16 December 2017

The Persian Turquoise Tiara

Photo licensed to The Court Jeweller; DO NOT REPRODUCE.

When the Queen Mum married the Duke of York in 1923, the two of them never expected to become monarch and consort one day. But even the second lady of the land would have needed quite the jewel collection in those days, and today's tiara, the Persian Turquoise, is one that she received as a part of her wedding jewelry haul.

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The tiara originated with -- you guessed it -- Queen Mary. She bought a parure of jewels set with diamonds and Persian turquoises, including this tiara, a necklace, a brooch, and earrings, from Garrard. She was never photographed in the tiara, probably because she had her own turquoise parure that also included a substantial tiara. The design of this piece is slightly different than that of the Teck tiara. You’ll sometimes see the Persian tiara called the "Triumph of Love" tiara because of the various symbols incorporated in its design, including laurel wreaths and lovers' knots.

In 1923, George V gave the parure to his new daughter-in-law, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The tiara was originally a kokoshnik, but Elizabeth had it altered by removing the top row of diamonds. (In this original form, it reminds me quite a bit of the Milford Haven kokoshnik tiara.) She was photographed in the tiara, but it was never one of her most-worn sparklers.

In 1951, Elizabeth (who was now queen consort) gave the entire parure to her younger daughter, Princess Margaret, as a twenty-first birthday present. After the Poltimore, the Persian tiara was the largest piece in Margaret's collection, and she wore it frequently at white-tie events with pieces from the coordinating parure. Above, she wears the tiara at the 1967 royal premiere of Taming the Shrew.

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When Margaret died in 2002, a great number of her jewels were auctioned to pay death duties, but this tiara was not included in the sale. There's been much speculation about who owns the tiara today. Some think it is with one of Margaret's children, while others have suggested it might have returned to the royal collection. That speculation intensified when the Duchess of Cambridge wore another of Margaret's long-hidden tiaras, the Lotus Flower, for the first time in 2013. Until the day that the tiara is worn in public once more, though, we'll all just have to wonder! (Wouldn't this be a great tiara for Meghan Markle? Just saying...)

Note: This is an updated and expanded version of an earlier post, with new text/images.