28 March 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Brazilian Aquamarine Parure Tiara

The Brazilian Aquamarine Parure Tiara
For her coronation in 1953, the Queen received a gift of a necklace and earrings from the President and people of Brazil. The set includes large rectangular aquamarines, Brazilian obviously, set in scrolled diamond and platinum surrounds by Mappin & Webb in Rio de Janiero. The necklace features a large detachable pendant. The stones are perfectly matched; according to Leslie Field in The Queen's Jewels, it took a year to collect them. Brazil continued to collect more stones for the Queen following the first gift, and in 1958 presented her with a large brooch and a bracelet to add to the set.
The rest of the parure as it looks today (necklace, earrings, brooch, bracelet); the Queen wearing the earrings and original necklace before the tiara was made, in 1954
The Queen must have been happy with her gift, because not only does she still wear it, she decided to add to it herself. In 1957, she had Garrard make a simple tiara of a platinum bandeau set with diamonds and aquamarines and three large upright aquamarines with diamond surrounds. The uprights were detachable and could be used as brooches.
The tiara in its first format
But this is not how the tiara was destined to stay, as the Queen had more tweaking to do. In 1971, she added four aquamarine and diamond scroll ornaments around the upright pieces; these came from a jewel she was given by the Governor of São Paulo during a state visit to Brazil in 1968. (Many including myself had assumed the original São Paulo gift was a small tiara worn by the Queen once in Canada and never seen again, but this assumption was dashed when the Countess of Wessex wore the same small tiara in 2012, what I call the Five Aquamarine Tiara). The Queen also replaced the central aquamarine upright on the tiara with the large aquamarine pendant that had originally hung from the necklace. The necklace pendant was replaced with a smaller stone.
The tiara in its final format
The Brazilian Aquamarine Parure is still in use today - the tiara was last worn in Australia in 2011. She wears pieces of the parure outside of the full set from time to time, including occasional daytime appearances of the brooch (though by and large, when it comes to aquamarine brooches, she usually goes for the Aquamarine Clips.)
Pieces of the parure worn without the full set: the earrings and necklace without pendant, the brooch
Now, you know I love Lilibet, but the pieces she has commissioned during her reign...hmm. The Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara stands with the Burmese Ruby Tiara on my list of least enjoyable tiaras. I don't think those added scroll ornaments are the best match for the rest of the parure from Brazil or for what the tiara had going on in the first place. No doubt it needed something between those uprights, but this would not have been my choice. And while the stones are magnificent, I think it serves as proof positive that there is such a thing as a stone too big for tiara use. Clunky: that's my final verdict.

What's your verdict? If the tiara were yours, what would you change?

Photos: Getty Images/Royal Collection/Corbis