23 June 2018

The Poltimore Tiara

Princess Margaret wears the Poltimore Tiara on her wedding day, 6 May 1960 (Getty Images)

If ever there was a tiara match made in heaven, it was Princess Margaret and this whopper of a tiara. The Poltimore, with its floral and scroll elements, may not have been made for Margaret’s swinging ’60s beehive hairdo, but when the two came together, it was tiara kismet.




FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

The tiara gets its name from its original owner: Florence Bampfylde, Lady Poltimore. It was made for Lady Poltimore by Garrard around 1870, and it can be either worn as a tiara or broken down into a necklace and a whopping eleven brooches. As a tiara, it can also be worn in its full glory or in a slightly smaller version. That’s a seriously convertible sparkler.


Margaret wears the tiara on her wedding day, 6 May 1960 (Getty Images)

Margaret, the wife of the 3rd Baron Poltimore, wore the tiara at the 1911 coronation. Lady Poltimore’s grandson, the 4th Baron Poltimore, offered the tiara for sale at auction in 1959. Princess Margaret, who would marry Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon) the following year, snapped it up for a mere £5,500. She wore the tiara, which is actually a completely closed circlet, at her wedding.


Margaret wears the tiara, May 1959

Margaret didn't wait until her wedding day to wear the tiara, though. Margaret wasn't even engaged yet when, shortly after she purchased it, she wore it at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden during the May 1959 state visit from the Shah of Iran. Her royal wedding was still a full year away.


Margaret wears the necklace version of the tiara, 1960 (AFP/Getty Images)

Margaret also wore the necklace version of the tiara, as you can see in the photograph above, taken at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in 1960. Even though she wore other tiaras throughout her life, the Poltimore became the diadem most closely associated with her. Her husband even famously photographed her wearing it in her bathtub!


The tiara goes on display at Christie's, 2006

Margaret died in 2002, and by 2006, her two children were facing a massive estate tax bill. Along with quite a few of Margaret’s other jewels (though not all of her tiaras, it should be noted), the Poltimore was auctioned at Christie’s in London that July.


Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The high end of the auction estimate was set at about $350,000, but it ended up selling to a private buyer for a staggering $1.7 million. A fittingly grandiose price for an absolutely stupendously grand tiara, if you ask me.

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