12 February 2017

Sundays with Victoria: Prince Albert's Tiaras

The Oriental Circlet (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Prince Albert, who is steaming up the screen right now on Victoria, was kind of a Victorian Renaissance man, if you will. He loved design, and Queen Victoria was the lucky beneficiary of his jewelry design efforts. Today, we're looking at the four tiaras that Albert designed for his wife during their marriage.

Queen Victoria wears the Sapphire Coronet

The Sapphire Coronet: This petite diamond and sapphire coronet was designed by Albert and made by it was made by Joseph Kitching in 1842 for the price of £415. Victoria was painted in the coronet by Winterhalter the same year. The piece stayed with the main branch of the royal family until 1922, when King George V gave it to his daughter, Princess Mary. Her descendants kept the piece until a few years ago, and it was recently part of a bit of drama over an attempted foreign sale. (Much more over here!)

Queen Victoria wears the Emerald and Diamond Tiara

The Emerald and Diamond Tiara: In 1845, Albert designed this diamond and emerald tiara, which was made by Joseph Kitching for around a thousand pounds. Victoria was painted in the piece twice, but at some point, it ended up with the descendants of her daughter, Princess Louise. The tiara was included in Geoffrey Munn's 2001 tiara book, but its current whereabouts are unknown. (More details over here!)

Queen Victoria wears the original, smaller version of the Ruby Strawberry Leaf Tiara

The Ruby Strawberry Leaf Tiara: This tiara, with its fashionable Victorian strawberry-leaf motifs, was originally a small diamond and ruby bandeau. It was made by Joseph Kitching, apparently with Albert's design input, around 1844. The piece was later altered to make it taller, and a second, all-diamond version was commissioned for his daughter, Princess Alice. After Albert's death, Victoria had at least one important outing in the tiara; she wore it for the wedding of her daughter, Princess Louise, in 1871. She gave the sparkler to her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, in 1885. Her descendants (including Queen Ena of Spain) wore and owned the tiara for years, but it seems likely that it was eventually sold. (More over here!)

Queen Victoria wears the Oriental Circlet in its original opal setting

The Oriental Circlet: One of the most beautiful tiaras designed by Albert is this diamond circlet, which was originally set with opals, one of his favorite gemstones. Inspired by the Indian jewelry from the Great Exhibition, Albert reflected Mughal arches in the diadem's design. The tiara was made in 1853 by Garrard; in 1858, after the settlement of the Hanoverian claim, the piece was remade to remove any diamonds that came from Queen Charlotte. In her will, Victoria designated the circlet as an "heirloom of the crown," and it has been with the main line of the royal family ever since. Queen Alexandra had the opals removed and replaced with rubies, and the piece remains in that form today. (Much more over here!)