21 March 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara

The Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara
One of the most impressive tiaras in the Dutch collection is known by a few different names. Many call it the Württemberg Tiara, as an oft-repeated story of its provenance states that it was one of the wedding gifts given to Princess Sophie of Württemberg when she married the future King Willem III of the Netherlands in 1839. It was thought to have been the product of German jewelers, namely A.H. Kuhn with possible later modifications by Schürmann. But a photograph of the tiara was found in the archives of Dutch jeweler Royal Begeer (and was published in Vorsten magazine), indicating that it was made in 1897 for Queen Wilhelmina and was Dutch-made. Though this may dash the Württemberg connection, I have chosen to leave it in our title here simply because so many know the tiara by that name.
Queen Wilhelmina (left and center), and Queen Juliana (right)
The tiara features an intricate design of diamonds studded with round pearls and topped by detachable drop pearls. Queen Wilhelmina wore the tiara and it has been passed down from queen to queen and/or future queen ever since. Wilhelmina's daughter Juliana wore the tiara but it was not one of her signature pieces; instead, her daughter Beatrix has made it one of her well-known pieces, and it is one of the larger tiaras she wears.
Queen Beatrix, at far left with the full version of the tiara and the rest without any of the top pearls
Beatrix has chosen to take advantage of the flexibility of the piece. In its full format, it includes 11 drop pearls standing upright in two levels at the top of the tiara, but different versions are created by using only some of those pearls (you could wear the top row or bottom row alone, or some combination thereof) or by omitting the top pearls entirely. She almost exclusively wears the tiara without any of the pearl toppers, though there are a few exceptions; two of those are her wedding day and during a glittering state visit to the United Kingdom in 1982, both of which featured the full, impressively tall tiara. Her use of the full tiara in Britain echoed her mother, who wore it during a state visit there in 1950 (pictured above).
Video: State Visit, 1982
The tiara belongs to the family foundation, but Beatrix has reserved this one for herself during her reign. With the abdication on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what happens next and when we might see it on Queen Máxima. I've always loved this tiara - it was in the running to make my personal ultimate tiara collection - but felt it can look a little spindly when in its tallest version(except on Beatrix's wedding day, when it was perfection backed by that veil). I look forward to seeing what Máxima and her jewel creativity can do about that, and would love to see the different versions come out to play once again.

What say you: too big, or just right?

UPDATE: Beatrix added the top row of pearls back for her last tiara event as Queen Beatrix, the dinner before she abdicated.

Photos: Gahetna/Getty Images/ANP/Life/Scanpix