You've never seen tiaras this stunning.
Tiaras on display!
The 1845 piece features “gothic arches and a light, delicate design,” Sotheby’s jewelry specialist Justin Roberts said at a preview of the exhibit held on Wednesday. The exhibit opens to the public on March 30.
The suite of jewels —which feature in the tiara along with a matching necklace, earrings and brooch — delighted the 19th-century queen, who praised her “beloved Albert” and his “wonderful taste.”
The jewels were given by Victoria to her granddaughter Princess Louise and have remained intact all these years — despite the fact that for many years, moneyed families broke up priceless pieces to create more modern jewelry.
“Tiaras of this importance have not survived because of the fashion to dismantle them — even in the 1990s,” says Roberts. “We have not seen a collection of emeralds of this quality. It was mind-blowing when I first saw it.”
The earrings aren’t exactly as they seem. The one displayed on the left (below) has a replacement synthetic emerald. “We were talking about getting it replaced [with a real emerald],” says Roberts, “but it’s part of their history.”
Roberts wouldn’t comment on the jewels’ value but notes it’s “considerable. The history and provenance makes them even more important.”
Alongside the parure, or matching suite, are two additional headpieces. One, the Fife Tiara (below), which was given to Princess Louise on her wedding day by her husband, was created with hundreds of diamonds ranging in weight from one to 10 carats. Central to its design is a breathtaking row of pear-shaped “swing set” diamonds, which shimmer and shake slightly even when on the stand behind glass in Kensington Palace.
The tiara was given to the government in lieu of owed inheritance taxes and loaned to Historic Royal Palaces for display.
Completing the set on show at the exhibit is another of Louise’s jewels, known as the Fringe Tiara (below). It could be worn as a tiara or converted to a necklace and was a gift from her parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales (before they were King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). The tiara, which contains graduated pavé-set rays of diamonds in white and yellow gold, was made in the kokoshnik-style that was inspired by the headdresses of the Romanov court.