08 September 2011

Tiara Thursday: The Greville Tiara

Today's Tiara Thursday is another special request, this one by reader Melissa. Reader Melissa thinks it looks like a "diamond-studded wastebasket". Does it? You be the judge:
I've called this one the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara for a long time, but its "official" name (the one used in publications from the Royal Collection) is the Greville Tiara. It was made by Boucheron for the Hon. Mrs. Greville (a well-known society maven) in 1921 out of stones salvaged from another tiara. Having no heirs of her own, she left her considerable jewel collection to Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) when she died in 1942. King George VI was a little uncertain about accepting the jewels, so the inheritance slept in the vault for a few years before Queen Elizabeth began wearing the tiara.
Queen Elizabeth wearing the tiara before the alteration
She had Cartier make it bigger, bless her heart, by adding a little variation to the top line and finishing it off with a marquis-shaped diamond in the center. A change for the better, if you ask me: it needed some pizazz to take it from "fortress of diamonds" to "fortress of diamonds with a fancy fence on top". The latter is much more interesting, clearly.
The alteration: before and after
The Boucheron was destined to become one of her favorites. Indeed, in the Queen Mother's later years, it was one of only two from her collection that she wore publicly.
Queen Elizabeth wearing the tiara after the alteration
When the Queen Mother died, her jewels passed to Queen Elizabeth as a sovereign to sovereign inheritance (a handy way to avoid taxes, you see). The Queen has now doled this tiara out to the Duchess of Cornwall, which is a nice nod to the grandmother Prince Charles loved so much. She first wore it for her third tiara appearance, in 2006, and it's been her go-to tiara ever since.
The Duchess of Cornwall
I wasn't a big fan of this tiara until Camilla started wearing it. It does have a bit of a basket feel to it, and it's one of those pieces that's surprisingly modern for its time. The Queen Mother had a tendency to wear it alongside more traditional pieces, such as Queen Alexandra's pearl and diamond wedding necklace (center photo, Queen Mother collage above). Camilla, on the other hand, has a fairly modern necklace stash that pairs particularly well with this tiara.
Speaking of diamond fortresses...Camilla with the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara and the Greville 5-strand diamond necklace, from the same inheritance
Every time Camilla wears this, someone tuts because this baby is bigger than all of the tiaras the Queen favors, and gasp - how dare she out bling the boss lady! And I tut right back, because the Queen is in charge of the jewels. She lends them out; if it bothered her, Camilla wouldn't be in such a major piece. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the story. Besides, Cam's the only one in the family with hair massive enough to structurally support this thing.

So, what's your verdict: diamond wastebasket, or not?

Update: This entry was renamed to Greville Tiara in 2013.

Photos: operagloves.com/queensimages.com/Corbis/Norman Parkinson/Fiona Cowan/National Portrait Gallery/Boucheron/Geoffrey Munn/Life/smh.au/AP/Daily Mail