27 May 2017

Queen Mary's Collingwood Fringe Tiara

Mary wears the Collingwood Fringe Tiara on her wedding day in 1893

Our celebration of the 150th anniversary of Queen Mary's birth continues today with a sparkler that marked the beginning of her tenure as a senior British royal: her wedding tiara.

The Collingwood Fringe Tiara is visible, partly obscured by flowers, in Mary's hair on her wedding day

Mary received numerous tiaras in her vast collection of wedding gifts, but the one she chose to wear on her wedding day showed a keen understanding of the royal world. Hidden among the flowers in her hair is the Collingwood Fringe Tiara, a convertible necklace/tiara given to her as a wedding present by her new husband's grandmother, Queen Victoria. (The Queen was also a first cousin of Mary's mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck.)

The tiara/necklace depicted in the illustrated guide to Mary's wedding gifts

Here's how the tiara was depicted in an illustrated survey of Mary's wedding gifts. In The Queen's Diamonds, Hugh Roberts describes the piece as "a necklace/tiara ... purchased by Queen Victoria in 1893 from Collingwood and Co. as a wedding present for Queen Mary, who wore it on her wedding day."

The Roberts book also includes an image of the Collingwood Fringe from Mary's own photographic jewel inventory; this picture shows the tiara with a large base, similar to the diamond-and-dot base of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. The convertible Collingwood Fringe is extremely similar in design to another of Mary's wedding gifts, the County of Surrey Tiara, but the two pieces are distinct.

The fringe (with the supplemented base) worn as a necklace, paired with the Teck turquoise necklace

But although she surely pleased her new grandmother-in-law by wearing the tiara on her wedding day, it doesn't appear to have been one of her favorites. She was photographed in the necklace version of the tiara, pairing it with pieces from the Teck turquoise suite, but there are no major portraits of Mary wearing the piece in its tiara form. And in 1919, she decided to sacrifice the Collingwood Fringe completely, scavenging the diamonds for reuse in her new, modern fringe tiara.