22 February 2014

Saturday Sparkler: The Modern Fringe Tiara

Princess Madeleine of Sweden wears the Modern Fringe Tiara [1]
While the Swedes are well-known for draping themselves in historic jewels, there are also new tiaras in their collection. This one, the Modern Fringe Tiara, was an unexpected surprise at last year's royal wedding, which united Princess Madeleine with her financier husband, Christopher O'Neill.

The piece made its first public appearance in the late 1980s. It's often said that the diamond tiara may have been a tenth-anniversary present from King Carl XVI Gustaf to Queen Silvia in 1986, but that has never been confirmed. The Swedish court generally refers to the piece only as "a private tiara," making it clear that it is a personal possession, not one of the pieces in the Bernadotte jewel foundation.

Madeleine of Sweden [2]
The sparkler is something of an innovative fringe tiara. Rather than simple vertical spikes, or slightly tapered "sunray" spikes, this tiara features geometric fringe pieces that resemble stylized fleur-de-lys elements. Each large spike also has three diamonds radiating from its peak: two smaller circular diamonds extending from each side, and one large round diamond affixed to the top of the fringe. When worn as a tiara, the piece has a rather unusual frame. It is mounted on a base that make the tiara appear to hover, halo-like, above the wearer's head. But, like many fringe tiaras, this one is convertible, and the tiara often pops up at royal occasions as a necklace (as you can see in the photograph on the left). All three of the senior royal women, including Crown Princess Victoria, have worn the fringe necklace.

Although the tiara was first worn by Queen Silvia, in recent years it has been worn with increasing frequency by her younger daughter, Madeleine. She surprised many royal watchers by wearing this tiara at her wedding to Christopher O'Neill in June 2013. On this occasion, she covered the floating base of the tiara with orange blossoms. But while the Swedish royal court sometimes provides tantalizing tidbits of jewel history to coincide with major occasions like royal weddings, we sadly learned little new information about the fringe on the day -- the wedding press release from the court still described the piece only as "privately owned" [3].

Some have speculated that this tiara has been given by Queen Silvia to Princess Madeleine, although there's been no announcement of such a gift. Even so, I think we can expect to see Madeleine continue to wear this tiara at royal events in the years to come. Madeleine's daughter, a new little Swedish princess, was born on Thursday, and as the constitution requires that anyone in line to the Swedish throne be raised in Sweden, I think it's likely that we'll see the growing family make frequent trips to Madeleine's home country. Who knows -- we may even see the fringe gracing the new princess's royal noggin a few decades down the road! [4]

1. Cropped version of photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. Photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
3. You can read the press release detailing Madeleine's bridal attire here.
4. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in April 2013.