09 April 2018

Jewels in Motion: The Fife Tiara

© Historic Royal Palaces

The magnificent Fife Tiara, which has a new home at Kensington Palace, is impressive enough in photographs, but when you see it in motion, it really comes alive. Today, we've got some excellent views of the tiara's movement, as well as the way that parts of the jewel are designed. Enjoy!

The tiara was a wedding gift to Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife, one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters. Her grandson, the 3rd Duke of Fife, owned the tiara until his death in 2015. Last year, the family gave the tiara to the government in lieu of taxes, and it has been permanently allocated to Historic Royal Palaces. It is now on display at Kensington Palace with additional jewels on loan from the late 3rd Duke's estate. (Read more on the exhibition over here!)

This moving image offers an idea of the incredible sparkle of the diamond tiara, which was worn by several generations of family brides

The largest, central diamonds in the tiara are removable pendants; here you can see what the tiara looks like with the pendants removed

The tiara features a series of pear-shaped diamond pendants in graduated sizes

The pendants are hung on the tiara frame, much as the emeralds and pearls are suspended from the frame of the Queen's Vladimir Tiara

Here's a view of the back of the tiara, showing the intricate metalwork in its design

The tiara was almost certainly designed by Oscar Massin, based on similarities to another tiara displayed in Paris in 1878, though I don't believe we know who constructed the piece -- Massin or another jeweler. (Many of Massin's designs were apparently executed by other jewelry firms)

The movement of the pendant diamonds is especially apparent in these images. Can you imagine how much it would tremble and sparkle when worn by a person?

Photo generously shared by Marion. DO NOT REPRODUCE.

I've heard from many of you who have attended the exhibition so far, and one lovely reader, Marion, sent along some photos and thoughts about the display: "One can get up really close to the glass and the tiaras are only a few inches away. There weren't many people today so one could hang around taking as many photos as one wanted. The reflections in the glass allowed people to take pictures of friends and family on the other side of the case and if they positioned themselves right, it looked like the reflected tiara was sitting on the person's head! I was by myself, so I couldn't indulge in that fantasy! You can probably see the reflection of other people to get the idea. The larger Fife tiara is astounding! Such big diamonds and they are constantly moving from the people just walking around shaking the case." And, maybe my favorite detail of all: "There were nose prints on the glass!" Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Marion!