17 April 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Ocean Tiara

We have mentioned this jewel in passing before, but I wanted to wait until we had good example of it in use as a tiara to give it its Thursday in the sun. And now we finally can…
The Ocean Tiara
The Ocean Tiara was a wedding gift from Prince Albert II of Monaco to his bride, Charlene Wittstock, for their 2011 nuptials. It was made by Van Cleef & Arpels, an official supplier to the Principality. A necklace that can be worn as a tiara, it was designed especially for Charlene. In honor of her background as a swimmer that went from the coasts of South Africa to the coast of Monaco, the necklace is composed of circular elements that evoke the water and foam of the ocean through more than 1,200 gemstones and more than 70 carats total.

Video: The making of the tiara, including a look at how it converts from tiara to necklace by popping each element out of the frame.
The water is depicted with 359 sapphires, chosen in three shades to create a gradation that represents the differences in ocean colors around the world. The sapphires are positioned so that they are at the bottom of the central circle when the piece is worn as a necklace – this seems to be how it is intended to be worn most of the time, as this is how the ocean motif is the most accurate – but they are at the top when worn as a tiara, meaning they stay out of the hair. (A valuable feature, considering the sapphires are pretty subtle overall.) The sea foam is depicted with white diamonds, as is the straight line base of the piece. There are more than 850 diamonds here, with a total weight of 44 carats. In the center of the largest circles sits a pear-shaped diamond representing a water droplet; these 11 stones are the biggest diamonds in the piece, the largest one weighing more than 4 carats alone.
Despite the fact that it was made for her, it has scarcely been seen in use since it was made. It has, however, been on display on several occasions and in different locations. Princess Charlene first wore it as a necklace to the Red Cross Ball in 2011, just after her wedding. She has also been seen in a pair of drop earrings which are clearly part of a set with the necklace/tiara, containing a matching ocean circle at the bottom.
She did wear the necklace as a tiara for an early portrait by Karl Lagerfeld, but it was not widely released. Therefore, our first proper look at the Ocean Tiara comes from the cover of Hola magazine, which has an exclusive interview with Charlene.
Seeing the tiara in use emphasizes just how Charlene this piece is – it is extremely well suited to its owner. Despite all its swirling features, the separation of the elements into distinct circles creates a clean line which suits the lines of the clothing Princess Charlene tends to pick. It is unmistakably modern and off the traditional path, which also happens to suit Charlene’s sartorial selections. In fact, the only rather un-Charlene thing about this is its very nature: it is a grand piece of jewelry, and she has opted out of grand jewels on more than one occasion, tending towards simplicity. It doesn’t top my list of personal favorites (I prefer the traditional, when it comes to tiaras), but I hope in time it will become an often-worn favorite of the Princess.

Does the new picture change your opinion of this jewel?

Photos: Van Cleef & Arpels/Getty Images/Reuters/Hola