10 March 2018

The Antique Pearl Tiara

Michel Porro/Getty Images

The glamorous Queen Maxima of the Netherlands has sported an array of tiaras from the Dutch royal family's vast jewel collection, but back in 2001, she selected her very first tiara from the family's stash: the base of the Antique Pearl Tiara.

Anna Pavlovna wears her pearl tiara in an 1849 portrait (Grand Ladies Site)

The tiara, which is owned by the Dutch royal family, is sometimes called the Pavlovnik pearl tiara -- that's because Anna Pavlovna, the queen consort of Willem II of the Netherlands, once had a tiara quite a lot like it. Exactly what happened to that older tiara is unclear. (Anna Pavlovna's pearl tiara is the one worn in the portrait above.)


The current Antique Pearl Tiara, which was made in 1900, was designed to mimic the shape of the original Pavlovnik tiara. The large, pear-shaped pearls that sit upright in the tiara are even older than the piece itself. They belonged to Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, a seventeenth-century Dutch princess who shares her name with Maxima’s eldest daughter, Catharina-Amalia, the current Princess of Orange.

Princess Irene wears the tiara in 2013 (ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Wilhelmina was the first wearer of this pearl tiara, and it has been worn by all Dutch queens since then. Queen Juliana inherited the piece from her mother in 1962. She placed the tiara in the family’s jewel foundation, ensuring that all future queens of the Netherlands will also be able to wear it. Since then, Princess Beatrix and two of her sisters, Princess Margriet and Princess Irene, have also donned the tiara.

Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Although the tiara is almost always worn with Amalia’s pearls, Queen Maxima first wore the tiara without them. Her very first tiara outing happened before she was even a princess: she wore the pearl tiara (sans pearls) to the wedding of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway in 2001. She also wore the base of the tiara solo during a 2003 visit from the Italian president. The base of the tiara has also been worn without its pearls by Princess Viktoria, the wife of the king's cousin, Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma.

Today, Maxima wears the complete piece; notably, she chose it for the striking portrait released to mark her fortieth birthday in 2011, and she's continued to wear it since becoming the nation's queen consort in 2013.

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