08 March 2018

Tiara Thursday: Lady Delia Spencer’s Tiara

Lady Delia Spencer’s Tiara
This geometric tiara includes 800 old-cut diamonds with an estimated total carat weight of 48 carats. It is a flexible piece; held on the frame by small wing-topped screws, it can be removed and separated into three sections, creating a choker necklace from the center section and a bracelet by joining the two outer sections.

Lady Delia Spencer and the Hon. Sidney Peel on their wedding day
The tiara came into the family that makes it well known in 1914, when it was gifted to Lady Delia Spencer (1889-1981) by her father, the 6th Earl Spencer, when she married the Hon. Sidney Peel. (Accordingly, you will also see the Peel family name associated with this piece.) The tiara is mentioned in the Times report on the wedding, which also notes gifts of jewelry to the bride from Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria.

Embed from Getty Images
The wedding of Robin Douglas-Home and Sandra Paul
Lady Delia’s tiara was worn by Sandra Paul for her wedding to Robin Douglas-Home in 1959. Douglas-Home was Lady Delia’s nephew, a grandson of the 6th Earl Spencer. (Sliding Doors but with tiaras, maybe: Robin Douglas-Home romanced and reportedly proposed to Princess Margaretha of Sweden, but he was turned down. Later he had a relationship with Princess Margaret.)

The Spencer name gives this tiara a tenuous royal connection, because Lady Delia Spencer was the great-aunt of Lady Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales. And even though there’s no actual connection between Diana and this specific tiara, the Spencer name was all it took to turn the sale of this jewel into a headline-worthy event.

The Spencer name also increased the tiara’s price considerably. It was first sold in 2016 at Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers, where it had an original estimate of £30,000 to £40,000 and sold for £70,000, or just around $100,000. It made a few headlines as a “Spencer tiara” at that time. In 2017, it was up for sale again, this time offered at TEFAF, a prestigious art fair in the Netherlands, by Hancock’s of London. Many articles on the sale referenced Diana and this time around, the tiara's value was widely reported at $225,000 - quite a jump from original estimates. It sold on the first day of the fair, to an unknown buyer for an unknown price.

I love this piece, and its symmetrical design that keeps an antique feeling fresh and modern. With its flexibility, it would be a welcome addition to any collection – though maybe not, I think, at its highest price.

Who would you like to see try this one out?