30 March 2018

Royal Jewels of the Day: The Fife Tiaras at Kensington Palace

We updated the status of the Fife Tiara back in January here, after news broke in 2017 that the tiara had been given to the U.K. government in lieu of inheritance tax and was scheduled to be displayed at Kensington Palace. That display - part of the reopened Victoria Revealed exhibition - opens today (March 30) and includes not just the big diamond Fife Tiara but two other Fife family tiaras. And, well:

BE STILL MY HEART. You can check out our entry on the Fife Tiara's history here.

Historic Royal Palaces. Click to enlarge.

Here's what the exhibition press release has to say about it:
"The majestic Fife tiara, given to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise on her wedding day, is today considered one of the finest works produced by celebrated Parisian jeweller Oscar Massin, and represents the very zenith of tiara design. A gift from Louise’s husband the Duke of Fife, it comprises hundreds of diamonds ranging in weight from one to ten carats, and features a spectacular row of pear shaped ‘swing set’ diamonds, which would have dazzled onlookers when worn."
We also now have an opportunity to see those diamonds move:

But wait, there's more! As was also previously announced, the Fife estate has loaned Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara to the Victoria Revealed exhibit - plus its accompanying parure of a necklace, earrings, and brooch!

Historic Royal Palaces. Click to enlarge.
Historic Royal Palaces. Click to enlarge.

You can check out our last entry on the tiara here. And this is what the exhibition has to say:
"Comprising a magnificent diamond and emerald diadem, emerald necklace, earrings and brooch, this parure – or matching suite of jewels – showcases both the exquisite workmanship of nineteenth century goldsmiths, and Prince Albert’s own flair for design. Albert was fascinated by jewellery, and personally designed this dazzling headpiece for his wife. Created by the Queen’s Jeweller, Joseph Kitching, the tiara is set with cushion-shaped diamonds and step-cut emeralds, and surmounted by a graduated row of 19 inverted pear-shaped emeralds, the largest of which weighs an astonishing 15 carats. As a testament to Albert’s own creative talents, the pieces he designed for Victoria now constitute the only known examples of a tiara design by a consort for his Queen. Victoria, clearly delighted with the gift, wrote in her journal of her husband’s ‘wonderful taste’, and her delight at wearing this ‘lovely Diadem of diamonds and emeralds designed by my beloved Albert’.
Presented to Victoria in 1845, the tiara provided both the centrepiece and finishing touch to an existing emerald suite. It was created to complement a necklace formed of 9 oval emerald clusters, each set within a border of cushion-shaped diamonds, its accompanying pendant earrings and an impressive 20ct emerald and diamond brooch, all of which were gifts from Albert, and also go on display at Kensington Palace. Victoria would select these gems for Franz Xavier Winterhalter’s intimate 1846 painting of the royal family, for her son Prince Alfred’s christening (when she paired them with the lace from her wedding dress) and again for a striking Winterhalter portrait of 1859, which depicts the pieces in stunning detail."
A little glimpse of this tiara's sparkle, from The Jewellery Editor:

The way the light shines through those emeralds is absolutely magnificent.

And there's still more!

Historic Royal Palaces. Click to enlarge.

You can also see a classic diamond fringe from the Fife family, another piece that belonged to Princess Louise and was a gift from her parents on her marriage. Here's the press release description:
"Another of Louise’s jewels, a remarkable kokoshnik style tiara with graduated pavé-set rays of diamonds in white and yellow gold, takes inspiration from the cockscomb style headdresses of the Romanov court, and reflects the familial web created by Queen Victoria’s descendants throughout Europe; Louise could count the Emperor and Empress of Russia as cousins, while among her aunts were both the Dowager Empress and a Grand Duchess. A gift from her parents the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), its clever construction means it could be worn as a tiara or converted into a necklace, and it became one of Louise’s favourite pieces of jewellery."
Princess Louise wears the fringe tiara

Both the fringe and the emerald tiara are on long-term loan from the estate of the 3rd Duke of Fife. Victoria Revealed runs at Kensington Palace throughout 2018.