08 December 2014

The Ogilvy Tiara

Our magpie of the month is an elegant, glittering princess, but her personal jewel collection is actually rather small. Today, let's look at Princess Alexandra's tiara, a convertibly piece which can be worn with a number of stones.

Alexandra (with Angus and her mother) wearing the tiara, 1963

The tiara was made out of a series of diamond floral hair ornaments that Alexandra wore before her marriage. Around the time that she wed Angus Ogilvy, who was the son of the 12th Earl of Airlie, the floral elements were integrated into the design of this tiara, which also features diamond ribbons trailing around and between the diamond flowers. The piece also has a coordinating necklace, which was patterned after Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee necklace, and coordinating earrings. The parure was a gift from Angus, who had commissioned Collingwood to make the set for his new wife.

Alexandra wears the tiara, 1982

While Alexandra has worn many tiaras during her lifetime -- including her mother’s diamond fringe, the Kent Festoon, the Russian pearl tiara, and the bandeau that became the Kent pearl fringe -- this tiara is the only one that Alexandra personally owns.

Alexandra wears the tiara, 1993

It’s just as well, then, that the tiara is convertible. The pearls in the sparkler can be switched out for other stones, including sapphires and turquoises. The necklace is also convertible in the same way; its pearls too can be swapped for other gemstones.

Alexandra wears the tiara, 1995

It’s been years since we’ve seen Alexandra in this tiara in public, but that’s largely a function of her advancing age, her slow retirement from royal duties, and her reported physical discomfort wearing jewels like tiaras. It’ll be interesting to see whether Alexandra’s daughter or daughter-in-law, who are both commoners, will ever have a chance to don the family diadem.