17 May 2017

Tiara Thursday (on a Wednesday): Grand Duchess Hilda’s Tiara

Your weekly tiara’s coming at you a day ahead of schedule! This diadem has been in the news recently, because there's nothing quite like a juicy jewel theft to grab some attention.

Grand Duchess Hilda's Tiara
Badisches Landesmuesum
Made in the early 20th century by German jeweler Schmidt-Staub, this tiara is a classical design featuring a diamond ribbon undulating between swags of laurel wreaths, with a triple tier base and the solid top line of a kokoshnik shape. The platinum and gold diadem includes 367 brilliant diamonds in an à jour setting, meaning the back of the setting is left open to allow the maximum amount of light to filter through the diamonds. There are also diamond pendants in the design, another feature that will pick up extra light. Light makes diamonds come alive, so the tiara must have been far more spectacular in use than it ever could be in a photograph. (That's almost always true anyway, but especially with construction like this).

Grand Duchess Hilda
The tiara was commissioned for Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden (1864-1952), who was the daughter of Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg. Although the exact timing of the tiara’s commission is unknown, it was likely created around 1907 for Hilda for her husband’s coronation as Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden. The couple were the last Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Baden; they were deposed in 1918, along with the rest of the German monarchs.

Princess Editha
Hilda, who had no children of her own, gave this tiara to her niece, Crown Princess Antoinette of Bavaria (1899-1954). Antoinette’s daughter, Princess Editha of Bavaria (1924-2013), was the last known family member to wear the tiara publicly. Grand Duchess Hilda’s Tiara was first sold in 1973; later, in 1984, it was purchased by the state-run Badisches Landesmuesum in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Badisches Landesmuesum
The museum placed the tiara on public display, where it remained until a couple weeks ago. On April 29, museum staff got an unfortunate shock when they discovered that the tiara was missing. It had been taken from inside its locked display cabinet in the museum's throne room. The stolen tiara has been valued at $1.31 million (€1.2 million), and the Baden-Württemberg police are still seeking any information about the theft. You don't often hear about stolen tiaras being found intact, but let’s hope this one finds its way back home.

What grade would you give this grand diadem?