Here are some of the grandest tiaras ever worn and the stories behind them.
The Baden Fringe Tiara
(also known as the sunray or sunburst tiara and by other names) It originates with a previous Victoria, Princess Victoria of Baden (1862-1930), later Queen Victoria of Sweden. It was a wedding gift from her parents, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Baden, when she married Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway (later Gustaf V) in 1881. The tiara is one variation on the popular diamond fringe style, with 47 diamond-shaped rays of graduated height. Queen Victoria wore the tiara as a necklace and as a dress ornament in addition to a head ornament, but now it is used only as a tiara.
The Baden Fringe Tiara
Mary’s Wedding Tiara
This tiara made it’s royal debut at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Miss Mary Donaldson. It was a gift to Mary from Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, and is thought to have been purchased at auction for her. In its original format, it’s a rather tiny, all diamond affair. It can also be worn as a necklace. She has added heft with pearls. The pearls were added by Marianne Dulong, and they are removable so that she can wear the tiara either way.
The Edward VII Ruby Tiara
This tiara was a gift from King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Princess Margaret, who was their niece. Made by E. Wolff & Co. and likely sold by Garrard, the gem includes a scrolling diamond design with three large upright motifs that resemble hearts, and rubies at the centre of each upright as well as at the base. It can be removed from its base and worn as a necklace.
Edward VII Tiara
The Dutch Sapphire Tiara
One of the big guns, so to speak, in the Dutch royal collection is their massive sapphire tiara. It includes 655 South African diamonds, now set in platinum. The 33 sapphires are nestled at the bottom of the diadem like stained glass windows beneath Gothic arches in the sparkliest cathedral ever. Adding to the sparkle factor, some of the stones are en tremblant – meaning set on springs, so that they move with the wearer and create the maximum amount of reflection. (It can also be turned in to a smaller Sapphire tiara)
Queen Mary’s Amethyst Tiara
Often said to have been acquired by Queen Mary at a charity auction or raffle, this parure includes a collection of generously sized amethysts, primarily oval and framed by diamonds. The tiara includes large oval amethysts positioned vertically between sets of two horizontally stacked smaller oval amethysts. The whole diadem is studded with extra diamonds and is enclosed by a straight row of diamonds at the top and bottom. The amethysts found their way to the auction block. When sold, it included the tiara, a necklace, pendants, a pair of earrings, and a brooch. I don’t know where the items are today, except that Anna Wintour owns the necklace.
Claire of Belgium’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara
A new tiara in the Belgian royal family is an unusual thing, really; the purchase of Claire’s wedding tiara seems to have been out of necessity more than anything, since there apparently aren’t that many tiaras floating around in the family and they don’t do a tremendous amount of sharing. It’s not surprising, then, that many initially assumed that Claire had been loaned a tiara for the Swedish royal wedding.
Maria Feodorovna’s Sapphire Bandeau
This is an obscure tiara, hardly worn in the grand scheme of things. But, thanks to a hope that it might still lurk somewhere in the British vaults.
The Nassau Tiara
It features a cushion-cut sapphire surrounded by diamonds as its removable center, with a classic diamond wreath design on either side. A top line of diamonds gives the tiara a kokoshnik feel, and it can also be worn with an additional rivière of diamonds on the bottom.
The Barberini Sapphire Tiara
The tiara is part of a parure that includes a necklace, brooch, and girandole earrings. The accompanying pieces are also notable for their commitment to the floral theme, when many parures might opt for a simpler design for the rest of the set. These were among the jewels that belonged to the Barberini family, an old Italian noble family that counts a pope among its ancestors (Pope Urban VIII) and who gave their name to the Palazzo Barberini in Rome, today the location of the National Gallery of Ancient Art.
Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire and Diamond Tiara
This has been remodeled over time, removing any signs that may once have existed indicating maker or date. Some say it had ties to Queen Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), but it more likely belonged to Empress Joséphine (1763-1814), wife of Napoleon I. She was painted in an imposing set of sapphires, and it entered the collection of Queen Marie-Amélie when it was sold to Louis Philippe by Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837), who was Empress Joséphine’s daughter (she was also at one point Queen consort of Holland).
Empress Eugénie’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara
This tiara might be the most famous of the surviving French crown jewels – at the least, it’s pretty well known for a tiara that is not currently worn by a royal, I’d say. The pearl and diamond tiara made for Empress Eugénie contains 212 pearls (weighing 2,520 grains in total) and 1998 diamonds (with a total weight of 63.3 carats). The diamonds create a leafy scroll pattern around the multiple larger pearls, and the tiara finishes off with multiple upright pear-shaped pearls of graduated sizes.
Pearl and Diamond Tiara
The Vifte Tiara
This tiara is a smaller piece in a fan shape (“vifte” means “fan” in Norwegian) composed entirely of diamonds set in gold and silver. It can be worn upright in the hair or worn on a diamond necklace. It may be a petite tiara, but it has grand origins: it was a gift from Queen Victoria to her granddaughter, Princess Maud of Wales, to mark Maud’s 18th birthday in 1887.
The Vifte Tiara
The Vasa Tiara
Vasa were the rulers of Sweden from 1523 to 1654. When Princess Märtha of Sweden (1901-1954) married the future King Olav V of Norway in 1929, she received this glittering Art Deco tiara with nearly 1,000 diamonds set in platinum as a gift from the City of Stockholm. Made by C.F. Carlman, the tiara features stylized sheaf motifs representing the heraldic symbol of the House of Vasa.
The Vasa Tiara
Queen Geraldine of Albania’s Diamond Tiara
Designed by Marianne Ostier for Oesterreicher jewelers (later Ostier, Inc.), this diamond and platinum tiara was created for the 1938 wedding of King Zog I of Albania and Queen Geraldine. Using approximately 28.05 carats of old European and single-cut diamonds and 4.80 carats of baguette diamonds, the design features a graduated floral base topped by a stylized diamond ram’s head.
Queen Geraldine Tiara
Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet
Another design by Prince Albert. Queen Victoria wrote, “Albert has such taste and arranges everything for me about my jewels.” The sapphires both cushion and kite-shaped are set in gold, and the diamonds are set in silver.
The Lannoy Diamond Tiara
The Lannoy family tiara is made of platinum and diamonds, 270 old-cut brilliants to be exact. The scrolling natural design includes a few feature stones: a set of larger brilliants, and a large pear shape diamond inverted at the top of the tall center. The design is outlined in tiny platinum gilded pearls. It was made by Altenloh in Brussels, a silversmith and jeweler and former court jeweler to the Belgian royal family.
The Lannoy Tiara
Princess Claire of Belgium’s Diamond Tiara
On her wedding day in 2003, Princess Claire of Belgium debuted a new-to-the-family tiara, a dainty diamond structure purchased for her by King Albert and Queen Paola. The tiara has a small base but a bit of height, a shape that doesn’t suit everyone but worked perfectly with Claire’s own delicate features
Claire of Belgium’s Tiara
The Modern Swedish Fringe Tiara
It’s a modified take on the classic all diamond fringe tiara, with flared uprights creating an almost interlocking design with the smaller in between pieces. The whole thing is dotted on the top with round diamonds and sits on a base accented with a line of diamonds. Like many fringe tiaras, it can be removed from its frame and used as a necklace; unlike many with that capability, this one actually is flipped back and forth on a regular basis.
Swedish Fringe Tiara
Princess Isabella de Ligne de la Trémoïlle’s Aquamarine Tiara
This tiara was created by Holemans in 2009. 16 aquamarines including a 73.28 carat central aquamarine and 360 diamonds set in white gold.
Queen Astrid of Belgium’s Emerald Necklace Tiara
It could also be worn as a necklace. It is unclear where the tiara originated but she did get a lot of Emerald jewelry at the time of her marriage. After her tragic death, King Leopold remarried, and his second wife, Princess Lilian de Rethy, also wore the tiara. No other Belgian princess has been photographed wearing the piece and its whereabouts today is unknown.
Queen Astrid Tiara
Queen Astrid of Belgium’s Stockholm Tiara
It’s almost more aigrette than tiara, with a large vertical element rising from a small bandeau of diamonds set in platinum. The top of the tiara contains a single large pearl. That central element was also detachable, and Princess Astrid wore it as a pendant.
Queen Elisabeth’s Diamond Bandeau
The tiara can be seen to create a row of “E” shapes, which makes sense given its origin: the tiara belonged to Queen Elisabeth (1876–1965), wife of King Albert I. Elisabeth is said to have given the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Astrid (1905-1935), the first wife of Leopold III, to celebrate the birth of her third child, but Astrid tragically died not long after in a car accident. Her husband remarried, and the tiara was also worn by his second wife, Princess Lilian (1916 – 2002). Lilian showcased the tiara’s flexibility, using it as a necklace and also adding additional diamond studs to the top on at least one occasion.
Elisabeth’s Diamond Bandeau
Queen Fabiola’s Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara
When Spain’s Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón married Belgium’s King Baudouin in 1960, she received a tiara from the Spanish government. It can create two different tiaras and a necklace in three different colors.
Fabiola’s Spanish Tiara
Queen Mathilde of Belgium’s Laurel Wreath Tiara
London Jewelers Hennel & Sons created this convertible laurel wreath tiara in 1912. “Convertible” meaning it can be worn on the head as a tiara or around the neck as a necklace. It has 631 diamonds in a leaves and berries design.
Mathilde Laurel Wreath Tiara
Queen Saleha of Brunei’s Diamond Flame Tiara
One of the oldest tiaras in the collection, this tiara has been worn by Queen Saleha since the 1970s. It was loaned to Crown Princess Sarah for a pre-wedding event, and has also been worn by Princess Huda Bahaaul, Princess Norashikin, and Mas’udah Abdullah.
Diamond Flame Tiara
Lady Allan’s Pearl Meander Tiara
The tiara’s band, made of platinum and gold, is millegrain-set with 30 total-carats of near flawless circular-cut diamonds, bordered top and bottom with seed pearls. The centerpiece is a detachable, cushion-shaped diamond 3.3 carats. Cut in the old miners’ fashion, the large diamond is as near-flawless as the little ones that frame it.
The Rosenborg Kokoshnik
Designed in the shape inspired by traditional Russian kokoshnik headdresses, this tiara features a swagged garland of garnets and garnet five-petal flowers, with further leaf ornaments in diamonds and a central bow, all studded with pearls and set in platinum and gold. It comes with a handy extra feature: the top row of diamonds detaches for use as a diamond rivère necklace.
Danish Turquoise Daisy Bandeau
One of the smaller pieces in Queen Margrethe’s collection is this bandeau tiara, made of diamond and turquoise stones forming a small wreath of daisy-like flowers. The tiara is a converted bracelet, and is thought to go back to Catherine the Great.
Princess Mary of Denmark’s Midnight Tiara
The experimentation in non-traditional materials alone tells you that this is no normal tiara. It includes 31 flower buds created with over 1,300 small diamond brilliants and polished moonstones set into a structure of leaves and branches hand carved in 18 carat rose and white gold with black oxidized silver. The colors and light and shading effects replicate a starry moonlit sky at midnight, and thus it is appropriately known as the Midnight Tiara.
The Flora Danica Tiara
Copenhagen jeweler Flora Danica created this modern tiara especially for Princess Marie. The design, by Anja Blinkenberg with input from Marie herself, includes three lilies (French influence, for the French-born princess) to represent Marie, Joachim, and their first child, Prince Henrik. The lilies are made of silver and their centers are topped by tiny diamonds, more than 50 in all. Amethysts are Princess Marie’s favorite stone, and so a line of 25 cabochon amethyst balls sits at the base of the tiara.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s Golden Poppies
Queen Margrethe commissioned this from Danish artist Arje Griegst in 1976. The flowers themselves are made from thinly hammered plates of 21 carat gold. Each flower has baroque pearls inside and 4 diamond-tipped stamens. The design is a very literal translation of a garden flower, including moonstones and aquamarines on the leaves to represent dewdrops and insects depicted in pearls, crystals, opals, moonstones, and diamonds crawling about. There are also tiny lights involved, to illuminate the flowers.
Princess Ingeborg of Sweden’s Turquoise Star Tiara
Among Princess Ingeborg of Sweden’s favourite pieces of jewellery was a turquoise tiara comprised of three large stars linked by two removable arches. Princess Ingeborg wore it frequently, particularly in later years after she had given her grand emerald parure to her daughter, Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, in 1940.
Turquoise Star Tiara
Caroline Amalie’s Emerald Parure Tiara
67 emeralds and 2,650 diamonds make up a parure of a tiara, necklace, earrings, and brooch. The brooch itself can disassemble into three smaller brooches, and can also serve as a pendant for the necklace. As you would well expect with anything falling under the “crown jewel” category, this history here is rich: the largest 26 emeralds date from 1723, when they were a gift from King Christian VI to Queen Sophie Magdalene for giving birth to the future Frederik V. The rest of the emeralds belonged to Princess Charlotte of Denmark, and the diamonds used also previously belonged to the royal family. The whole thing was put together in time for Queen Caroline Amalie to wear while celebrating her silver wedding anniversary with King Christian VIII in 1840.
Emerald Parure Tiara
The Dutch Ears of Wheat Tiara
Thought to have a Russian origin and traced back to Queen Catherine of Württemberg (1788-1819, born Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia). Catherine’s daughter Sophie (1818-1877) was the first wife of King William III of the Netherlands, and she brought the set of diamond ears of wheat to their Dutch home. They have remained in the royal family ever since, and are part of the family foundation. Queen Máxima’s use of three in barrette style was a reminder that they haven’t always been set in tiara form. Using them in traditional tiara style became the norm during the reign of Queen Juliana (1909-2004; reign 1948- 1980). The current tiara frame allows for four, six, or eight ears of wheat to be set in two piles on either side of the head. The two lowest ears nearly join in the middle, but apart from that, there is no center design element.
Ears of wheat
Queen Alexandrine of Denmark’s Fringe Tiara
Many fringe tiaras are referred to as Russian tiaras, thanks to their roots as jeweled versions of traditional Russian kokoshnik headdresses, which were popular at the Romanov court. This one actually is a Russian tiara: Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna (1860-1922) received it as a wedding gift from her uncle, Tsar Alexander II, when she married Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1879.
Alexandrine’s Fringe Tiara
The Pearl Poiré Tiara
It was made around 1825 in Berlin at the request of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, as a wedding gift for his daughter Louise, who was marrying Prince Frederik of the Netherlands. It includes 18 drop pearls (poiré pearls) dangling from a structure of diamond arches.
Princess Fawzia of Egypt’s Diamond Tiara
Made of diamonds set in platinum, the tiara features two rows of upright pear-shaped diamonds, each underlined by multiple rows of baguette-cut diamonds. The design is a rather exuberant arrangement of carat power, quite distinctly in the Van Cleef & Arpels style. And it certainly is overflowing with carat power: the 54 pear-shaped diamonds weigh 92 carats all together, and the 530 baguette diamonds add another 72 carats to the piece. The set also included a double row necklace of baguette and round diamonds and two pairs of earrings.
Fawzia’s Diamond Tiara
Queen Nazli of Egypt’s Diamond Tiara
A tiara with more than 700 diamonds in platinum and a matching necklace with well over 600 additional diamonds, each item boasting between 200 and 300 carats. The tiara could also be worn as a necklace itself, and features bursts of baguette diamonds topped with rolling rows of brilliants.
Nazlit’s Diamond Tiara
The Chaumet Bourbon-Parma Tiara
It was initially a wedding gift for a royal marriage. The Belle Époque style tiara was made in 1919 by Joseph Chaumet and was bought by the Duchess of Doudeauville (some reports say it was the Duke). She gave it to her daughter, Hedwige de La Rochefoucauld (1896-1986), for her marriage to Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma that same year. It has a base which alternates between sizes of diamond collets and a body of sprays of diamonds held by knife-edge platinum settings. The top has upright pear-shape diamonds and there are both round and pear-shape diamonds below.
The Chaumet Tiara
Countess of Paris’s Diamond Bandeau Tiara
This tiara was made by Fillon using the diamonds from a fleur-de-lys tiara that belonged to Princess Francoise of Orléans, Duchess of Chartres. It can be worn as a bracelet and two brooches.
Paris Bandeau Tiara
Countess of Paris’s Sapphire Tiara
A wedding gift to the previous Countess of Paris from the Action Française in 1931. Mellerio made this art deco diamond and sapphire tiara for Isabelle. With three large diamond geometric motifs, linked with rows of diamonds and held between rows of sapphires, top and bottom, and topped with fleur de lys motifs.
Empress Marie Louise of France’s Ears of Wheat Tiara
This tiara was created by Chaumet using nine of the one hundred and fifty diamond ears of wheat that were made by Marie-Étienne Nitot for Empress Marie Louise of France in 1811.
Ears of Wheat Tiara
Duchess of Montpensier’s Sapphire Tiara
A wedding gift to Duchess Marie Therese of Württemberg, now known as the Duchess of Montpensier, from the ‘Restauration Nationale’ in 1957, this Mellerio dits Meller sapphire and diamond necklace was usually worn with the Pearl and Sapphire Tiara, and was most recently seen on the Duchess’ daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Vendome, who is set to be the next Countess of Paris.
Empress Eugenie of France’s Meander Tiara
This tiara was made by Bapst in 1867. It was the third in a series of meander tiaras made by Bapst for Empress Eugenie. Eugenie was known for her jewels and wore them often but when in 1870 word reached her that France had been defeated in the Franco Prussian War, she fled the country and into England and left all jewels paid for by the State—and some of her greatest treasures— behind. A noble gesture certainly, but one that led to the loss of some of history’s most important jewels.
Queen Marie Amelie’s Sapphire, Pearl, and Diamond Tiara
Pearls alongside diamonds and what are thought to be Sri Lankan sapphires. The tiara is a delicate piece, featuring seven oval sapphires with graduated diamond surrounds on a base of diamond festoons with pearl and sapphire accents. This one was made for Marie- Amélie from existing jewels in her collection, which were all remounted for her by Bapst. The case from Bapst still encloses the set.
Pearl and Diamond Tiara
Count of Paris Diamond Bandeau Tiara
This small Diamond Comb Tiara was worn by the sister of the current Count of Paris at their weddings, and is the only major piece inherited by the Count after his mother’s death in 2003. It has not been worn as a Tiara by the Countess, but has been worn as a choker on a ribbon.
Empress Eugenie’s diamond and emerald strawberry leaf Coronet
In 1858, Empress Eugenie commissioned a diamond and emerald strawberry leaf Coronet, featuring large rectangular-cut emeralds, which she wore for a few portraits and took with her to exile in 1871. In 1906, Empress Eugenie gifted a fan to her goddaughter Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. She stored it in a drawer for many years when she took it out and removed the fan she discoverd the ten large, square-cut emeralds beneath. She had it set into a necklace she also wore as a Bandeau. The necklace was bought by Cartier at the Action, and seven of the emeralds were reset into a grand necklace that was sold to Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran and worn by Empress Farah with the Seven Emerald Tiara and Queen Soraya’s Emerald Tiara, as early as 1962.
strawberry leaf Coronet
The Prussian Meander Tiara
Made of diamonds set in platinum in a kokoshnik shape, it includes panels of diamond trellis work set between two rows of Greek key or meander motifs. Each trellis section is centered by a large brilliant diamond. It’s a striking and grand diadem, and was well suited to its original purpose – after all, had history turned out differently, Wilhelm would have succeeded his father, Wilhelm II, as Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, and this would have been worn by an Empress and Queen. Obviously that’s not what happened, but the tiara is still with the Hohenzollern family and is still worn by the couple’s descendants.
Prussian Meander Tiara
Eleonore of Hesse’s Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara
This tiara was purchased in 1906 by Grand Duke Ernst Louis of Hesse for his second wife, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. This tiara’s stones have special meanings: diamonds for eternity, turquoise for true love, and moonstones for innocence, all set in platinum. Ernie needed a little luck in love. His first wife, Victoria Melita, abandoned him and their daughter to marry a Russian grand duke. His second wife, Eleonore, cataloged her jewelry, and her notes refer to this tiara as “firmament stein,” which means “stone of the sky” in German.
Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara
Hohenzollern Pink Topaz Tiara
The hinged circlet outlined by a row of collet-set diamonds on the top and lower edges, enclosing circular-cut topazes between diamond leafy branches meeting at diamond quatrefoils, surmounted by a graduated sequence of pear -shaped topazes supported by pairs of old -cut diamond scrolls, alternating with diamond trefoils.
Pink Topaz Tiara
Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara
The Tiara was designed by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, in 1861, for the wedding of his daughter Princess Alice to Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. Unfortunately, Albert died before the wedding could take place, but the Tiara was gifted to Alice by her grieving mother. The Tiara was described by a newspaper as: “a very beautiful tiara of diamonds, composed of a rich bandeau, with foliage, spires”
Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara
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