23 August 2017

Readers’ Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #3. The Dutch Sapphire Tiara

I think it’s fair to say that your third-place tiara owes its recent surge in popularity to its most recent wearer. New user, new fans!

The Dutch Sapphire Tiara  
Shown in the setting used by Queen Máxima for King Willem-Alexander’s inauguration
The Dutch Sapphire Tiara, featuring a row of large sapphires nestled at the bottom of a diamond diadem like stained glass windows beneath Gothic arches in the sparkliest cathedral ever, was commissioned in 1881 by King Willem III as a gift for his wife, Queen Emma. The detachable central large sapphire is a whopping 44 carats and the tiara features en tremblant settings, meaning that some of the stones will tremble and sparkle with every movement. Some of those large top diamonds can also be detached for use with a separate tiara worn by Princess Mabel on her wedding day, a piece often referred to as the sapphire tiara’s “second setting”.

Although the Dutch Sapphire Tiara is often referred to as the Mellerio Sapphire Tiara (including, in the past, on this blog), it was not created by the jeweler Mellerio dits Meller. The Mellerio misunderstanding seems largely due to the existence of an 1867 tiara sketch by Oscar Massin, a frequent Mellerio collaborator, which is similar in design. The Dutch royal collection also includes other Mellerio/Massin pieces, so these royals and those jewelers weren’t strangers.

But evidence that attribution was incorrect has been around for some time and has been further confirmed in recent years. In his book Mellerio dits Meller: Joaillier des Reines, Vincent Meylan confirmed that the famed French jeweler had no record of the Dutch Sapphire Tiara. Research by Dutch gemologist George Hamel, as reported by jewelry expert Erik Schoonhoven (who has in depth accounts of this backstory here and here), found the tiara is highly likely to have come from Maison van der Stichel in Amsterdam, with later alterations by Van Kempen.

Your #3 tiara meets your #8 tiara, in the U.K. in 1972
ANP Archief
By whatever name you know it, the Dutch Sapphire Tiara has been a staple for Dutch queens for generations. Queen Juliana regularly wore it with a large sapphire necklace that has since been turned into the Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara, plus other sapphire jewels from the Dutch royal collection. (There are so many sapphire pieces in the collection and the Dutch royal ladies have used those pieces in so many different combinations throughout the years, I’ve taken to just considering them all part of one enormous assembled parure.)

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Beatrix, 2006
Princess Beatrix also used the tiara regularly during her time as queen, although her hair often covered the lower part of the tiara. This was particularly true in the later years of her reign. If you conceal the lower portion of this one, you conceal the sapphires, and that’s a major change to the tiara’s look. It needed a new wearer to give it a new look.

Willem-Alexander's inauguration, 2013
One of the biggest appearances in the tiara’s 130+ year history came in 2013, when Queen Máxima chose to wear it to King Willem-Alexander’s formal inauguration as king following Beatrix’s abdication. Unlike her mother-in-law, Máxima wore the tiara higher and made sure to keep her hair out of the way, revealing the tiara’s full sapphire impact.

Máxima at the inauguration
Máxima also had the top line of the tiara altered and lowered for the occasion to create more of a kokoshnik shape (as shown in the first picture in this post) by removing an element above the central sapphire. This change was temporary, and she has since worn it in the taller format.

Combined with that magnificently regal Jan Taminiau blue dress and cape, this was the Dutch Sapphire Tiara shown off in a way it hadn’t been showcased in decades, or maybe ever. It’s no wonder it gained legions of new fans that day.

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Máxima wears the tiara in the taller version in Denmark, 2015
And it will probably gain even more fans as the years go on. Queen Máxima is converting new Dutch Sapphire admirers, and her mission doesn’t seem anywhere near complete.

Did this one make your list? Is Máxima responsible for your love of this tiara, or were you already there? 

22 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #4. The Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara

The fourth spot in our countdown of your favorite tiaras belongs to a tiara that has fallen from its second place spot last time around and has even fallen down in the rankings between your nominations and your final votes. But at the end of the day, you still can't argue with GIANT DIAMONDS.

The Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara
We revisited the history of the Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara (often called the Rose Cut Bandeau, though the diamonds are not actually rose cut) earlier this year, so click here to revisit its path from a diamond collet necklace, a wedding gift of Queen Emma's, to one of the most frequently worn Dutch tiaras.

Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana, Queen Máxima
ANP Archief/Thai Monarchy
With so many appearances to pick from - seems like it's been Queen Máxima's favorite tiara over the years; Princess Beatrix is also a fan, and other Dutch royal ladies have taken it for a spin as well - we return to the obvious question: Which Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara appearance is the best Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara appearance?

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Crown Princess Victoria's wedding, 2010
I have three nominations, and they all go to our fair Máx, because no one pays attention to their jewels quite like she does. Her appearance at Victoria and Daniel's wedding gets a nom not because of the dress - this color is neither here nor there in the saddest way - but because of the jewel combination. What should you wear with your tiara of giant diamond collets? A necklace of even more giant diamond collets, OBVIOUSLY.

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Argentina state banquet, 2017
Anyway, for a nomination on dress power alone, I don't need to go any further back in time than March. Heavenly, this. And an excellent use of a "small" tiara to balance a major necklace.

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State banquet in Belgium, 2006
My final nod goes to this one, which I think is kind of a sleeper contender for Máxima's best ever, in any category. Clean lines on the dress, crisp white gloves, even the sleek sash with no stripes or whatever to fuss it up - that's how you highlight the simple design of the Dutch Diamond Bandeau. So very well played.

Which Bandeau appearance gets your vote for best of the best? Did this tiara make your favorites list?

21 August 2017

Monday Tidbits for August 21: Back to Work, Back to School

A few royal appearances in the quiet summer scene, before we stick our heads back into the world of tiaras:

--King Felipe and Queen Letizia returned from Mallorca following last week's devastating Barcelona terrorist attacks and have visited victims at hospitals and attended a service at Barcelona's Sagrada Família. [Sky]

--In happier returns to the royal scene, the annual back to school appearances have started, including several big first days in Denmark: Prince Vincent, Princess Josephine, and (a reluctant) Princess Athena all started school this year and were accompanied by their respective parents. Both moms shared personal snaps on the royal family's Instagram as well. [YouTube, Hello, Instagram]
Kongehuset/HRH Princess Marie
Kongehuset/HRH The Crown Princess

--Some American royal (royal-ish?) news: A legal battle is brewing over control of the $200 million estate of a descendant of Hawaii's royal house. [People]

--And finally, Crown Princess Mary's most princess-y of outfits to open the Odense Flower Festival is a welcome sight in these slow summer days. This is a good repeat.
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Coming up this week: The countdown continues.

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

18 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #5. The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Queen Mary's)

The fifth spot on your favorite tiara countdown goes to another tiara that has held steady through the years, grabbing the same place this time as it did last time:

The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Queen Mary's)
It goes by the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (the name by which it has been most popularly known for decades) and Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara, but it hardly needs a title at all - it's one of the most famous tiaras in the world. (I tend to use both names, and either is welcome here.) The "Cambridge" part of the whole deal is a reference to the fact that this tiara is not an original; in 1913, Queen Mary had E. Wolff & Co. and Garrard make a copy of a lover's knot tiara once owned by her grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge.

Two different tiaras, one design: Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge and her lover's knot tiara (sold in 1981) on the left and Queen Mary and her copy on the right.
Augusta's tiara isn't unique, either; multiple versions of this "lover's knot" design exist. Augusta's original tiara passed down away from the Cambridge name and into obscurity. It went first to her daughter, Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and on down through the family until it was eventually sold at Christie's in 1981. Meanwhile, Queen Mary's continues to capture the public spotlight.

Through generations: Queen Mary (with the original top row of pearls), Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Queen Mary's version sticks to the basic design common in other lover's knot tiaras, featuring pearl pendants dangling from diamond knots in a diamond framework. Mary originally included the same row of upright pearls on top of the tiara as other lover's knot diadems (including her inspiration) have, but - in true Queen Mary form, never finished fussing with her gems - she later had the top pearl row removed.

Diana in Ottawa, 1983
Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara on Queen Mary's death in 1953 and wore it herself earlier in her reign. The tiara gained world fame when she loaned it to Diana, Princess of Wales following her 1981 marriage.

Catherine at the Spanish state banquet, 2017
It's now gaining even more fame as a loan to the Duchess of Cambridge, who first wore the tiara in 2015. (We revisited the complete history of this gem in honor of that debut, click here to refresh your memory.)

So here's the question of the day: Which appearance of this iconic tiara is the best one? Which combo of wearer to dress to hair to tiara really made it sing?

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Diana wears the tiara with the Catherine Walker "Elvis dress" in Hong Kong, 1989
Too obvious? I can't help it. It's just...*chef kiss* The whole thing! The high collar of that bolero jacket is an inspired complement for the tall, proud kokoshnik shape up top. I'd go so far as to say that the "Elvis dress" is solely responsible for my love of this tiara. That's some serious styling power.

What's your favorite CLK appearance? Did it make your favorites list?

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?