The Timeless Elegance of Tiaras

The Timeless Elegance of Tiaras

On the heels of a spectacular exhibition in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Jubilee, two stunning tiaras will be presented for auction at the Important Jewels sale in Hong Kong. In advance of the event in July, we revisit the timeless beauty of the tiara, the most regal of adornments in a jewellery collection.

A s part of the Jubilee Season, a month-long programme of exhibitions, auctions, and events celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, Sotheby’s held the largest tiara exhibition staged in Britain in the past 20 years – paying homage to one of the most symbolic signifiers of the monarch’s perennial style: the tiara. The exhibition featured more than 50 tiaras of aristocratic and royal provenance, including pieces that were exhibited publicly for the first time.

With some 50 items on show, the exhibition featured the most established design styles within the tiara genre, including Napoleonic Empire, Romantic Naturalism, Belle Epoque, Art Deco, Modern and Contemporary designs. Among the most special pieces within the exhibition is the historic Spencer Tiara, worn by one of the most influential members of the Royal Family past and present. A further highlight is an Emerald and Diamond Tiara designed by Prince Albert in his favoured Gothic Revival style for his wife Queen Victoria in 1845, crafted by crown jeweller Joseph Kitching.

In April of this year, Sotheby’s sold a beautiful Cartier diamond tiara from the 1930s originally owned by the late Lady Smith, wife of Sir John Smith. He was a well-known banker and philanthropist who was prominent for many decades in heritage organisations which were dedicated to saving outstanding British architecture. He and his wife Christian Carnegy shared a passion for art and heritage, and the couple founded the Landmark Trust. Lady Smith wore the tiara as a form of a necklace on grand occasions held for the Queen at the Buckingham Palace, as well as several State Openings of Parliament and State Banquets.

In July, the upcoming Important Jewels sale features two more notable tiaras. Collectors will want to take note of a late-19th century diamond tiara designed as a floral wreath embellished with old European-, old-mine-, and rose-cut diamonds. The exhibition on the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee displays the close association of tiaras with crowns and other royal regalia but, throughout history, they have taken many forms. The tiara presents an example of jewellery that is emblematic of social standing and timeless elegance.

Since antiquity, adornments for the head has held special meanings across different cultures and civilizations. From humble materials such as flowers and leaves made into wreaths for loved ones, to precious metals and magnificent gems that graced the heads of kings and queens – the celebration of the diadem has been universal throughout history, often symbols of rank and honour.

While the format is grand in character, charmingly, many of the finest examples throughout history have been inspired by the humblest natural elements – sprigs of flowers, ears of wheat, clusters of leaves, shells and waves. Another beautiful 19th century tiara of ruby, pearl and diamonds was likely inspired by the form of palmate maples, depict the color of the red leaves through highlights set in rubies. The stunning piece can be worn as a necklace and is accompanied by an original fitted box for the jewel. Whether naturalistic designs or stylised Art Deco geometries, tiaras, coronets, circlets and bandeaus represent the embodiment of intimate artistry for the wearer and their legatees. Passed down through families, they look as much towards future generations as the chapters of their own illustrious past.


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