13 August 2015

Tiara Thursday: Queen Mary's Boucheron Loop Tiara

In 1901, the future King George V and Queen Mary embarked on an ambitious tour of the British Empire, the most ambitious any royal had undertaken. The eight month journey of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, as they were known for a period directly following Queen Victoria's death, took them to Canada and Australia and many places in between, including Africa. On their return at the end of 1901, King Edward VII officially granted George the title of Prince of Wales. Mary commissioned a tiara for herself not long after, displaying as Princess of Wales that love of jewelry that would be a trademark of her later years, and wasting no time putting some of the gifts of that gargantuan tour to use.
Queen Mary's Boucheron Loop Tiara
While visiting South Africa during the 1901 tour, De Beers presented Mary with a collection of 675 diamonds. In 1902, she used those diamonds to commission a tiara from Boucheron. The choice of Boucheron was an interesting one (later in her life, she would be far more associated with Garrard, the crown jewelers), and the tiara is an interesting result. It's a striking piece created from upright diamond loops filled with and separated by additional diamond motifs placed so that they appear to be floating. It's surprisingly delicate for such a tall tiara.

She wore the tiara for a series of portraits in not long after, wearing the elaborate dress she wore for the coronation of Edward VII and an array of other jewels including the Kensington Bow Brooch (now worn by the Queen), and the Surrey Fringe Tiara as a necklace (later broken up for other tiaras) underneath the elaborate diamond choker known as Queen Mary's Love Trophy Collar (which still exists, unworn in the Queen's vault).
Mary, as Princess of Wales
In true Mary fashion, the tiara didn't last long in her collection. You don't have to study the jewels of the British royal family for long to realize just how much tinkering Queen Mary did with her gems, frequently creating new designs by dismantling her old pieces, and this was to be the ultimate fate of the Boucheron Loop Tiara. Needing a new, crown-like diadem to take to India for the Delhi Durbar celebration of her husband's coronation, the new queen consort gave the Boucheron tiara to Garrard to dismantle. The diamonds were used for the Delhi Durbar Tiara (which has its own entry here).

Current home of those diamonds, the Delhi Durbar Tiara
Of all the jewelry reconfigures Queen Mary made, I think this might be the piece I'm most glad she dismantled. The Delhi Durbar is not only more in the style that I associate with her, but a more sophisticated and impressive design all around. She had a good eye, she did.

Which do you prefer: Delhi Durbar or Boucheron Loop?

Photos: Boucheron/Downey/Getty