Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tiara Tuesday: Oriental Circlet

Following the Diamond Jubilee celebrations – we have the Oriental Circlet.


Prince Albert made this tiara for Queen Victoria, this piece made by Garrard in 1853 for around £860. It's a big tiara: the original diadem consisted of more than 2,600 diamonds with opal accents, all set in gold. Opals were one of Albert's favourite stones, and after receiving this tiara Victoria commissioned an opal necklace, earrings, and brooch to go with. The opals have since been replaced with rubies (and you will accordingly sometimes see this referred to as the Indian Ruby Tiara or even just the Indian Tiara).


Many changes have occurred since the tiara was created. For the initial design, Victoria supplied around half of the diamonds from her existing collection. The Hanover diamonds were removed in 1858 and replaced by a mix of diamonds taken out of other royal jewels and new ones from Garrard.

Queen Victoria left this set to the Crown in her will, and when Queen Alexandra inherited it after Victoria's death she changed it again. Apparently believing opals to be unlucky, she replaced them with rubies from a necklace given to Queen Victoria by the ruler of Nepal. She also reduced the size of the tiara: there were originally 17 opals and arches, but only 11 rubies and corresponding arches exist on the piece today. For all the changes she made, the tiara doesn't seem to have been a favourite of Queen Alexandra - well, at least enough of a favourite to wear for portraits and the like - and the same goes for Queen Mary. It passed to Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) when her husband inherited the throne, and she finally made good use of the revised tiara.

The Queen Mum7

Despite having multiple tiaras to choose from, the Queen Mother used only two in her later years. She often paired it with the magnificent set of huge rubies which was once set with opals, just like the tiara, and was also left to the Crown by Queen Victoria.When the Queen Mother died in March of 2002, the tiara passed to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth, along with the rest of her estate. This is one of the pieces that she technically could have asked for earlier - after all, it was left to the Crown, and she's been in charge of the Crown since 1952 - but she let it be, supposedly saying "Mummy will give them back."

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth debuted the tiara during a state visit to Malta in 2005 - and we've not seen it publicly since (despite my fervent wishes that she'd swap in this one and swap out the Burmese Ruby Tiara in her regular tiara rota).

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