16 June 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Cameo Tiara, Revisited

As King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, it's time to revisit the tiara Silvia Sommerlath chose for her bridal diadem - a tiara that happens to be one of the most unique tiaras on the royal rounds.

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia
The Swedish jewel collection has some of the oldest tiaras still in use, and this is one such diadem. Its first owner was Empress Joséphine, the first wife of Napoleon. She likely received it as a gift from her husband around 1809, at a time when cameos were quite popular. It was probably made by French court jeweler Nitot.

The Cameo Tiara
The seven cameos used in this tiara were made first and were not intended to go together, which is why they are all different in size and color. Each is framed in pearls and they sit on a base of gold and seed pearls. As we know it today, the Cameo Tiara is part of a set including a pair of earrings, a brooch, a necklace, and a bracelet, but those pieces may also have not originally been intended to be part of a parure with this diadem.

Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway
Fredric Westin/Public Domain
Though the tiara was worn in a painting by Joséphine's daughter Queen Hortense of Holland, it ended up in the hands of the Empress' granddaughter, Josephine of Leuchtenberg. Josephine #2 brought the tiara to Sweden through her marriage to the future King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway, and it has remained there ever since.

Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway
Bertha Valerius/Public Domain
It's currently in the hands of King Carl Gustaf, but the path down the family line hasn't been a straight one: Josephine left it to her daughter Princess Eugénie, who left it to her nephew Prince Eugen. Eugen loaned it to his niece by marriage, Crown Princess Margaret, and eventually gave it to Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when she married Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932. Sibylla lent it to her sister-in-law, the future Queen Ingrid of Denmark, for a costume occasion and ultimately left it to her son, King Carl Gustaf.

Queen Silvia wears the tiara, necklace, earrings, and brooch of the Cameo Parure for the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony in 2005
Queen Silvia wears the tiara today for the occasional gala event, but not on a frequent basis. It's known to most by its status as a family bridal tiara, a tradition that began while it was still in Princess Sibylla's hands. She loaned the tiara to daughters Princess Birgitta in 1961 and Princess Désirée in 1964 for their weddings. Queen Silvia solidified the tiara's reputation as a wedding piece when she wore it to marry King Carl Gustaf in 1976. Crown Princess Victoria was the next bride to wear the Cameo Tiara, for her wedding to Prince Daniel in 2010.

Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern
Aftonbladet/Public Domain
(It's certainly not a required selection for a royal Swedish bride, though. Princess Margaretha wore a traditional crown from the church where she was married, Princess Christina wore the Connaught Tiara, Princess Madeleine wore the Modern Fringe Tiara, and Princess Sofia wore a new Emerald and Diamond Tiara).

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel
Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0)
To those of us accustomed to purely white bridal ensembles, this is an interesting change of pace. But really, it's not that surprising of a choice for a Swedish royal bride: there's something crown-like about it, somewhat echoing the Swedish tradition of bridal crowns, and the center cameo depicts the love story of Cupid and Psyche (as has been reported by the Royal Court; others say it is Venus and Cupid).

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel
Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0)
The Cameo Tiara can be a divisive diadem. Some love it, others hate it. I have a theory that you'll hate it until you find the one perfect appearance that will convert you. For me, that appearance was Victoria's wedding. The colorful tiara perfectly showcased the sublime simplicity of her dress. I'm also struck by how perfect it was that she wore the Cameo earrings and bracelet too, further integrating the tiara into her whole look without overwhelming her dress. Crown Princess Victoria has worn the necklace and brooch from the parure in the years since, but has yet to repeat the tiara (in fact, as of this writing, the tiara itself hasn't been worn since that 2010 wedding). I keep hoping she will be allowed to borrow it, as she continues to inch towards the jewels that Queen Silvia usually keeps for herself. Mostly, I just want to see it worn again.

Your turn: Love it or hate it?

Also: Here's a link to a Pinterest board with lots of Cameo appearances to examine, with thanks to The Royals and I!