01 March 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Cameo Tiara

Reviewing the tiaras worn at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel brought to my attention that we've never really looked closely at Victoria's bridal tiara. Shall we take a temporary break from diamonds and do just that? (Temporary break, loves. I said temporary.)
The Cameo Tiara
The Swedish tiara collection has some of the oldest tiaras still in use, and this is one such diadem. Its first owner was Empress Joséphine, who likely received it as a gift from her husband Napoleon sometime around 1809. Cameos were much more popular back then; the seven used in this tiara were made first and were not intended to go together which is why they are all different in size and color. The popularity of the medium has faded enough today that I think we can get by simply calling this one the Cameo Tiara - it's not exactly a common thing nowadays.
Left to Right: Queen Hortense, Queen Josephine, Crown Princess Margaret, Princess Ingrid (later Queen of Denmark), Princess Sibylla
Though the tiara was worn in a painting by Joséphine's daughter Queen Hortense of Holland, it ended up in the hands of the empress' granddaughter, Josephine of Leuchtenberg. Josephine #2 brought the tiara to Sweden through her marriage to the future King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway, and it has stayed there ever since.

It's currently in the hands of King Carl Gustaf, but the path down the family line hasn't been a straight one: Josephine left it to her daughter Princess Eugénie, who left it to her nephew Prince Eugén. Eugen loaned it to his niece by marriage, Crown Princess Margaret, and eventually gave it to Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when she married Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932. Sibylla lent it to her sister-in-law, the future Queen Ingrid of Denmark, for a costume ball and ultimately left it to her son, King Carl Gustaf.
Brides, L to R: Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria
While it was in Sibylla's hands, another family tradition began: using the Cameo Tiara as a wedding crown. Two of the King Carl Gustaf's sisters used it for their weddings: Princess Birgitta in 1961 and Princess Désirée in 1964. Queen Silvia solidified the tradition when she wore it to marry Carl Gustaf in 1976 (by this time, Sibylla had passed away and the tiara belonged to the king), and now she's shared it with the first of her daughters to marry, Crown Princess Victoria in 2010.
Details of the center cameo with Cupid and Psyche, and all sides of the tiara
To those of us accustomed to purely white bridal ensembles, this is an interesting change of pace. But really, it's not that surprising of a choice for a Swedish bride: it's nearly a crown shape which echoes the Swedish tradition of bridal crowns, and the center cameo depicts the love story of Cupid and Psyche (as has been reported by the Royal Court; others say it is Venus and Cupid). The cameos are framed in pearls and sit on a base of gold and seed pearls.
Queen Silvia
The tiara is also a part of a parure, though it's unclear when the parure came together and if it was originally intended to be a set. Today that set includes the tiara, a pair of earrings, a necklace, a brooch, and two bracelets, and is worn by Queen Silvia. She doesn't opt for the cameos often, but I think it has more impact when used sparingly anyway. For a woman that enjoys putting together a whole look from hair to gown, I can see the appeal of a challenge like this tiara.

Is this unusual piece a yay or a nay for you?

Photos: BEW/Svenskdam/Daylife/Getty Images