05 December 2012

My Ultimate Tiara Collection: Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara

The tiaras designed by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, are among my eternal favorites (see: the Sapphire Coronet, and the Oriental Circlet). Today, we add an emerald tiara to the mix.
Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara
Made of emeralds and diamonds set in gold and designed by Albert in the Gothic Revival style he handled so well, Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara was made in 1845 by Joseph Kitching for £1,150. It features upright cabochon emeralds atop a base of scrolls, and seems to encircle the head, nearly or completely (it may have later been shortened or otherwise altered).
Winterhalter, The Royal Family in 1846
Its use in one famous portrait has made this one of Albert's more recognizable designs - despite the fact that there are few images of it in existence. Queen Victoria famously wore the parure for Franz Xaver Winterhalter's The Royal Family in 1846, portraying the Queen and her young family. In this work, Victoria can be seen wearing a parure including earrings and three brooches which match the tiara, though she was also painted in this tiara with other emerald jewels.
Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine
This was not one of the pieces Victoria designated as Crown property, and like her sapphire tiara, it remained with her descendants but not with the main royal family. She loaned it to her granddaughter Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine in the 1880s; on that occasion, it was worn around a cap likely as part of a costume. Decades later, the tiara was worn to the State Opening of Parliament in 1960 by the then-Duchess of Fife. (The Fifes - perhaps you remember from our previous mega-tiara discussion - are descended from Queen Victoria via her granddaughter Princess Louise.) It was exhibited in 1997 and included in Geoffrey Munn's book Tiaras: A History of Splendour, in which he only identifies the owner by saying that the tiara "survives intact in the hands of a descendant of Queen Victoria".
Queen Victoria (left); the Duchess of Fife in 1960
This is my favorite emerald tiara. It's oh-so-emerald, and I do like a colored gemstone tiara that commits to its color. I love a taste of the Gothic, and this is exceptionally well designed and well proportioned. And I can't help but think it would be a great accompaniment to the Cambridge emeralds in the Queen's possession...not that it would ever make it back that way. (Luckily, when one is composing an imaginary tiara collection, such obstacles are easily hurdled.)

Would this make your ultimate tiara collection?

Photos:  Geoffrey Munn, Royal Collection, British Pathe