23 April 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Ansorena Princess Fleur de Lys Tiara

For at least five years before we ever saw it in action, there were reports of this tiara’s existence. It was said the Princess of Asturias (as Queen Letizia was at the time- hence the Princesa name many articles have given it this week, and the name we’ll use here) had been given a new tiara in diamonds and pearls, with a detachable diamond fleur de lys brooch in the center – the only portion that had actually been worn. Spanish jeweler Ansorena, who made the tiara, commented on its creation and pictures were published. But as the years went on and the tiara remained unused, it started to seem like some kind of mythical, somehow imaginary jewel…which only made its final debut last week an even sweeter surprise.
The Ansorena Princess Fleur de Lys Tiara
The reports were finally proven correct at the gala dinner in Copenhagen for Queen Margrethe’s 75th birthday. The tiara is indeed a creation of pearls and diamonds, set in 18 carat white gold. There are 450 diamonds forming a base of looping swirls and the center fleur de lys motif, and the diadem is topped with 10 large Australian pearls, selected from 3,000 gems to get just the right pieces for the tiara. The fleur de lys is a Bourbon symbol and part of the King’s coat of arms, and Queen Letizia likes to use the diamond brooch with her ribands for state banquets and other gala occasions.
It was made by Ansorena (other Ansorena tiaras have used the same loop design) and it’s not the only Ansorena fleur de lys tiara in the Spanish royal collection. The best known example is the biggest piece available to Spanish queens, a wedding gift from King Alfonso XIII to Queen Victoria Eugenia in 1906. Letizia’s version doesn’t have quite such a cut-and-dried gifting story.

Creating the tiara was Ansorena’s idea, a notion that came to the then-head of the family-owned company while he watched Felipe and Letizia’s 2004 wedding. He decided the new princess should have a tiara and set about designing one, considering other designs and even the use of aquamarine stones before deciding on the final model. Most Spanish reports I've read since the tiara’s debut seem to have settled on it as a gift from King Felipe VI to Queen Letizia for the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary in 2009, purchased for an estimated 50,000 euros, but earlier accounts indicate that Ansorena gave it to the royal family. From the actual giver of the gift to the timeline (it was made earlier than 2009, some say it could have been given as early as 2007 or so, and Letizia has been wearing the brooch portion since at least 2008) to whether or not Felipe had any input in the design, the details vary from one article to the next.
Wearing the brooch
When I first wrote about this tiara in 2011, I said that I suspected that the ambiguity surrounding the tiara's origin suited the royal family just fine, because while accepting lavish gifts is dicey territory, so is the purchase of new jewelry when your country's economy is struggling. Certainly the economic issues Spain has been dealing with coupled with the harsh criticism the royal family can draw are likely reasons behind the delay in the tiara’s appearance, as well as Letizia’s choice to give it a “soft opening” of sorts at a foreign royal event.
We’ve seen a slow and steady increase in her use of jewels since Letizia became the queen consort. The Danish banquet brought not only the new tiara, but a double clip-style brooch she hadn’t been seen in previously, her Cartier diamond bracelet, and even a Bulgari ring said to have been a gift from Felipe after the birth of one of their daughters. I was never quite sure what to make of the new tiara, and I’m still not sure even now that we’ve seen it – it does look much better in use than I thought it would and it sits nicely on her head, though the design overall is not a favorite. Still, I am glad to see it and to see her have a tiara that is her own and not one tied to any other member of the family.

It’s been a week since the big debut and I'm sure you've been thinking of nothing else since, so let’s have your verdicts…

This tiara: A winner, or no?

(By the way, if you need to see it in action again before making your judgment – you know, for science purposes – here’s part 1 and here’s part 2 of the dinner on YouTube.)

(And also by the way, no second post today!)

Photos: Ansorena, and via Getty Images as indicated