This Week's Obsession: Tiaras
Tiaras have been worn for centuries as a symbol of status and power. The ancient Romans wore wreaths of gold to denote their social standing.
In the Medieval period crown-shaped jewels, or coronals, were worn by brides of all ranks, but it wasn't until the 18th century that tiaras as we know them today became more widely worn.
It was a fashion revived by Napoleon Bonaparte in his bid to emphasise his imperial status at the end of the 18th century. (Thank you, Napoleon!) Napoleon’s wife Joséphine ordered her tiara from Chaumet, and the Parisian jewellery house has been synonymous with head ornaments ever since, with more than 3,000 models of past creations in its archives.
Top Ten Tiara Tips
We are all queens in our right, whether we actually have a tiara on our head or not, we should move in this world as we always have one on. So, what are the rules and etiquette for wearing a tiara?
- Proper placement. Put your thumb on the dimple of your chin and your index finger on the gap in between your eyebrows. Keeping that measurement, move your thumb up to where your finger was. Your index finger should now be touching the base of the tiara in your hair. Anymore than an inch and a half from your hairline, and people will talk.
- Only put on your tiara after all hair lacquering is complete. Who wants a dull, sticky tiara? Not you.
- If you have a long face, a pointy tiara will make it look longer. If you have a round face, a rounded style will make it look more moon-like. Try on a design that is the opposite to your face shape and you will get an A-star in Tiara-ology. An invaluable qualification.
- A tiara worn with limp, centre-parted hair looks like you couldn't be bothered to groom yourself so put on the diamonds as a sort of diversionary tactic. Very bohemian. But people will notice. If you must wear your hair down, then pull the sides back over the ends of the tiara so it looks more 'settled' in the hair.
- Don't wash your hair just before wearing a tiara - day old hair, without conditioner, will offer more grip. And with tiaras, as with so many things, grip is key.
- When tiara shopping, make sure the style you pick has a long, oval frame, because a round one will squeeze your head. When placed on a table, the front of a tiara should lean forward a touch - otherwise it won't frame your face correctly.
- Inherited tiaras should be updated to suit your hair colour. Your mother was a brunette but you're a blonde? Then make sure the velvet covered base has been altered to suit.
- If you're a bride, or simply fancy wearing a veil then don't attach it to your headpiece. The weight of the veil will drag back your crown, and you will find yourself removing it far earlier in the proceedings than it deserves.
- Do not allow your hair stylist to bend the frame of your tiara to fit around a hair-do. It may break or kink in the middle, which is difficult and costly to repair. Seek professional help.
- The reason why tiaras are only supposed to be worn by brides on their wedding day or by married women is because it was seen as the emblem of the loss of innocence to the crowning of love.
Top Ten Tiaras
- Henckel von Donnersmarck Tiara - Its enormous emeralds, which total more than 500 carats, are believed to have come from the collection of Empress Eugénie of France. Although unsigned, the jewel is believed to have been made by Chaumet. At Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2011, it became the most expensive tiara ever sold at auction, fetching £7.8 million.
- Mike Todd Diamond Tiara - our favourite Covettist lady, ELizabeth Taylor, received this from her 3rd husband (nobody is counting) who said to her: ‘You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara.’
- Murat Tiara - By Chaumet This natural pearl and diamond jewel was created in 1920 by Joseph Chaumet for the marriage of Prince Alexandre Murat, a descendant of Napoleon’s sister, Caroline Bonaparte, and Joachim Murat, Marshal of the Empire, to Yvonne Gillois.
- Duchess of Roxburghe - By Cartier This Art Deco Cartier diamond tiara was a wedding gift from the Duke of Roxburghe to his bride, Lady Mary Evelyn Hungerford Crewe-Milne, in 1935. Just two years later, the Duchess was attendant to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), at the coronation of George VI.
- Pearl and Diamond Tiara - By Garrard This c. 1878 tiara by Garrard sold for £1.2 million at Christie’s London in June 2011. Typical of a tiara, the piece can be worn in different ways. The seven drop-shaped natural pearls can be detached, and the six bouton-shaped pearls can be separated and worn as brooches.
- Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Tiara - by Fabergé It was a wedding gift from Frederick Francis IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, to his bride Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland (1882-1963). His mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, a keen Fabergé collector, encouraged the Grand Duke to marry young, and the wedding was scheduled for June 1904 when Frederick was 22 years old and Alexandra, 21.
- Diamond Tiara from the Bourbon Parma Royal Collection - by Hübner - This 1912 fleur-de-lis style tiara was created by Austrian jeweller Hübner for Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, the wife of Prince Elias, Duke of Parma. It is set with diamonds that once belonged to Elias’s great-great-grandfather, Charles X, King of France (1824-1830).
- Duchess of Roxburghe Tiara - Unsigned. Not that anyone is counting but is this not her 2nd fabulous tiara? This one sold for £545,000 at the same Sotheby’s sale as the Duchess’s Cartier tiara in May 2015. It is a convertible piece that can also be worn as a necklace.
- Belle Époque Emerald, Pearl and Diamond Tiara
- Steel and Diamond Tiara - By Cartier This rare steel and diamond tiara was created by Cartier in 1912. It was a wedding gift and stayed in the same family until November 2015, when the original owner’s grandchild sold it at Sotheby’s Geneva for £353,300.