Category Archives: Tiara

Diamond Hair Combs and Tiaras

Tiaras have been an essential part of a woman’s wedding dowry since the Middle Ages.

As early as the 1850’s, aristocratic women bought sets of diamond sprays and brooches. Delicately set in platinum and looking like embroidery, these pieces came with different fittings such as a tiara frame, hinge for a tortoiseshell comb, or pin back. Women could be practical and wear jewelry appropriate for formal and less formal occasions.

In England, agriculture, trade, and industry flourished, so ostentatious costume displays did not ignite envy. However in France, Napoleon III lost the Franco-Prussian War when he surrendered at Sedan on September 1, 1870. This act ended the Second Empire and ushered in the Third Republic.

In a republic, French women dared not appear in tiaras at official receptions. Instead, they took pieces of the tiara and adapted them into hair combs and other items for a parure.

Here are a few examples.

The Poltimore Tiara.
Garrard’s (London jewelers since 1735) made the tiara in the 1870’s for Lady Poltimore, wife of the 2nd Baron Poltimore. Princess Margaret wore it to her wedding to photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. With a screwdriver and different fittings, it can be converted into 11 brooches and a necklace.


Here is Princess Margaret wearing it in the bath!

The Archduchess Maria Anna’s Tiara.
Sets of crescents and pear-shaped diamonds flank two tiers of diamond clusters. A lever behind the tiara can adjust the height, and it can also be taken apart to make a choker, bracelets, and pins. It was made in Vienna by Moritz Hübner in 1903.

Mellerio Floral Tiara.
Diamond and emerald roses proudly rise above the frame, but it is still a practical piece. The diamond sprays can be separated and worn as hair combs or brooches. It was made by Mellerio dits Meller c. 1850 and belonged to the descendants of Eugéne de Beauharnais: the son of Napoleon I’s Empress Josephine, by her first husband. It is so ironic that she had a son by another man, when she was Napoleon’s true love, and he had to divorce her because she could not produce an heir.

Diamond Spray Tiara, c. 1855, The British Museum.
This diamond tiara combines three branches, two oak leaves and one acorn. They are set on a frame of silver and gold. The piece comes in its original case, with two tortoiseshell hair combs, the tiara frame, and brooch fittings. It was made by Hunt & Roskell, 156 New Bond Street.

Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry Sale: The Mike Todd Tiara

In 1957, she gave him a daughter. Abandoned to love, he gave her this: Nine scrolls with larger terminals, spaced by latticework motifs, c. 1880. It sold for $4,226,500, but that doesn’t matter to me. Love is still priceless. Tiara Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit…Continue Reading

Sotheby’s Video: 500-Carat Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara

The tiara sold on May 17, 2011, for 11,282,500.00 Swiss Francs, or in today’s currency markets, $14,511,254.51. David Bennett, Sotheby’s Chairman of European and Middle Eastern Jewellery, details the provenance in a video. The emeralds were mined in 16th-Century Columbia and polished in Maharaja style. Contrasted with pale yellow diamonds, they are breathtaking. कंघी For…Continue Reading

Emerald and Diamond Tiara

This tiara belonged to Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmark, c. 1900. Forget the laurel-leaf motif at the bottom and the brilliant-cut diamonds in the center, the 11 emeralds on top total almost 500 carats. Price estimate: around $9,000,000. :-)Continue Reading

Royal Wedding Tiara

In 1936, the Duke of York (later King George VI) bought this tiara for Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, the Queen Mum. Cartier called it the “Halo” tiara. A fashion journalist also dubbed it the “Scroll” tiara. Both names stuck. Wedding costume tradition dictates “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” As her mother gifted…Continue Reading

Diamond Thoughts, Old and New

This is a modern replica of a Victorian tiara, made of 5 graduated diamond flowerheads, some have a 2- to 3-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond in the center and 2 or more carats of D flawless white diamonds, which make up the petals. There are also marquise-shaped yellow diamonds on the bandeau. It is part…Continue Reading

Elizabeth Taylor: Tiara Queen

It doesn’t matter that she had La Peregrina, the Taylor-Burton diamond, and the Vera Krupp diamond, Elizabeth Taylor had the royal presence to wear tiaras when all you noticed was her. Alexandre de Paris himself wove strands of pearls through her hair. A queen has died. Bowing my head in reverence, I offer a prayer…Continue Reading

The Innovation of Josephine

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…Continue Reading

Diamond and Aquamarine Tiara

Topped by a pear-shaped aquamarine, this tiara was owned by Princess Olga Valerianovna Paley. She was born Olga Karnovitsch on Dec. 2, 1865, married Erich Gerhard von Pistohlkors in 1884, had an affair with Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, married him without the Tsar’s approval, but then got his blessing and became a Princess.…Continue Reading