08 May 2014

The Top Ten: Maddest Tiaras

Time for another new feature category here at The Court Jeweller: The Top Ten, in which we count down the best (and worst) of royal jewelry. Today, we're celebrating my recent relaunch of classic posts from the Mad Hattery! blog with a rundown of my votes for the top ten Maddest Tiaras in modern royal collections. Have a glance at my picks, and then weigh in with your top ten list in the comments below!

10. Princess Madeleine's Aquamarine Bandeau: The hunt for the maddest tiaras makes its first stop in the Bernadotte family vaults in Sweden, where this simple yet strange bandeau resides. It's the tiara given to Princess Madeleine for her eighteenth birthday; for many years, it was one of the only tiaras she wore. The piece is actually an heirloom, but that hasn't stopped many royal watchers from affectionately (or not?) dubbing this one "the Cyclops."

9. Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara: Here's a case where a transformable tiara can go from lovely to completely mad with a few flicks of the jeweler's tiny screwdriver. The tiara given by General Franco to Queen Fabiola of Belgium as a wedding gift is perfectly lovely when it's arranged as a floral wreath tiara. But when its floral elements are propped up atop a coronet, it goes from elegant quite quickly to something ... else. Let's put it this way -- would anyone have been surprised if this coronet had shown up during one of Lord Snowdon's over-the-top '60s royal spectaculars? Nope, me neither.

8. The Aquamarine Pineflower Tiara: It's a bit hard to see in the photo above, but Princess Anne is wearing the absolute maddest of her own tiaras at the recent Irish state banquet. This Cartier-made tiara, which includes pinecone elements mixed with large rectangular aquamarines, was once owned by the Queen Mum. Not surprisingly, it's not been high on the "most-worn tiaras" list for either the QM or her granddaughter.

7. The Norwegian Emerald Parure Tiara: This mad tiara just goes to show that royal provenance can't totally overcome wackiness. This emerald tiara was once owned by the Duchess of Leuchtenberg, daughter-in-law to Empress Josephine of France. It's been worn by lots of Scandinavian royals, including the current Queen of Norway, but that still doesn't trump the fact that the geometric stones in this one look a bit more Willy Wonka than white-tie.

6. The Burmese Ruby Tiara: A relic of the design vacuum that was the 1970s, the Tudor roses in this modern tiara unfortunately read "big red blob" far too often for this one to be anything but a mad diamond and ruby experiment gone wrong.

5. The Swedish Four-Button Tiara: Beep, beep, everybody -- it's the Jeep! I don't care if the lights are actually antique diamond buttons (and, okay, they are), this one's just loony.

4. Queen Sonja's Modern Gold Tiara: It's just never good when a queen consort's tiara would look right at home on the set of a 20th century sci-fi flick.

3. The Chaumet Emerald Tiara: The grand ducal family of Luxembourg has some stunning pieces of jewelry tucked away in their palace vaults ... and then they also have this tiara, suitable for Wonder Woman's fanciest gala appearances.

2. Princess Astrid's Aigrette: According to Astrid herself, she's pretty sure she can pick up radio signals from across Europe with this puppy, and based on the appearance of these diamond antenna, I believe her.

1. Queen Margrethe's Golden Poppies: Not so much a tiara, really, as an experience -- and by "experience," I mean a giant creepy gold headdress made of flowers and bugs. It's another relic of the 1970s, when tiara makers appear to have been as much under the influence of various things as the rest of the population was. Above, at one of the poppies' more recent public outings (a decade ago (!), at Frederik and Mary's engagement dinner), Margrethe only wore a couple of the flowers strewn in her hair. But the full madness isn't apparent until you see the whole thing. I don't know, though -- it's Daisy the Great Dane, after all. If she's not going to wear a truly mad tiara, who will?

So, readers, it's your turn now to offer up your roster of the ten maddest royal tiaras out there. And when you're done, don't forget to drop by The Royal Roundup for some classic mad royal hattery!