12 July 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara

Tiaras you can play with are extra fun, and today we have just such a toy to gaze at. The central element is quite the chameleon, able to be swapped for a range of colorful stones, and it’s been called just about as many names. For our purposes, I’ll dub it the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara.
The Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara
Though it has been reported in the past to be one of the jewels purchased by Queen Mary from the estate of Empress Marie Feodorovna, it was actually made for Mary. And when you get into the details, it’s Queen Magpie all the way: first, it was compiled from deconstructed jewels, as Mary was prone to do. This includes existing diamonds, largely those taken from the dismantled Surrey Tiara, plus new stones supplied in the making of the tiara (it was made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard, circa 1913-14).
Queen Mary (with the Cullinan V and sapphire center options)
Second, it was made to have an interchangeable graduated center element, and we know how Mary liked to switch around her jewels. In this case, the diamond frame of honeysuckle or palmette motifs leads up to a larger center, which originally held either the heart-shaped Cullinan V brooch, a large sapphire and diamond brooch, or a pink topaz brooch (this one has been reported to be just about any sort of pink stone you can think of in the past). And third, true again to Mary’s form, the tiara was changed slightly with time, lowered with the removal of some diamonds from the center.
Alice, Duchess of Gloucester
Queen Mary gave the tiara to her daughter in law, Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, as a wedding present in 1935. She gave it with yet another central element: a diamond honeysuckle which matches the rest of the tiara’s motifs. Neither the Cullinan V, the sapphire, nor the topaz elements were part of the wedding gift; the Cullinan V was inherited by Queen Elizabeth, the sapphire brooch is said to have been given to Princess Margaret, and the pink topaz was finally united with the tiara when it was inherited by Alice on Mary’s death in 1953.
The Duchess of Gloucester
The Honeysuckle Tiara is now worn by the current Duchess of Gloucester, Birgitte, who is Alice’s daughter-in-law. She wears it with three different elements: the diamond honeysuckle, the pink topaz, and an emerald surrounded by diamonds. Though she has other tiaras at her disposal, this is the one she wears the most. And with this level of flexibility, it’s easy to see why!

Which is your favorite center stone option?

Photos: Munn/Getty Images/Corbis