50 Historic Tiaras Go On Display at Sotheby’s

Royalty

The exhibit includes Princess Diana’s wedding tiara and Queen Victoria’s emerald tiara

by Marion Fasel

May 19, 2022—In celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, Sotheby’s has organized a historic exhibition titled Power & Image: Royal and Aristocratic Tiaras.

Among the almost 50 tiaras on view will be the Spencer tiara Princess Diana wore at her wedding and on many other occasions. Queen Victoria’s emerald tiara and a cameo tiara made for Joséphine Bonaparte are two of the other most well-known designs in the presentation.

The Derby Tiara, probably made Skinner & Co., 1893. Photo courtesy

In an apropos bit of curation, there will be several tiaras in the exhibit worn by guests at Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation.

They include the Anglesey Tiara thought to have been made around 1890; the Derby Tiara initially created for the Duchess of Devonshire in 1893 and the Westminster Halo Tiara commissioned from Lacloche Frères in 1930 by the Duke of Westminster for his bride Loelia Ponsonby.

The Fitzwilliam tiara, circa 1820. Photo courtesy

“The sourcing of these jewels has been a labor of love, resulting in an exhibition that showcases the best iterations within the tiara style register, through some of its most famous incarnations—including the much-loved and photographed Spencer Tiara,” explained Kristian Spofforth, Head of Jewelry at Sotheby’s London. “This is also a wonderful moment for us to shine a special light on the dazzling craftsmanship delivered by generations of mainly British-based jewelers across several centuries of tiara making.”

Power & Image opens at Sotheby’s in London on May 28. The free unticketed event closes Sunday June 15. Find out more about highlight pieces from the exhibition below.

Princess Diana at a Claridge’s banquet in 1988 wearing the Spencer Diamond Tiara, Queen Mary’s cabochon emerald and diamond choker, a wedding gift from the queen, and a Royal Family Order as well as pendant earrings with emerald drops. Photo Getty

The silver and gold Spencer tiara became world-famous when Princess Diana wore it during her royal wedding to Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. She continued to wear the design happily ever after during her life as an HRH.

Like so many historic tiaras, the Spencer jewel was altered and updated as fashions changed over the years. The design is believed to have been initially created in 1767.

The Spencer tiara from Princess Diana’s family collection. Photo courtesy

During the 1930s, essential pieces of the Spencer tiara were transformed into the garland styles as it exists today.

The central portion is shaped into a heart. It is flanked by running scrolls interspersed with star and trumpet shaped flowers.

Queen Victoria depicted wearing her emerald and diamond tiara in The Royal Family portrait by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1846. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Prince Albert designed Queen Victoria’s emerald and diamond tiara (in the photo at top) in the Gothic Revival style. The crown jeweler Joseph Kitching manufactured the tiara in 1845.

It has become one of the most well-known jewels in Victoria’s vast collection because she wore the piece in the Franz Xavier Winterhalter portrait The Royal Family in 1846.

Empress Joséphine’s cameo and gold tiara. Photo courtesy

A cameo, gold and enamel diadem made in Paris around 1805 by Jacques-Ambroise Oliveras for Napoleon’s Empress Joséphine shows off the Neoclassical style the couple revived.

It features 16th and 18th century agate and jasper cameos. One depicts the head of Medusa. Another has a profile of Zeus.

Photo courtesy

An important diamond waveform tiara made by Cartier in 1904.

Photo courtesy

An amethyst, sapphire, onyx and diamond bandeau made by Cartier during the 1920s.

Photo courtesy

A diamond tiara made during the mid-19th century.

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A diamond tiara made circa 1830.

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A diamond tiara made by Carrington & Co. during the early 20th century.

Photo courtesy

A turquoise and diamond tiara made by Van Cleef & Arpels during the 1960s.

Related Stories:

Diana: Her Jewelry Story

Princess Margaret Bought Her Wedding Tiara

The Tiaras and Pendant Earrings at the Met Gala


Marion Fasel

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