glittering above my head.

One memorable evening we were staying at Windsor Castle for a dance given by the Queen. I came down to dinner, got up as I thought our hostess and the other guests would be, the big tiara firmly in place. To my horror none of the other women wore theirs. It is far worse to be overdressed than underdressed a I sat through dinner wishing I was anywhere else. When the dancing began, I took it off, put it under a chair and enjoyed myself enormously. I suppose Windsor Castle in the only house where you could be sure of finding the blessed thing still there at bedtime.

If only there was a picture of Debo standing there waiting for a taxi to arrive! She perhaps most famously wore the tiara for her 80th birthday party along with the famous House of Worth gown worn by Louise, Duchess of Devonshire for the Diamond Jubilee costume party she threw at Devonshire House in London in 1897.

Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)
Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)

This photo shows the Duchess at the 1897 costume ball (on the left) side by side with Debo. It appears that the sleeves of the gown were altered at some point after the ball.

Via Royal Jewels of the World
Via Royal Jewels of the World

Here’s a more relaxed photo. I love how it really shows that Debo didn’t take all the Duchess stuff too seriously,

via Royal Jewels of the World
via Royal Jewels of the World

This photo shows the gown in more detail. It is displayed at Chatsworth.

(via Chatsworth)
(via Chatsworth)

Let’s take another look at the tiara, I can’t resist.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This detailed description comes from the Chatsworth site and is quite illuminating.

The coronet has a row of thirteen scrolled palmettes (a fan- like shape of leaves on a palm tree), alternating with a lotus pattern. The upper section was made around 1893 and was set throughout with cushion-shaped diamonds. The base has a row of lozenge motifs set between two lines of more cushion shaped diamonds and dates from around 1897.It is mounted in silver and gold.

In order to make the coronet the 8th Duke of Devonshire removed the diamonds in the Devonshire Parure and other heirlooms, such as the 6th Duke’s Garter Star. These totalled 1041 diamonds, to which Skinner added another 840.

A.E.Skinner was the jewelry firm that made this historic piece.

#2 The Devonshire Parure

So that brings us to the Devonshire Parure. It really is quite eclectic and wouldn’t go with just any old gown.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

I think Debo agreed with me. Here is her description of it from Home to Roost:

This set consists of seven monumental pieces of jewelry which, until you look closely at them, might have been pulled out of the dressing-up box. They are a bizarre combination of antique  (Greek and Roman) and Renaissance cameos and intaglios carved from emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and semi-previous stones – cornelian, onyx, amethysts and garnets – set in gold and enamel of exquisite workmanship by C.F. Hancock of London. They were commissioned by the dear, old extravagant 6th Duke of Devonshire, ‘the Bachelor Duke’, for his niece, Countess Granville, to wear at the coronation of TsarAlexander II in Moscow in 1856. This tiara and its companion necklace, stomacher, and bracelet are very prickly to wear. I know because I put them all on for a Women’s Institute performance when I was cast as ‘The Oldest Miss World in the Wold.’

Here she is wearing some of the pieces in what appears to be her everyday clothes and in front of the portrait that was done by Lucian Freud when she was 34 years old. There has been some chatter that this was photoshopped. It’s possible, but my guess is that it’s a real photo and she did put it on like this, perhaps for the Women’s Institute event!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

More information on the parure can be found at the official Chatsworth website here, if you’d like to see. This is the most significant (and tiara-like) of the headpieces in my opinion:

A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)
A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)

#3 The Devonshire Diamond Tiara

This is the tiara that Debo was most photographed in and you can see why she would have chosen it over the ‘big one.’ It reminds me a bit of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara – formal but not too heavy, great upward spires, and lots of breathing room so it’s not a wall of diamonds.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

This portrait was taken of the Duchess around the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Information on the history of the tiara can’t be found on the Chatsworth site unfortunately, perhaps they will add it at some point.

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)

The big tiara was worn by Debo’s mother in law the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire since she assisted the Queen during the Coronation and would have had more eyes on her. It’s been noted that Debo was likely the only Duchess at the Coronation wearing their family’s ‘second best’ tiara.

So regal! (via Chatsworth)
So regal! (via Chatsworth)

This explanation of the peeress robes she is shown wearing for the coronation comes from the Chatsworth site:

Cecil Beaton called Deborah ‘the most beautiful of all’ the peeresses in this off-the-shoulder robe, believed to have been reworked from an original worn by Georgiana, wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. In her memoirs, Deborah describes how she came to wear it:

“…Moucher [Mary Devonshire] was to have the robes that had been carefully put away by Granny Evie in 1937 after King George VI’s coronation. Chatsworth, as always, came to the rescue. There were a number of tin boxes…In the vain hope of finding something for me, we started going through them and, lo and behold, from beneath a ton of tissue paper in the box that had held Moucher’s, appeared a second crimson peeress’s robe. The velvet is of exceptional quality, so soft your fingers hardly know they’re touching it, and of such pure brilliant crimson as to make you blink.” 
Deborah Devonshire, Wait for me! (John Murray, 2010)

So, what do you think? I’d take the smaller tiara very happily!

The George VI Victorian Sapphire Tiara Suite

In honour of it being the last day of September, we thought we would focus on one of the newer sapphire tiaras belonging to HM Queen Elizabeth, the George VI Victorian Sapphire Tiara Suite. This post comes from our guest royal poster Sarah Taylor, who is quite the jewelry expert!!

Let’s dive in.

HM Queen Elizabeth had this tiara commissioned in 1963 to match a sapphire suite that was given to her as HRH Princess Elizabeth by her father HM King George VI on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947.  This set of sapphire jewels and tiara belongs to HM Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewelry collection.

The Sapphire Suite was created in 1850, and consisted of a long necklace of linked oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds, and a pair of oblong sapphire earrings surrounded by diamonds in a chandelier style. In 1952 the Queen had the necklace shortened by removing the largest sapphire, and in 1959 she had that central sapphire made into a gorgeous sapphire pendant, which can also be worn as a brooch.

The Queen wore the necklace and earrings many times before she had the tiara commissioned.

Midnight Matinee, 1951

At the premiere of the film Rob Roy in 1953

The tiara and a matching bracelet were commissioned by Her Majesty in 1963 to complete the parure.

The tiara and bracelet was debuted in 1969 when the Queen wore them to a charity event with Prince Philip

It is believed that the tiara was constructed out of a necklace that the Queen bought in 1963 that originally belonged to Louise of Belgium, Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (daughter of King Leopold II).

Here is Louise wearing the necklace. If you look carefully you can see many similarities between the tiara and the necklace, specifically the floral motifs.

The Queen has also worn the George VI Sapphire Suite Tiara more recently, including memorably in 1994 when Bill Clinton was visiting London, prior to a banquet in honour of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

What do you think of this tiara?

As promised, we have some posts on our recent visit to Kensington Palace to follow. See you then!

In the meantime, you may also like these other posts by Sarah Taylor:

The Emerald Parure of the Netherlands

Wessex Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara

Queen Juliana of the Netherlands Aquamarine Tiara and Parure


The Emerald Parure of The Netherlands

The Emerald Parure of The Netherlands

To help us get out of our post-Jubilee funk, here’s a favourite emerald parure to drool over. This post on some seriously gorgeous bling comes courtesy of Royal Poster Sarah, who is quite an expert on these matters (thank you, Sarah!).

The history of emerald parure of The Netherlands starts in 1898-1899 when is was created by Eduard Schürmann & Co. of Frankfurt, as a gift from Queen Emma (Queen Consort to William III, and Queen Regent) to her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina in 1899. The emeralds arrived in Holland in the 18th century with Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia (niece of Frederick the Great), wife of William V of Orange-Nassau. It now belongs to the Orange-Nassau Family Foundation, which was set up in the 1960’s by HM Queen Juliana as a repository for a large section of the jewels of the Dutch Royal Family.

The parure that was created in 1898-1899 consisted of a delicate v-shaped diamond and emerald tiara, a necklace and pendant, a ring, a brooch, and two bracelets.

Here are the settings of the brooch:

The tiara has scroll and figure 8 motifs, with silver, gold and diamonds, and 2 round emeralds surround by diamonds on the sides, with the original tiara having 3 large emeralds and diamonds clusters in the center. In the 1950’s the two emeralds in the center were removed to make earrings for Queen Juliana, and two additional emeralds were put in the center to make the current configuration of the tiara.

Queen Juliana

This tiara has been worn upright, but it’s also been worn upside down in a delightful twist on the part of Queen Juliana and her daughters. Isn’t it neat?

Queen Beatrix

HRH Princess Margriet

HRH Princess Irene

The necklace consists of an intricate design of emeralds and diamonds, with the detachable pendant continuing the figure 8 and floral motifs from the tiara. The necklace has been worn both with and without the detachable pendant (which is often worn on the left), and with the back clasp of the necklace at a front central focus. The brooch itself has also been worn frequently. Both are very versatile pieces, and have been worn by multiple royal ladies!

The bracelet is also worn frequently, as is the ring – both visible in the following photos.

It’s so great to see parts of the parure worn by so many ladies of the Dutch Royal Family!

Princess Máxima (3), Princess Mabel, Princess Laurentien

One of the most interesting aspects of the Emerald Parure of the Netherlands is that it can be completely changed by removing the emeralds, and attaching pearls! This diamond and pearl version has also been widely used since it was made in 2003, and both versions are in regular use by the ladies of the Dutch Royal Family. How neat is that?

Princess Laurentien, Princess Máxima, Queen Beatrix, Princess Margriet, Duchess Annemarie of Parma

What do you think of the Emerald Parure of the Netherlands?

Provenance of the Emerald Parure

  1. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
  2. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands
  3. Orange-Nassau Family Foundation

Here’s the list of all recorded wearers of the Emerald Parure – it’s extensive!

  • Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
  • Queen Juliana of the Netherlands
  • Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Dowager Duchess of Parma (daughter of Queen Juliana, sister of Queen Beatrix)
  • Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; both emerald and pearl settings
  • Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Mrs. van Vollenhoven; both emerald and pearl settings (daughter of Queen Juliana, sister of Queen Beatrix)
  • Princess Máxima of the Netherlands; both emerald and pearl settings (wife of Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, the heir apparent to the throne of the Netherlands)
  • Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands; the pearl setting (wife of Prince Constantijn)
  • Duchess Annemarie of Parma; the pearl setting (she is the daughter-in-law of Princess Irene, wife of Prince Carlos, Duke of Parma)

This is the third post in our emerald series – first up was the Danish Emerald Parure, second the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara.

The Greek Emerald Parure Tiara

The second of our emerald tiaras for the month of May, the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara!

The Greek Emerald Parure Tiara

This tiara’s history begins in 1867, when Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia arrived in Greece to marry King George I. She brought with her a set of cabochon emeralds in varying sizes, and during her lifetime Queen Olga of Greece wore those emeralds in a variety of settings – in her kokoshnik, as pendants on a necklace, and as brooches.

Upon Queen Olga’s death in 1926 her emeralds passed to her grandson, King George II, and his wife Queen Elisabeth of Greece decided to really use the emeralds. She wore it as a single emerald in a bandeau low across her forehead, which was in fashion at the time, and she also had several emeralds set in a diamond frame. However, Queen Elisabeth eventually decided to have a new tiara commissioned by Cartier that was quite similar to a tiara that was owned by her sister, Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. This tiara is in the style of the kokosnik tiara, and features 5 cabuchon emeralds set between stylized ‘E’’s made out of diamonds, in honour of Elisabeth’s name.

Queen Elisabeth and King George II ended up divorced with no children after a period of exile. The tiara remained in the Greek Royal Family, and it makes its next appearance on Queen Frederika, the wife of King Pavlos, the younger brother of King George II.

Queen Frederika loved the emeralds, and wore them on a regular basis, both as a tiara, or as a necklace in combination with other tiaras in the Greek Royal family. Queen Frederika altered the tiara and removed the band at the top and bottom of the tiara, making it the tiara that exists today. Queen Frederika also completed the elements of the parure, making use of the remaining cabochon emeralds in a pair of drop emerald earrings, a large brooch with multiple mirrored diamond ‘E’s and more emeralds, and 5 single emerald drops which can be suspended from any necklace, or suspended from the brooch.

Queen Frederika passed the full parure to the wife of her son King Constantine II upon his marriage in 1946 to HRH Princess Anne-Marie Dagmar Ingrid of Denmark.

The new Queen Anne-Marie, who was married to King Constantine II just two weeks after her 18th birthday, is the youngest sister of Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, and the cousin of King Carl Gustav of Sweden. (See our most recent tiara post on the Danish Emerald Parure, for Queen Anne-Marie’s sister Queen Margarethe II of Denmark in more fabulous emeralds!) King Constantine II, Queen Anne-Marie and their children went into exile in 1976, and King Constantine was official deposed in 1973 when Greece declared itself a republic. The majority of the jewels of the Royal Family of Greece remained their property even after the monarch was abolished, and this is true of the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara.

Queen Anne-Marie has worn the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara frequently, both with the full parure, and with the tiara by itself or parts of the parure separately. She seems especially fond of the brooch, which she often suspends from a necklace she was given by her mother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, which she received from Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. Queen Ingrid separated the necklace into two pieces, one of which she gave to Anne-Marie, and the other to her sister Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. Queen Anne-Marie has also worn the separate emerald drops suspended from the necklace.

You can really see the ‘E’ diamond motifs in the photo on the right.

Queen Anne-Marie and King Constantine II of Greece with daughter Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark at the Gala in honour of HM Queen Margarethe’s 40th year on the throne of Denmark, 2010

What do you think of the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara?

See the Danish Emerald Parure for the first in our emerald tiara series for May.

Up next in emerald tiaras – The Emerald Parure of the Netherlands.

Queen Juliana of the Netherlands’ Aquamarine Tiara and Parure

HM Queen Juliana of the Netherlands’ Aquamarine Tiara and Parure

                       Here worn by HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands

The Dutch Royal House has a beautiful collection of aquamarines, which have been collected since the 1920’s. Many of the pieces have great sentiment attached to them, and have been worn by many of the ladies of the Dutch Royal House. Queen Juliana’s Aquamarine Parure was purchased by one of the House of Orange-Nassau Foundations, so it belongs to the Foundation and cannot be split up among any heirs (important given the equal inheritance rules in Dutch law). This ensures it remains available to the Royal House to wear.

In 1927 as an eighteenth birthday present Princess Juliana received from her parents Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Henry an art deco style tiara of Brazilian aquamarines and diamonds set in platinum, from the Dutch jeweler Kempen, Begeer & Vos.The base of the tiara is a geometric assortment of square-cut aquamarines, topped with seven briolette aquamarines.

Princess Juliana received from her grandmother the Dowager Queen Emma, an aquamarine and diamond demi-parure. It’s an Edwardian/Belle Époque style demi-parure of a necklace, made by Burnier in The Hague. The long necklace (a sautoir) consists of one rectangular aquamarine, and six square aquamarines. The sautoir can be shortened and worn as a bracelet.

In 1937 Queen Juliana received a wedding present from her husband Prince Bernhard of a long necklace with a large pear-shaped aquamarine pendant.

Queen Juliana also received a wedding gift from her mother-in-law, Queen Armgard, which is a set of briolette aquamarine earrings. These earrings match the briolette aquamarines in the tiara.

Queen Juliana received a brooch from Prince Bernhard as an anniversary gift, a cushion cut aquamarine brooch in platinum, surrounded by smaller aquamarines.

The demi-parure also includes another large rectangular brooch.

After WWII and the Dutch Royal Family’s return to Holland (they spent the war living in Canada and Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa), Queen Juliana started to wear all of the aquamarine pieces together, as a parure. She had previously worn them only as separate pieces. As you can see, Queen Juliana and her three daughters, Princess Beatrix (now Queen Beatrix), Princess Irene, and Princess Margriet, wore the aquamarines in separate pieces, as well as the full tiara and parure, over the years.

It is now only worn as an entire set by by HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, the wife of the heir to the Dutch throne HRH Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, and HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, a younger sister of HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Queen Beatrix and other family members continue to wear parts of the aquamarine parure.
Isn’t it nice that the Dutch Royal Family share tiaras and parures as much as they do – allows us to see more jewelry!!

HRH Princess Margriet

Here’s HRH Princess Máxima

This is the third in our series of aquamarine tiaras for March – the first was Queen Elizabeth’s Brazilian Aquamarine and Diamond Parure and the Boucheron Diamond Clips and the second was The Aquamarine Pine Flower Tiara.

Stay tuned for a post on an Aquamarine Tiara from Sweden – the Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara of Sweden!

Princess Diana’s Jewels: The Sultan of Oman Suite

So we’ve been thinking about Princess Diana’s jewels lately and thought it was about time for another post on the topic. After all, who doesn’t like talking about royal bling?

The focus of our discussion today is the jewels given to Diana by His Majesty The Sultan of Oman. He is pictured betweenthe Prince and Princess of Wales in the image above.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited Oman in November of 1986. The trip was quite a whirlwind for the couple; it also included stops in Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Here’s a quick, interesting clip of the Prince and Princess arriving in separate cars as per custom in the Arab country. Diana’s skirt was considered short for the conservative nation and caused quite a stir:

Here’s a link to a video

The picture below of the Princess talking to female students was taken during a visit to Oman University. She was clearly making an effort to wear conservative clothes that day!

And we love this picture so just had to include it. It must have been sooooo hot there…look at those flushed cheeks.

The generous gift from the Sultan included a modern diamond and sapphire necklace with a matching bracelet and earrings. The sapphires are embedded in the crescent that surrounds the strands of diamonds. In the photograph below, Princess Diana is wearing both the Spencer Tiara and the Sultan of Oman necklace. The blue stones stand out next to the black of the dress.

Diana continued to wear these pieces throughout the years which implies that she genuinely liked them. Here’s a good view of the matching earrings:

The photograph below was taken in October of 1996; Diana was attending the film premiere of the film Haunted.

Here’s a better look at the bracelet:

These pieces certainly aren’t our favourite –  they are just a bit too ’80’s and lack a sense of timelessness – but Diana wore them well. They must be locked away in a vault until the right royal lady comes along to dust them off. We can’t imagine that they’ll be seeing the light of day anytime soon.

What do you think of these pieces? Too modern or just right?