Friday, April 29, 2011

Garland in Green

Amidst months of speculation and fervent anticipation, all eyes went to Catherine's head wear today on the occasion of her wedding to Prince William. As a commoner, she could have signaled her status by choosing a circlet of flowers like Sarah Ferguson did at her wedding in the 1980s.

In the end, Kate chose an elegant tiara that perfectly complimented her classic gown, one that was loaned; or perhaps on 'permanent loan' from Queen Elizabeth for today's royal wedding. Kate's diamond tiara is a sentimental favorite of the current Queen to whom it was a gift at the young age of 18 from her mother Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

But royal tiaras were often constructed from more than just brilliant diamonds. Personal preference or jewels popular for the era frequently played a prominent role in creating memorable headgear for the Aristocracy.

Here you see Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara, designed by her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1845. He took great care in her regal presentation, and designed at least four tiaras for his wife. Emeralds are known to be loaded with 'jardin', a pretty sounding word for natural inclusions. So they are more valued for their rarity than their clarity. Notice how well these verdant jewels look when polished into large drop shaped cabochons. It's a wonderful way to play up their vibrant color, and let the faceted diamonds do their thing.

Today the whereabouts of this striking tiara is unknown. But its likely to be in the private collection of descendants of Victoria.  She had nine children, 40 grandchildren and 37 great grandchildren.

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