15 March 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Ruby Peacock Tiara

Last week, a tiara lost; this week, a tiara found. ("Lost" and "found" meaning only to us outsiders, not to those in the know, of course.)
The Ruby Peacock Tiara
In 1897, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands commissioned Johann Eduard Schürmann & Co. to make a diamond and ruby tiara using rubies that once belonged to Queen Sophie, the first wife of Wilhelmina’s father Willem III (Wilhelmina's mother was Queen Emma, Willem's second wife). The result is this tiara filled with swirls around a central element resembling a peacock tail.
Queen Wilhelmina
The Peacock Tiara is part of a parure (a set) which came together over the course of several years. The parure includes a rather grand necklace which is essentially the tiara's mirror image, a huge brooch, bracelets, and earrings. Additionally, the peacock motif is removable and can be worn as an aigrette.
Some elements of the parure, left to right: Princess Irene wearing the peacock element as an aigrette, Queen Juliana wearing the necklace as a necklace and as a sort of a tiara, Queen Beatrix with the brooch
Wilhelmina's daughter, Queen Juliana, wrapped most of the family's jewels up safely in a family foundation to prevent dispersion of the collection. But before she could do that, Wilhelmina apparently gave this tiara to Princess Irene (Juliana's second daughter and Wilhelmina's granddaughter).
Princess Irene
Irene wore it often in the early years of her marriage to Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, but she'd stopped using it by the time she divorced in 1981. Though other parts of the parure remained in use (the brooch stayed with the main family line and was worn by Queen Beatrix, for example), the tiara went missing. For decades, it was unseen. Many just assumed that Irene had sold it for funds at one point or another. And then, like magic, my favorite magpie brought it back to life.
Princess Máxima and the tiara's reappearance
Princess Máxima surprised everyone by popping up in the Ruby Peacock Tiara in May of 2009 during a state visit from Sweden's royal family. She's now worn it a couple times, and Beatrix has worn it too - certainly giving the impression that it has made its way into the family foundation.
Queen Beatrix and Princess Máxima
Today, the peacock parure is used in conjunction with the other family rubies, the Mellerio Ruby Parure. Parts and pieces are mixed and matched at will by the royal ladies and all together it makes an impressive and extensive collection of rubies. Personally, I'm on the fence about this one - its success all depends on the angle, how far back it's tilted, to me - but the fact that there are so many options to switch accessories up between parures is a huge plus.

Are you a fan of the Peacock Tiara?

Photos: Corbis/Zimbio/Dutch Royal House/Dutch Photo Press