The incredibly lavish events that marked Prince Pavlos of Greece’s wedding to Marie-Chantal Miller deserve a place in the history books. Last week we recapped the wedding festivites (click here for a refresher) and today we’re taking a close look at the bride’s couture wedding dress.
Since the couple became engaged during the Christmas 1994 holiday and the wedding took place on July 1 of 1995, there were just 6 months to pull everything together. Marie-Chantal chose Valentino to design the dress and according to Vogue, it took more than 25 seamstresses to complete the £140,000 ivory silk gown. Twelve different types of lace reportedly were included in the dress and with a high neck, fitted bodice, and long sleeves Marie-Chantal wanted quite a traditional and modest silhouette. The bodice and sleeves are made of floral lace (much like Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress) and the lace extends to the empire line of the dress.
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It’s a beautiful gown but even with all the attention to detail it is not a favorite of mine- overall it just seems rather heavy – but I do love the lustre of the ivory silk and the detail on the skirt is gorgeous.
In fact, the lace appliqué on the skirt is somewhat reminiscent of Kate Middletown’s Alexander McQueen wedding gown. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marie-Chantals’ gown was an inspirational reference for her. Check out both of the gowns on display below to see the similar affect they both have:
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Different and yet so similar – can you see it, too?
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I think what really takes the heaviness factor over the top is the chantilly lace veil; there’s just so much going on and those scallops are not dainty. I think a more diaphanous veil may have done the trick. Regardless, the veil extended beyond the length of the dress which was quite stunning, though.
Along with her intricate veil Marie-Chantal wore a diamond and pearl encrusted tiara. This particular tiara is known as the Antique Corsage Tiara and it was on loan from her mother-in-law Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.
Queen Anne-Marie received it on her 18th birthday (gotta love the 18th birthday tiara tradition) and it has quite an extraordinary history. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor – a fantastic blog- has a great post on this tiara here. Marie-Chantal wore the tiara at other occasions after the wedding, though nowadays she seems to prefer wearing three other tiaras at her disposal (perhaps they should be the subject of another post!).
In choosing Valentino, Marie-Chantal started something of a trend among royal brides including Maxima, shown here at her 2002 wedding to Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Maxima’s gown was made of silk mikado and has a similar silhouette to Marie-Chantal’s.
as did Prince Amadeo of Belgium’s bride Elisabetta Rosboch Von Wolkenstein in 2014.
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Marie-Chantal remained friends with Valentino over the years and loaned her dress to be exhibited for Valentino: Master of Couture. This exhibit was held at Somerset House in London from November 2012 – March 2013 which gives us a great look at the detail of the dress. Here’s a better look at the train – it is separate from the skirt and extends from the waist.
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Marie-Chantal and Valentino posed in front of the dress at a private viewing before the exhibit opened which is quite sweet.
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The King and Queen of Greece showed up as well, and Marie-Chantal brought along her oldest child and only daughter Princess Olympia (more on her here).
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Marie-Chantal still wears Valentino and they seem quite chummy; she shared this instagram picture with the design legend en route to Princess Madeleine’s wedding.
So what are your thoughts on this wedding gown – too ornate and heavy or perfectly pretty and just right?
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
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a more relaxed photo. I love how it really shows that Debo didn’t take all the Duchess stuff too seriously,
This photo shows the gown in more detail. It is displayed at Chatsworth.
Let’s take another look at the tiara, I can’t resist.
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.
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!
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:
#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.
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.
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.
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!
I do enjoy taking a good look at every tiara royal tiara out there, and I know many of you do, too! This post focuses on one of the Queen Mum’s tiaras, the Lotus Flower Tiara (this beauty also goes by the name Papyrus Leaf Tiara sometimes, too).
As we know, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon did not choose to wear a tiara on her wedding day though she already had at least two at her disposal. She decided to keep things simple, and go for flowers instead which was more in vogue at the time.
Honestly, I think she really missed a great tiara wearing opportunity here. I mean, come on!!
Side Note Fun fact: James Pryce, Kate Middleton’s hairdresser for her wedding day, has confirmed that Kate did originally plan to wear flowers in her hair but by February had switched to a tiara.
However, after the wedding, she started to get her tiaras out and the Lotus Flower Tiara became one of her go-to’s in the early years. According to the fabulous book Tiaras, A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn, Queen Elizabeth let it be known that this tiara was originally owned by Queen Mary.
It may very well have been made from the diamonds and pearls of this necklace and was said to have been made by William Davis of E. Wolff & Co., who were suppliers to Garrard.
George Munn describes it as being “one of the prettiest of Queen Elizabeth’s tiaras…was Egyptian in inspiration, arranged as a band of stylized lotus flowers and overreaching arches, with the graduated pinnacles surmounted by a single pearl…The lotus flower tiara was given to Queen Elizabeth by Queen Mary.”
The then Duchess of York sat for a series of portraits in 1927 which were taken to mark her tour of Australia that year. As you can see, she chose to wear it low on the forehead as was the fashion at that time. (Check out our posts on Tiaras worn in Untraditional Ways for more, here, here, and here).
Apparently, she also took the tiara to Canada on her trip there in 1939 and wore it for the Opening of Parliament. Still hunting for a picture, and will post one if or when it is unearthed!
Later, the Queen Mum gifted the tiara to Princess Margaret, who wore it on numerous occasions, and with great aplomb.
Margaret also chose to wear it when she sat for this portrait by John Gilroy. The portrait is owned by The National Portrait Gallery:
Later, Princess Margaret’s daughter-in-law the Hon. Serena Stanhope wore it on her wedding day, which unfortunately is the last time it was actually seen on top of anyone’s head (at least in public!). She also wore a wedding gown that was inspired by Princess Margaret’s wedding dress.
It seems to still be owned by the family since this tiara was not included in the action of Princess Margaret’s personal effects after her death, so here’s to hoping we see it out again soon.
I think that this tiara is a real treasure because of it’s history (it started out as Queen Mary’s necklace!) and it’s appearance at key events over many decades. Plus, it’s elegant and does well with many different hair do’s (total bonus!). What do you think of this taira?
UPDATED December 2013: Kate was photographed wearing this tiara to a ball at Buckingham Palace. Hurrah! This is only Kate’s second tiara appearance and it’s a fabulous choice of tiara for her, don’t you think? Check out our post on Kate and this tiara here.
Today let’s chat about a formidable lady who was affectionately known to friends as “Mrs. Ronnie.”
The daughter of Scottish brewer, philanthropist, and MP William McEwan and Margaret Anderson, she was born Margaret McEwan in 1863. Hilariously, she would freely announce she’d “rather be a beeress than a peeress” and married the Hon. Ronald Greville in 1891. She quickly earned a reputation for her spirited personality and for throwing enormous parties.
Though she was quite a bit older than the Duke and Duchess of York, she became a good and loyal friend to both of them. When she passed away in 1942, she left her extensive collection of jewels to HM Queen Elizabeth “with my loving thoughts” in their entirety.
This short video entitled “Have You Heard About Mrs. Greville?” gives some more insights into her life.
In fact, fact one of the first letters that Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon wrote to Prince Albert alludes to her. In a letter dated to 13 December, 1920, she wrote:
Dear Prince Albert,
Thank you so much for your letter. I am looking forward very much to Mrs Ronnie Greville’s party – though the thought of it terrifies me! I haven’t been to a proper dinner party for months and months, and have quite forgotten how to behave! I expect it will be great fun though…”
Notably, the new Duke and Duchess spent their honeymoon in 1923 in Mrs. Greville’s home Polesden Lacey in Surrey.
This photograph shows the Duke and Duchess on their honeymoon there.
We now jump ahead many years to September 1942 when she wrote to Osbert Sitwell (a write that she got to know through Mrs. Greville) of a recent visit she had with their ailing friend. Her letter reads:
“I saw Mrs. Ronnie about three weeks ago. She was at Braemar and quite miserable there. She came over to Balmoral, & it was too pathetic to see this little bundle of unquenchable courage & determination, quite helpless except for one very bright eye. I had not seen her for a couple of months, & was very shocked and sad at the change. But with all her weakness there was just the same tenacity of purpose, & I felt full of admiration for such a wonderful exhibition of ‘never give in’.
After she passed away that month, the Queen wrote another letter dated to Mr. Sitwell. It is dated to 27 September 1942 and gives a sense of Mrs. Ronnie’s sense of humour:
“I shall miss her very much indeed..she was so shrewd, so kind, so amusingly unkind, so sharp, such fun, so naughty (‘amn’t I naughty’), that must be very Scotch to say ‘amn’tI’, and altogether a real person, a character, utterly Mrs. Ronal Grenville and no tinge of anything alien”
The first mention of her jewels comes in a letter dated to 13 October 1942 when she wrote to her mother-in-law Queen Mary from Balmoral Castle. She says:
“…I must tell you that Mrs. Greville has left me her jewels, tho’ I am keeping that quiet as well for the moment! She left them to me “with her loving thoughts”, dear old thing, and I feel very touched. I don’t suppose I shall see what they consist of for a long time, owing to the slowness of lawyers and death duties, etc, but I know she had a few good things. Apart from everything else, it is rather exciting to be left something, and I do admire beautiful sones with all my heart. I can’t help thinking most women do!”…
There has been some conjecture that Queen Mary, who certainly loved beautiful stones with all her heart, may have had her eye on Mrs. Greville’s collection, so knowing that I read Queen Elizabeth’s letter a little differently. She must have had an inkling that there may be a case of ‘green eye’ on Queen Mary’s part!
Anyhow, the final letter I have to share before we dive into the jewels is from June 27, 1944. It is addressed to Princess Elizabeth and reads as follows:
My Darling Lilibet,
This is just a note about one or two things in case I get ‘done in’ by the Germans! I think that I have left all my own things to be divided between you and Margaret, but I am sure you will give her anything suitable later on – such as Mrs. Greville’s pearls, as you will have the Crown ones. It seems silly to be writing these sorts of things, but perhaps it would be easier for you darling if I explained about the jewels.
I am sure that you would find Cynthia Spencer & Dorothy Halifax very helpful over any difficult little problems & of course Granny!
Let’s hope this won’t be needed, but I know that you will always do the right thing, & remember to keep your temper & your word & be loving – sweet – Mummy.
It is a rather silly thing to be writing about! Note the allusion to Cynthia Spencer, Princess Diana’s grandmother (the lady below). They really were close!
And now, here are some of the key pieces of the collection known as the Greville Jewels:
The Greville Scroll Brooch, Cartier, 1929
We’ll start with this quite dainty and lovely brooch was made for Mrs. Greville by Cartier. It was worn numerous times by the Queen Mother, once even on a hat.
Since 2002, Queen Elizabeth has brought this brooch out a few times. More information can be found over at the always delightful blog, Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.
Chandelier Earrings, Cartier, 1929
These beauties were apart of the exhibit Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration put on at Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2012. You can read about our visit and impression of those jewels here, if you like. Aren’t they stunning?
King George and Queen Elizabeth gifted these earrings to Princess Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip, and she wore them quite a bit in the ’50’s and ’60’s.
They haven’t made an appearance in awhile which is just all sorts of wrong. It’s about time they did, I say.
The Greville Peardrop Earrings, Cartier, 1938
These drops are comparatively dainty!
The Queen Mum kept these in her collection and also bequeathed them to Queen Elizabeth upon her death in 2002.
Ruby & Diamond Necklace, Boucheron, 1907
This necklace is not for the faint of heart and was passed along to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her wedding. Princess Elizabeth modified the necklace slightly by removing two of the flower clusters to shorten it.
And voila, the necklace on an outing:
Since the Queen has taken to wearing higher necklines, this necklace hasn’t been worn in some time. It really needs a good dress to work around it! I think Sophie should be allowed to give it a go.
Marie Antoinette’s Emerald Necklace
There is some conflicting information about this one, so I’ll update this if I come across some more credible information. For now, let me tell you that it is believed that this emerald necklace, which once belonged to Marie Antoinette, was also included in the gift. It was also bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth upon the Queen Mother’s death, but as far as I know the Queen hasn’t worn it publicly. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
The GrevilleTiara, Boucheron, 1921
Mrs. Greville had this tiara made by Boucheron out of diamonds that she had on a pre-existing tiara. I would love to find a portrait or picture of Mrs. Greville wearing it, but haven’t tracked one down yet.
According to Geoffrey Munn in Tiaras: A History of Splendour, Mrs. Greville had the tiara made by boucheron using stones from an old tiara. The order is dated to January 8, 1921 and this is how it orignally appeared:
The Queen Mum certainly made good use out of it, wearing it on numerous occasions and in oodles of portraits. She had it modified slightly in 1953, when she increased the tiara’s height by adding the pinnacles to the top. It really is fit for a queen and is more of a crown than a tiara.
It has since graced the head of the Duchess of Cornwall, who carries it with aplomb. This tiara needs a proper amount of hair to sit on and Camilla’s ‘do works, I think.
The Greville Diamond Necklace
Ok, this piece is a bit of a mystery to me still. Geoffrey Munn alludes to it saying that the gift included “a spectacular necklace of brilliant and baguette diamonds by Cartier.” Still working on tracking down a picture, and will post it when I do!
So, what’s your favourite piece? I’d be quite content with the chandelier earrings and would most likely take to wearing them in the bath!
Many eagle eyes noticed that Sophie, Countess of Wessex was wearing a tiara that we had never seen her wear publicly before to the royal wedding in Luxembourg over the weekend. Hurray for Sophie getting some more jewel choices!
Here’s a good look at the tiara, which perched very nicely on Sophie’s head:
It turns out we discussed this very piece in a previous post by guest Royal Poster Sarah Taylor. Click here for a refresher. This tiara is from the Queen’s collection and is made up of diamonds and Brazilian aquamarines.
The Queen has not worn this tiara much at all – at least not publicly. Here is one of the few photographs available of the Queen wearing it:
The Queen was gifted this tiara from the Governor of Sao Paulo during a visit in 1968. There was some speculation that this tiara was taken apart to make up the Queen’s larger aquamarine tiara, so it is good to see that that was not the case after all!
Here’s that larger aquamarine tiara:
So how does this whole borrowing thing work, do you think? The Queen one day decides it’s time to dust off the jewel box and share? Or does Sophie ask before a big event like this? Or maybe this tiara was an extended loan from the Queen in recognition of Sophie and Edward’s tenth wedding anniversary? I am most curious about this.
Ok, let’s recap Sophie’s tiara collection so far.
1. Sophie’s Wedding Tiara
She of course has the tiara she wore to her own wedding in 1999, which had not been seen publicly before that day. It seems it is a piece made up of existing jewels in the royal collection. The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour has a great post on it. Click here for that. This is the only tiara that Sophie seems to have had access to for the first few years after her wedding.
Here she is with it for the occasion of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s wedding in 2010. Sophie is also wearing the same diamond necklace we saw this past weekend, which is also likely a loan from the Queen:
2. The Button Tiara
Sophie has also been loaned this button tiara, which she wore to a pre-wedding theatre event for the wedding of Prince Frederick of Denmark and Mary Donaldson in May 2004:
It is believed to be this tiara, which was owned by Prince Philip’s mother Princess Alice of Greece:
It seems especially fitting that Sophie should wear it since she and Edward will be Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh when the time comes. Curious that it has not made another public appearance since. I quite like it.
3. The Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara
Then of course there’s the aquamarine and diamond tiara which we went into in a previous post. Read all about it here. Much like Sophie’s wedding tiara, unfortunately not much is known about this tiara’s provenance. Fun fact: this tiara converts into a necklace so it can be worn for non-tiara events, too.
Check out the matching necklace and earrings she’s wearing in this photo. They appear to be the same as what Sophie wore with the button tiara in 2004.
4. The Brazilian Aquamarine & Diamond Tiara
And then of course there’s this ‘new’ one, which I must say I prefer over Sophie’s other aquamarine tiara.
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:
Yesterday, two Royal Posters visited Buckingham Palace to see the smashing jewelry exhibit put on to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is most aptly named Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration and it was magnificent. Serious jumpy claps…
The exhibit includes some choice selections from the Queen’s personal collection as well as from the Royal Collection. As the book which accompanies the exhibit explains:
“These works span three centuries and have been selected for their significance as works of art, for their diversity of diamond cutting and mounting that they embody, and for their historic importance. They also illustrate the ways in which diamonds have been used by royal patrons and collectors. Several of the exhibits were commissioned by Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901), the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. These works of art are distinct from the state regalia and jewels (Crown Jewels) held in the Tower of London.”
The tour includes complimentary audio tour which begins with a warm welcome from Prince Charles. After walking through the grand state rooms, including the throne room where wedding photos are traditionally taken, it’s time to see the diamonds. The room where the exhibit is set up has dim lighting, but each piece is lit up for extra glittery effect, and there’s no rush to go from one piece to the next. Love that. Let’s dive in!
Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown
The exhibit was set up in chronological order, so one of the first pieces that you see is Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown, which dates to 1870. After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the Queen preferred to wear colourless stones as much as possible as a sign of mourning so this new crown certainly fit the bill:
And it really is petite. Petite and sparkly! It weighs only 140 grams and is made up of 1,187 diamonds. The arches can be removed to make it a circlet as well.
And here it is atop the Queen’s head:
It has been worn by Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra, but since 1937 it has been part of the display at the Tower of London.
The Coronation Necklace & Earrings
Moving along, the next pieces that really caused some heart palpitations was the stunning Coronation Necklace:
which were shown with the stunning Coronation Earrings:
These pieces were also also made for Queen Victoria by Garrard and was completed in 1858. One of the drops of the earrings is approximately 12 carats and the other is 7. You can see in the picture that there is some difference in the ‘sparkliness’ of the two, but they are both stunning.
These pieces have since been worn by four Queens during their coronations: first up was Queen Alexandra in 1901, followed by Queen Mary in 1911, Queen Elizabeth in 1937, and of course Her Majesty the Queen in 1953.
The Queen wore the necklace in Canada with her maple leaf dress in July 2010:
And we’ll be getting to those other sparkly pieces she is wearing in short order!
Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Fan
But first, the next piece that I particularly loved seeing is one that I really knew nothing about. This is Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Fan which dates to 1902:
Now that’s a fan! Brilliant and rose cut diamonds are set into the tortoise shell handle in a beautiful, floral design topped with an “A” and coronet. No expense was spared; both sides of the handle are set with diamonds and the precise detail is quite extraordinary.
Some more of the detail can be seen here:
Queen Alexandra passed the fan along to Queen Mary, who then gave it to the future Queen Elizabeth two days before the coronation of King George VI in May 1937. A note in Queen Mary’s hand reads:
“For Darling Elizabeth in rememberance of Coronation Day 12th may 1937 from her loving Mama Mary. This fan formerly belonged to Queen Alexandra.“
Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
My fave of them all comes up next:
We went into quite a bit of detail about this tiara in our post here, so let me just say the obvious, that in real life this tiara is super sparkly and gorgeous.
Fun fact we learned: according to Garrard’s Royal Ledger, this tiara was originally surmounted by 14 large pearls and could also be worn as a necklace or as a coronet, which is how the then Duchess of York (later Queen Mary) wore it to the Devonshire Ball in July 1897. Yes, it was a costume affair:
Which reminds me, we really need to talk about that particular Devonshire Ball in another post. It was quite the evening.
The Cullinan III and IV:
The Sparkliest Award of All Award goes to this brooch:
It was really quite thrilling to see up close. As you may recall, the Queen chose to wear this brooch for the Service of Thanksgiving marking her diamond Jubilee:
There is oodles of history on this piece which we’ll have to get into at another time. Suffice to say it’s gorgeous.
The Cullinan V:
This brooch was there as well:
That centre stone is 18.8 metric carats and can also be removed and suspended from the Cullinan VIII…
The Cullinan VIII:
Which is this delightful piece we have here:
How versatile, eh? That’s the Cullinan VI dangling from it in the above picture.
The Greville Chandelier Earrings
It’s the wee hours of the morning here in London, so I will end with this last, sparkly highlight. Here we have the Greville Chandelier Earrings:
Cartier created these beauties in 1918 for Mrs Greville, a generous grand dame who left them, and several other pieces, to Queen Elizabeth when she passed away in 1942. Mrs. Greville made changes to the original design in 1922 and 1929, which is the last time any changes were made. Each earring is made up of 16 stones.
Here is another shot of the Queen wearing them in Ottawa in 2010:
Not a bad note to end on, is it?
There are oodles of other pieces on display and the exhibit runs until the 7th of October. If you aren’t able to make it, the next best thing is the book which accompanies the exhibit. It is by Caroline de Guitaut and is chock full of interesting info and pictures galore, and has proved to be great reading! It can be purchased here.
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.
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?
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!
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?
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?
The last of our aquamarine tiara postings for March, here’s something a bit different – the Orsini-Ligne Aquamarine and Diamond Wedding Tiara!
The Orsini-Ligne Aquamarine and Diamond Wedding Tiara and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge Wedding Gown Similarities
On September 7th 2009, Prince Edouard de Ligne de La Tremoille of the Belgian noble House de Ligne married the famous Italian actress Isabella Orsini in a religious ceremony in his family’s ancestral castle in Antoing, Belgium. The House of Ligne can trace its history all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire. HH Princess Isabella as she is now known wore a gorgeous aquamarine and diamond tiara with matching earrings.
Coming out of the cathedral with her new husband. They look so happy! I believe Isabella had just released a dove
As you may have noticed from the above photos, Isabella’s Gerald Watelet wedding gown bears a striking resemblance to the Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen designed wedding gown that Catherine Middleton wore to marry HRH Prince William of Wales two years later. There was some surprise in the press (and to Isabella) when the similarities were noticed (lace covered bodices with a v-neckline and lace sleeves, similar skirts and train lengths), but it seems likely that both Catherine and Isabella chose a similar royal style icon for their wedding dress inspiration – Princess Grace of Monaco. They are both gorgeous and royal wedding gowns, and suit the bride. This Royal Post-er has been enamored of Princess Grace’s wedding gown since she was 5 years old, and thinks this trend to long lace sleeves and lace adorned bodices in wedding gowns is all for the best!
It should be noted that there are many differences between Catherine and Isabella’s wedding gowns – Isabella wore a lace jacket on top of her gown, while Catherine’s lace adorned bodice was part of her gown, Catherine’s gown has significantly more detail on the waist, hips and train, and seems to be of a more elaborate construction. Interesting to see this marked trend in wedding gowns, which has now translated into the bridal design industry.
A detail of the back of Catherine’s dress, as her veil is slightly covering it in the above photo
What do you think?
Hope you enjoyed our aquamarine tiara postings for March!