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09 August 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Mellerio Shell Tiara

The Mellerio Shell Tiara
The Mellerio Shell Tiara resembles both a shell cradling its treasures and a rolling ocean wave, complete with pearls and briolette-cut diamonds dripping below. There’s a removable diamond drop suspended beneath in the center – highlighting the waves on the base – which is not used these days. The piece comes from famed jeweler Mellerio, whose delicate work has contributed pieces to many a royal house.
Left to Right: Infanta Isabella, Queen Victoria Eugenia, the Countess of Barcelona
This one belongs to Spain’s royals. It was originally a wedding present for Isabella, the Princess of Asturias (known as La Chata) from her mother Isabella II when she married Prince Gaetan of Bourbon-Two Sicilies in 1868. This makes it a fairly old piece in the context of Spain’s tiara collection, which features other diadems originating from the time Queen Victoria Eugenia and after. This tiara ended up in Queen Victoria Eugenia’s collection as well, as the childless Isabel left it to her nephew Alfonso XIII (Ena’s husband). It was next worn by Alfonso and Ena’s daughter-in-law the Countess of Barcelona.
Queen Sofia
Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark received the tiara as a wedding gift when she married Prince Juan Carlos, and it was finally put to good use after being a little neglected in the collections of Queen Victoria Eugenia and the Countess of Barcelona (Juan Carlos’ mother). Sofia continues to wear the piece now even though the size of her collection has increased. It goes out on loan from time to time – Infanta Cristina has worn it, Infanta Elena wore it in a portrait, Infanta Margarita borrowed it once as did Princess Letizia – but it is still mostly worn just by the Queen.
Princess Letizia
This is such a fascinating tiara. There’s barely a straight surface to be seen; the top curling towards you is the major design feature, but even the base refuses to lie flat. I think this might be the rare tiara that I appreciate more when it is not worn, just allowing it to be the artwork that it is on display. (Don't get me wrong, if it was mine I'd wear it every day). But this is one of your most requested tiaras, so you tell me:

The Mellerio Shell Tiara: Yay or Nay?

Photos: Hola/Corbis