12 November 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Downton Abbey Wedding Tiara

Many of the tiaras seen on popular period drama Downton Abbey are finely made costume pieces, still just as delightful to see sparkling away on the screen with those signature elaborate costumes. But for one of the most important tiaras to feature in the show, they went for the real deal. And as the fictional world of the Earl and Countess of Grantham and their Crawley family draws to a close, we're looking at that important diadem.
The Downton Abbey Wedding Tiara
A garland of pavé-set old-cut diamond leaves runs across this Georgian tiara, a dainty diamond floral cluster separating each leaf. The basic version of the ever-popular floral or wreath tiara can also be removed from its frame and worn as two brooches. It dates from around 1800 and contains approximately 45 carats of diamonds in silver with a gold mount. The tiara is owned by London jeweler Bentley & Skinner, who hold Royal Warrants from the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and is currently offered for sale at a price of £145,000.
Princess Louise
The origins of this tiara may have a British royal connection. A Daily Mail article stated the tiara was a wedding gift to Princess Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife (1867-1931), who was the eldest daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. She married the 6th Earl Fife in 1889 and she did indeed have a floral tiara featuring a garland with a large center bloom; Royal Magazin identifies that tiara as a combination of brooches and flower sprays given as wedding presents from the Earl Fife's best man and the Sassoon family. (Bentley & Skinner's site doesn't mention this provenance, though.)
Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael)
Royal connection or not, the tiara's claim to fame today comes from television, because Downton Abbey borrowed the tiara from Bentley & Skinner to play the role of a family wedding tiara. It was worn by two of the three fictional Crawley daughters, Lady Mary and Lady Edith, as the perfect accompaniment to their 1920s wedding looks.
The tiara in its case and as brooches. Click here for a video on the jeweler that features this tiara.
You could wear it the same way for your wedding, if you have the cash: Bentley & Skinner still offer the tiara for sale, and have also offered it for hire (though it will cost you upwards of $2,000 a day plus a deposit in the price of the tiara). You can see the tiara and many other goodies from Bentley & Skinner - beware your wallet - here.

Does this have a place on your list of favorite floral tiaras?

Psst: While the finale has just aired in the UK (with only the Christmas special to go), the final season has yet to air in the US. Do be kind and avoid any spoilers for those still waiting for their last Downton fix!

And psst: As usual, we are back to two post days on Thursdays.

Photos: Bentley & Skinner / Carnival Films and Television Limited for Masterpiece / Snapshot Cafe screencap