As Napoleon’s passionate love, Josephine, kneels before him at his coronation, she introduced two enduring jewelry designs: a woman’s laurel-leaf tiara and a comb with round stones on a stem, forever to be known as the Peigne Josephine. She is wearing the comb in the middle of her head to secure a braid. Napoleon’s laurel-leaf crown imitated Ceasar’s. But Jacques Louis David’s landmark 1804 painting allows us to contemplate Josephine as one of the great jewelry innovators of her time.
This tiara was made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard, the crown jewelers since 1843. It was made c. 1889, shortly after the marriage of the 6th Duke of Portland.
Ivy, formerly the Marchioness of Titchfield, became the Duchess of Portland when she married the 7th Duke. There is a miniature portrait of her wearing this tiara, which required several pieces of family jewelry to be dismantled for its construction.
It has 12 graduated sapphire and diamond clusters, a diamond-set openwork frame, button-shaped pearl and diamond borders, and pear-shaped pear finials. Sale price: 763,650 GBP, or $1,188,239 on Dec. 1, 2010.
Napoleon had jeweler Alexandre-Gabriel Lemonnier (circa 1808-1884) make this piece c. 1850. In the Louis XVI style, a filigree silver-gilt mount is over crusted with 1998 small diamonds. They surround much larger pearls, and give them absolute priority. The largest drop-shaped pearl in the top-most position is believed to be the “Perle Napoleon”