24 February 2011

Tiara Thursday: The Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara

The only downside to being an ardent royal jewel fan: the secrecy. Those royal vaults are sealed so tightly, and no one wants to talk about these explicit markers of majesty - particularly not in these sorts of economic times. So we guess, and we hope that our favorite pieces have survived through the years.
This one, a favorite of mine, is one for which that hope was dashed.

On her wedding day in 1947, Queen Elizabeth II received quite the sparkly avalanche of presents. Among the spoils were a diamond tiara and matching necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad. Made by Cartier, the design is appropriately based on English roses. Three floral brooches (one large, two small) were detachable from the tiara for use as brooches. Interestingly, the Nizam left instructions that Elizabeth was to select the presents herself.
Excuse me while I quietly sob in the corner and long for the days when wedding gifts could be as over-the-top as the sender wanted, without fear of media hoopla and public backlash. Sigh.
Okay, I'm back now, and I'm ready to discuss the fate of this diadem.
(Deep breath.) For years, there was speculation that the tiara had been dismantled; it was worn while the Queen was still Princess Elizabeth, but the appearances tapered off and eventually completely ceased as the years went on. The publication of The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts ultimately confirmed that the Queen dismantled it to make this...gem:
Argh, the Burmese Ruby Tiara. Honestly, I just don't get her taste in jewels sometimes. Excuse me, I need to get my tissues again.
The rest of the set is still in use (shown above). The Queen still wears the necklace, and has recently loaned it to the Duchess of Cambridge. The brooches from the tiara are also still in occasional use. For more on these pieces, click here for my entry on the Jewel Vault.

This post was updated February 2014.

Photos: Getty Images/Cartier/Royal Collection/Leslie Field/Corbis