02 February 2017

Tiara Thursday: Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara

Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara
On a visit to the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy spotted a lovely diamond tiara with a flower at its center and wreath of pavé-set leaves and berries to either side. The tiara was made by French jewelry house Mellerio dits Meller, which was particularly adept at creating jewels with the natural motifs that were so popular at the time. It was on display with several other Mellerio jewels, including the Mellerio Shell Tiara now in the Spanish royal family. The Princess recommended the floral tiara to her father, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. (This is my kind of window shopping.)

The 1867 display of Mellerio jewels, the featured tiara on the left
The King's son and heir, Umberto, was to marry Margherita of Savoy-Genoa (1851-1926) in 1868, so the King bought the Mellerio diadem as a gift for the bride. Wreath designs in tiaras are nods to the wreath head ornaments of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, making this tiara the perfect gift for a future Italian queen consort.

Queen Margherita, as she became when Umberto succeeded to the throne in 1878, wore the tiara throughout her life. She often paired it with multiple strands of pearls, which was her signature style. (She was nicknamed The Pearl Queen.) Margherita was also pictured wearing the Mellerio tiara with another diamond floral jewel positioned above it (seen below).

The tiara remained with the Italian royal family after Queen Margherita's death and stayed with them when they went into exile in 1946. Queen Marie José (1906-2001), the wife of exiled King Umberto II (Margherita's grandson) and herself a Belgian princess, wore the Mellerio tiara on several occasions.

Marie José
Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara is no longer with the Savoy family. It was sold, and was last known to be a part of the Albion Art Collection. It remains a superb example of the style of its time. (Plus, it's a great why not both? option for when you're trying to make that super crucial decision between the wreath tiara and flower tiara categories. As we all must do from time to time.)

Where does this rank on your list of favorite florals?