13 December 2014

Saturday Sparkler: Princess Grace's Diamond Tiara

If you've been paying attention to your royal news this week, you'll already know that the Monegasque princely family has added two brand-new members. Princess Charlene gave birth on Wednesday to Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Although he is younger by two minutes, Jacques becomes Monaco's hereditary prince. As a consolation prize, I'm hopeful that his sister will get to wear some of the family's glamorous jewels -- perhaps today's tiara, which belonged to her grandmother?

Although Princess Grace wore a number of tiaras during her lifetime, most of them were actually loans. Her personal collection seems to have consisted of precisely two pieces: the convertible diamond and ruby tiara given to her by the Société des Bains de Mer, and today's tiara, which the family apparently refers to simply as her "diamond tiara."

The name advertises the piece well. Although I don't believe the name of the tiara's maker has ever been released, various museum exhibitions (like this one from 2007) have given us a clear picture of the sheer wattage of the thing. The sparkler may be small, but it has more than two hundred diamonds in its platinum setting: 214 "modern-cut diamonds" and 42 diamond baguettes. The gems are set in elements that resemble swags or festoons.

Grace began wearing this tiara in the early years of her marriage, and she selected it for some significant events, including a state visit to Ireland in 1961. (You can see it above in the picture of Rainier and Grace with President and Mrs. de Valera.) Some also believe that this is the tiara worn by Princess Caroline to the ball held before her wedding to Philippe Junot, and I tend to agree, though the photographs of the event aren't particularly clear.

The tiara is apparently still a part of the princely collection in Monaco, and I can't figure out why none of the princesses have taken it out for a spin. Maybe the Grimaldi women are wary of donning pieces that have such strong associations with Princess Grace? (Or maybe Caroline hasn't wanted to wear a piece with clear associations to a previous wedding again?) Whatever the case, this might be the perfect tiara one day for Gabriella, who will surely want to honor her grandmother but will be less burdened by the pressures of her legacy.