December 6, 2022

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Singularly dandy shopping

50 historic tiaras in new Sotheby’s exhibit!

Hello, my darlings. It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to leave you for so long! I have been busy taking care of myself and I am happy to tell you that after years and years of mysterious health issues, I have finally found both my true diagnosis and a doctor who is actually able to help me feel better. It is still going to be a long road but I’m so happy to have answers and support. If you’re interested, you can read my health update on Instagram.

I couldn’t think of a better way to return to this blog than with a glorious parade of historic tiaras, and the universe has provided! So without further ado, let us go down to tiara town.

Three more historic tiaras from the upcoming Sotheby's exhibition

In honor of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a celebration honoring the Queen of England’s reign, Sotheby’s has gathered together a display of nearly 50 extraordinary tiaras, including many examples with British and European royal provenance. The exhibition is called Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras and it opens to the public in just a few days, so pardon me while I frantically Google flights to London.

This will be the largest exhibit of tiaras to be held in the UK for 20 years. Highlights include the rarely-displayed Spencer Tiara, which Lady Diana wore on her wedding day 40 years ago; and Queen Victoria’s emerald and diamond tiara, which was originally purchased for her by Prince Albert in 1845.

I don’t have a photo of every single one of the exhibition’s historic tiaras, but I can show you 17 of them!!! Shall we dive in?

A diamond tiara, Carrington & Co., early 20th century,Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

First we have an extremely lovely, romantic tiara that would be perfect for a royal wedding. Look at that heart motif! My favorite element is actually the little geometric arches beneath the bottom of each heart. It’s such an elegant use of negative space and the perfect foil to the elaborate designs above.

This tiara was created by Carrington & Co. and dates to the early 20th century.

A gold, cameo and enamel diadem, Jacques-Ambroise Oliveras, circa 1805, some cameos possibly ancient,Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This is one of the coolest historic tiaras in this entire exhibit, IMHO. It was made by Jacques-Ambroise Oliveras in 1805. It’s gold with absolutely stunning braided detail highlighted with blue enamel and featuring several exquisite cameos.

Experts suspect that some of these cameos actually predate the tiara’s creation; they may even be ancient artefacts that the jeweler incorporated into his design.

A diamond tiara, circa 1830, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This diamond tiara has such a wonderfully dramatic silhouette that it almost has a kokoshnik feel to it. It’s formed as a wreath of diamond leaves holding up a large center diamond, framed by a border of diamonds on each side.

This late Georgian beauty dates to 1830.

An amethyst, sapphire, onyx and diamond bandeau, Cartier, 1920s,Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This is one of my personal faves, which makes sense, because it was made by one of my favorite jewelry houses at the height of one of my favorite aesthetic eras. Yes, it is 1920’s Cartier. And it features colored gems! It has amethyst, sapphire, and black onyx, in addition to diamonds. Technically the way this piece sits on the head means it’s a bandeau, but we’re calling everything tiaras today.

It’s just the right amount of tiara for casual princessing. I’d want a more dramatic one for my own wedding or an important event, but I could see this being a fave for occasions of medium importance.

An important diamond waveform tiara, Cartier, 1904, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

A wonderfully dynamic take on the classic tiara, this important diamond waveform tiara was created by Cartier in 1904. It’s an exquisite example of the Edwardian era’s love of nature-inspired motifs and airy platinum designs.

Look closely and you’ll notice that those large round diamonds are actually suspended by links of chain, so they would tremble with the wearer’s movements. How cool is that?

An historically important emerald and diamond diadem, Joseph Kitching, 1845, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This is the emerald tiara I mentioned up above. It was created by Joseph Kitching as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in 1845. At the time, he paid for £1,150 for it.

Isn’t it glorious? I can’t get over the beauty of those luminous, luscious emerald drops. They’re so satisfyingly bulbous and I bet they catch the light magnificently.

A gem-set silver bandeau, circa 1920, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This whimsical, nature-themed beauty is a gem-set silver bandeau, from the 1920. This early Art Deco era tiara makes me want to frolic through a field wearing a flowing dress.

The Spencer Tiara, Garrard, mid-1930s, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This is the Spencer Tiara, which I mentioned up top. It is Princess Diana’s legendary wedding tiara, which hasn’t been displayed to the public since the 1960s! This beauty is reported to have been initially created in 1767 and handed down through generations of the Spencer family. The current incarnation was finalized by Garrard in the 1930’s.

It’s a classic diamond tiara with major princess vibes.

A turquoise and diamond parure, Van Cleef & Arpels, 1960s, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

Turquoise tiara!! This vibrant blue beauty is one of the latest historic tiaras in this exhibition. This mid-century charmer is part of a parure created by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1960s.

How luscious are those turquoise stones?? And such a dreamy color.

A diamond tiara, mid-19th century, Sotheby's Tiaras 2022

This whimsical, floral beauty is another one of the Victorian era pieces in this exhibition of historic tiaras. This one has a figural design that makes it look as though the wearer has wreathed themselves in sprigs of diamond flowers.

This lovely tiara dates to the mid-19th century.

A diamond tiara and necklace, second half of the 19th century, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This piece has the distinction of being the only historic tiara I’ve seen from this exhibition that is not displayed in tiara form. This is a convertible tiara/necklace combo, displayed here in necklace form. I would absolutely love to see it as a tiara – those dramatic diamond elements would be so cool standing up on a tiara frame – but it’s a gorgeous necklace, too.

This diamond tiara and necklace dates to the second half of the 19th century.

The Fitzwilliam tiara, circa 1820, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This memorable beauty is the the Fitzwilliam tiara. It’s a wonderfully exuberant design with a floral motif accented with ribbon designs, all in diamonds. The flowers look almost like fireworks to me, joyfully exploding away from the tiara frame.

The Fitzwilliam tiara was made in 1820.

A silver-gilt coronet, Garrard & Co., 1838, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

Another one of our historic tiaras that isn’t technicallyyyyy a tiara, this silver-gilt coronet was made by Garrard & Co. in 1838. Doesn’t it look like it’s straight out of a fairy tale? I love this one and I want to know who the “W” was for.

The Derby Tiara, probably Skinner & Co., circa 1890, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This is the Derby Tiara. Its exact origin isn’t known, but it is believed to have been made by Skinner & Co. in circa 1890. It bears a classically regal silhouette and an abstract foliate motif of lotus flowers and buds depicted in luscious old cut diamonds.

A cultured pearl and diamond tiara, early 20th century, Tiaras exhibition at Sotheby’s, June 2022

This cultured pearl and diamond tiara is about as classic as a historic tiara can be. It is tall and proud, worthy of any queen. This beauty dates to the early 20th century.

And that’s all for now, my darlings! You know I’m going to ask the hard question: which if these historic tiaras is your very favorite??

I’m super excited about this exhibit, even if I’m not going to be able to see it in person. If you’re in London, please go see Sotheby’s Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras exhibition and tell me all about it!

If you want more tiaras, please visit my tiara archive here or my tiara Pinterest board here.

Three historic tiaras from the upcoming Sotheby's exhibition

Sotheby’s Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras exhibition will take place in London from May 28 – June 5, 2022. For more information, please visit the Sotheby’s website.

All images c/o Sotheby’s.