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]
CasaReal

--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?

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?