04 September 2014

Tiara Thursday: Princess Fawzia's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara

Princess Fawzia's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara
The 1939 wedding of Princess Fawzia of Egypt (1921-2013, daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and Queen Nazli, sister of King Farouk) and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (then the crown prince of Iran, the son of Reza Shah, and soon to become the Shah himself) was an elaborate affair, and this elaborate tiara was commissioned for the occasion by the bride's family. Van Cleef & Arpels finished the tiara (and its accompanying parure of jewels) in 1938. Made of diamonds set in platinum, the tiara features two rows of upright pear-shaped diamonds, each underlined by multiple rows of baguette-cut diamonds. The design is a rather exuberant arrangement of carat power, quite distinctly in the Van Cleef & Arpels style. And it certainly is overflowing with carat power: the 54 pear-shaped diamonds weigh 92 carats all together, and the 530 baguette diamonds add another 72 carats to the piece. The set also included a double row necklace of baguette and round diamonds and two pairs of earrings.
A design like this could be overpowering, but given Fawzia's striking Hollywood beauty, that was never a concern. She wore the tiara in the course of her duties as a member of the Persian imperial family and as Queen, but she didn't last long in Iran. The marriage was a match of political and dynastical advantage conceived by the groom's father; the bride and groom were teenagers who hadn't really met until the nuptials were underway. They had one daughter together, but Queen Fawzia never adjusted to life in Tehran. She was depressed, and her health suffered to the point that she shocked the Egyptian court representatives that had been sent to check on her. She departed for Egypt to convalesce and never returned, eventually obtaining a divorce that was finalized in Iran in 1948. Princess Fawzia married again in 1949 and had two more children. The Shah would marry twice more.
Fawzia and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. She is wearing the double row necklace that is part of this parure in addition to a longer diamond necklace.
This set of jewelry apparently returned to Egypt with Fawzia. It was not part of the crown jewels of Iran that remain, following the overthrow of the Shah, in Central Bank of Tehran today. Jewels from the Egyptian royal family were confiscated after their monarchy was brought down, but the set seems to have escaped that fate too, at least. Princess Fawzia died in 2013.

Are you a fan of this modern design?

Photos: Van Cleef & Arpels, Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons/سبأ