17 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #6. The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara

Your next tiara has made a roaring comeback in the past few years, from a piece that had essentially vanished from the royal scene all the way up to stealing the sixth place spot on your favorite tiara list, mainly thanks to a new wearer and a few high profile appearances.

The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara
Much like your eighth place tiara, the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik has a solid shape reminiscent of the traditional kokoshnik headdress. This tiara features five large round aquamarine stones with a gorgeous deep aqua color. Aquamarines look spectacular as large stones, but they can be tough to integrate into a successful tiara design - an obstacle this tiara leaps over by using the kokoshnik shape and a delicate diamond trellis between the colorful stones. It can be paired with a matching brooch also featuring a large round aquamarine.

Princess Sibylla
The tiara is said to have come from Margaret of Connaught, first wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Her jewels were divided among her five surviving children when she died tragically young in 1920, while pregnant with her sixth child. Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha brought it into the royal spotlight in Sweden when she married Margaret's son, also named Gustaf Adolf. Princess Sibylla and Prince Gustaf Adolf - who also died tragically young, in a plane crash - had five children, the youngest of which is King Carl XVI Gustaf. Princess Sibylla gave the Aquamarine Kokoshnik and brooch to her eldest child, Princess Margaretha.

Princess Margaretha, 2010
Princess Margaretha married British businessman John Ambler and moved to the United Kingdom, leaving behind the majority of her involvement with royal events and thus taking the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik mostly out of the royal game. Her daughter wore it for her wedding day, but it went so unseen for so many years that people began to wonder if the tiara has quietly been sold. She surprised everyone - and proved the sale rumors wrong - by popping up in the tiara and brooch for Crown Princess Victoria's wedding in 2010.

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Princess Madeleine, 2015
And now the tiara has reentered the royal game. Princess Margaretha stores it in Sweden and has allowed her sister, Princess Christina, and her niece, Princess Madeleine, to wear it. Margaretha has also worn it for other family events in Sweden since 2010.

Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden
I think it's fair to say that the tiara's best showcase comes courtesy of Princess Madeleine. Aquamarine stones suit her incredibly well and she has a fair collection of them herself, including her 18th birthday tiara (the Swedish Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara) and a couple pieces inherited from Princess Lilian.

After debuting the tiara at the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in 2015, Princess Madeleine used it for one of the greatest tiara events in recent history: a tea party for sick children at the palace, for which she turned up in full on princess gear. Still one of the royal engagements worth revisiting any day. That event alone could give this tiara fairy tale status, although I think it was pretty much there already.

Does the addition of the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara to your top 10 surprise you? Did it make your personal favorites list?

16 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #7. The Poltimore Tiara

This tiara entered into the Tiara Hall of Fame thanks to just one royal wearer, and even though it has now left the royal spotlight, it's still holding strong as your seventh favorite tiara - both last time and this time.

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The Poltimore Tiara
The Poltimore Tiara, made of diamonds set in silver and gold, with cushion-shaped and old-cut stones in clusters and scroll motifs, was made by Garrard in the 1870s for Florence, Lady Poltimore, wife of the second Baron Poltimore.

The Poltimore in its necklace and brooch formats
It's a thoroughly convertible piece: the large scrolls can be worn individually as brooches, and the long rows of clusters form a necklace when taken off the tiara frame. (The tiara comes in a blue leather case with brooch fittings and a special screwdriver included, of course.)

Lady Poltimore and her tiara
The tiara entered the royal spotlight in 1959, when the fourth Baron Poltimore sold the tiara at auction for £5,500. It was acquired for Princess Margaret and she began wearing it that same year in its necklace, brooch, and tiara formats. She wore the tiara during a state visit from the Shah of Iran in 1959, which may have been its public debut.

Princess Margaret on her wedding day, 1960
The following year, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones wearing a Norman Hartnell wedding gown topped with the Poltimore Tiara. The detail of the tiara was well showcased by the divinely clean lines of her wedding ensemble, and the tall tiara both added inches to the petite bride's height and balanced the width of her veil and skirt. The tiara and the bride, at least, were a match made in heaven. From its iconic bridal outing to the end of Margaret's life, the Poltimore Tiara was the diadem with which she was most strongly associated.

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Wearing the necklace and one of the brooches with the Lotus Flower Tiara
The Poltimore is, of course, no longer with any member of the royal family. Princess Margaret's children, the Earl of Snowdon (then Viscount Linley) and Sarah Chatto staged an auction of her jewels and other possessions at Christie's in 2006 in order to pay the inheritance taxes on her estate following her 2002 death. The sale was headlined by this tiara.

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The press surrounding the sale and the royal addition to the tiara's history worked some serious magic: the Poltimore Tiara had an estimated value of £150,000 - £200,000 but it sold for £926,400 ($1,704,576). It was said at the time that the new owner was a private Asian buyer.

Wearing the Teck Circle Necklace
Princess Margaret wore a few different tiaras in her youth but was down to just three she wore in her later years, including the Poltimore. The second was the Lotus Flower Tiara, which went to the Queen and has been loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge. The third was the Persian Turquoise Tiara, which hasn't been seen since Margaret died. Meanwhile, her children are still set should they have any future tiara needs: the Teck Circle Necklace - which was used as a tiara by the Queen Mother and just as a necklace by Margaret - is with the Countess of Snowdon (who also has a wooden tiara, a playful take on tradition by her husband, whose company makes bespoke furniture and other luxury items), and the brooches that make up the Snowdon Floral Tiara have been worn by Lady Sarah. But as for the Poltimore, it has disappeared. For now.

If the Poltimore was still in the royal family, who would you want to see wear it?
and
Did it make your favorites list?

15 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #8. Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara

A kokoshnik is a traditional Russian headdress. A kokoshnik tiara is a tiara with a kokoshnik-like shape, usually with a fairly straight or solid top line. There can be many versions. But if you're talking about THE Kokoshnik, then you must mean the one, the only:

Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in 1888, when they were still the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Ladies of Society - 365 peeresses of the Realm - wanted to gift the future queen with a tiara for the occasion, so they did the reasonable thing and asked her what sort of tiara she might like to receive. Her request resulted in what I'd say is the most famous kokoshnik-style tiara in the world today.

Queen Alexandra
Alexandra's request was inspired by the jewels of the Russian imperial court, where bejeweled interpretations of traditional kokoshniks were all the rage. She would have had ample knowledge of the Russian splendor; her sister was Empress Marie (Maria) Feodorovna, who had at her disposal a staggering collection of jewelry, and her own kokoshnik fringe tiara served as inspiration.

Queen Mary
The version created for Queen Alexandra is by Garrard and has 61 platinum bars pave-set with diamonds. There are 488 diamonds, the largest two weighing 3.25 carats apiece. The tiara has been altered at least once; it could originally be worn as a necklace and originally included more bars.

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Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Alexandra died in 1925 and this tiara was inherited by her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary. When Queen Mary died in 1953, the tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. It has been in regular use by the Queen ever since. She wears it with some of her favorite diamond necklaces and earrings, and has also used its simple design as a foil for some of her more complicated colored stone jewel sets.

By Ricardo Thomas - Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library: B0570-24, Public Domain
The design of the Kokoshnik Tiara does indeed seem simple. It can even seem a little too simple in still photographs. (Some of our readers have dubbed it - lovingly, I'm sure - the Popsicle Sticks.) But the magic of this diadem comes when you see it in action. The pavé setting means that diamonds are everywhere, allowing it to capture and reflect every possible ray of light.

In motion, it's a wall of diamonds that dances under the lights. Certainly among the Queen's best diamonds, and just about as regal as it gets, I think.

Did THE Kokoshnik make your list of favorites?

14 August 2017

Royal Event of the Day: Jordan and Luxembourg at Sandhurst

A big royal gathering in Britain - hats and all - and not a Windsor in sight! That's because it wasn't a big royal to-do that brought sovereigns and more to the U.K. on Friday, it was family: Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan were among the graduates of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst taking part in the Sovereign's Parade. Military training at Sandhurst is a family tradition for both royal families; Princes William and Harry are also graduates of the academy.

Cour grand-ducale/Lola Velasco
The full floppy-brimmed crew from Luxembourg turned up in support (left to right above): Princess Alexandra, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Grand Duke Henrik, Prince Sébastien, Prince Louis, Princess Claire, and Prince Félix.

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Can it be that our fair MT has uncovered the one purple outfit that I'm just not crazy about? It can. It's that whole thing with the contrast between the pink-toned and blue-toned hues here. Nope.

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Stéphanie has no confusion about which side of her hue she wants to be on. She's as far on the Aqua Express as a person can get. Just not sure about the floaty dress with the heavier tweed jacket. About the only thing I am sure of here is that I need a great deal more information on Claire's shoes.

Queen Rania Facebook
 Jordan's crown prince also had the full support of his family (left to right above): Princess Salma, Queen Rania, King Abdullah II (who represented Queen Elizabeth II, inspecting the parade and giving a speech), Crown Prince Hussein, Prince Hashem, and Princess Iman. No hats in sight for these ladies; Queen Rania plays by her own rule book and formal hats aren't involved.

Queen Rania Facebook
Still, it seemed that she made an effort to go a little more basic than her usual style for the occasion - you can't really get more basic than a coat with a matching shoe, after all. But she had to throw in the asymmetrical waterfall hem for a little Rania touch. How else would we know it's really her?

11 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #9. The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara


Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik are delighted to welcome you to the ninth spot on our countdown of your top ten tiaras:

The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara
Your ninth pick shares some heritage with your tenth spot, the Cameo Tiara, because both come from the court of Napoleon and both have spent time in Sweden. The Danish Ruby Parure got its start as a set of jewelry bought by Jean Baptiste Bernadotte for his wife, Désirée Clary, to wear to Napoleon's coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804. The couple later became King and Queen of Sweden, taking the ruby set with them to their new country. The rubies then made their way to Denmark in 1869 as a wedding gift for Queen Louise, who was born a Swedish princess and married the future King Frederik VIII, and passed down until they landed in the hands of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. We revisited the complete story of the Danish Ruby Parure earlier this year, so click here to read up on its extensive history.

Queen Ingrid, before and after her alterations to the tiara
As the Ruby Parure made its way through the generations, the tiara began to take shape. It was originally just a set of floral ornaments which were later shaped into a slender wreath tiara. Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe's mother and the name primarily associated with the rubies until Mary came along, added a floral brooch from the set into the tiara to create the more substantial piece we know today.

The complete Danish Ruby Parure today
Crown Princess Mary continued the tradition of altering the ruby parure to suit her own needs. She changed the shape of the tiara to suit her better, creating a set of hairpins with the extra pieces. She added a ruby and diamond ring. She also added flexibility to other pieces, allowing pendants to be removed and swapped out across the parure. It's growing hard to catalog all the different ways Mary has used the Ruby Parure since she changed it, so many variations are now possible.

Between today's available variations, the multiple past tiara variations, and the many gowns the set has been paired with so far, one can't help but ask: Which Danish Ruby Parure appearance is the best Danish Ruby Parure appearance of them all?

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Crown Princess Mary in 2004
My nominations for best Danish Ruby Parure appearance begin with some of my very favorite Mary gowns, of course. Mary's not shy about pairing the rubies with a range of colorful gowns, taking full advantage of the fact that the red stone portion of the tiara is pretty small, and yet a red gown can't help but be a dream combo. This Uffe Frank dress was said to have been inspired by Queen Ingrid, who was the master of wearing allllll the rubies, so that fits. It was worn for Mary's second-ever tiara appearance...

In 2004
...and her first-ever tiara appearance also gets a nom from me. Which proves to me that Mary knew what she was doing with these rubies from day one. Impressive. (She later wore the same silvery ice blue Malene Birger gown to the New Year's Court gala in 2009, with much better hair but with only the ruby stud earrings.)

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In 2007
With my third nominee for best Ruby Parure appearance - the original appearance of that now-altered burgundy velvet Birgit Hallstein gown that I never miss a chance to fawn over - my Ruby Parure preferences are clear: the Queen Ingrid version of the tiara, please, and the full earrings and full necklace all worn at one time. I love the flexibility that Mary has added to the set and I love that she wears it so much more often since making her changes, but it means that she no longer wears all of it at one time, and man, I miss seeing the whole shebang. Alas!

What's your favorite Danish Ruby Parure Tiara appearance?
and
Did this one make your favorites list?