29 June 2019

The Mikasa Pearl Drop Tiara

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Tiaras set with pearls and diamonds are staples of the Japanese imperial jewelry collection, but today's example -- the pearl drop tiara that belongs to the Mikasa family -- might be one of my favorites.




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The tiara is an example of mid-20th century construction, with a low profile and design elements that echo some of the Art Deco motifs from earlier in the century. Round pearls are suspended from elaborate diamond arches, which rest on a base of flat, ribbon-like scrolls.


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You'll sometimes see this sparkler called "Princess Yasuko's Pearl and Diamond Tiara," because the first recorded wearer of the piece was Princess Yasuko of Mikasa. She is the eldest child of Prince and Princess Mikasa; her father was a younger brother of Emperor Hirohito. When she married Tadateru Konoe in December 1966, she gave up her imperial titles and her jewels, including this tiara. Above, she wears the tiara in Tokyo shortly before her marriage. She became Yasuko Konoe; the tiara went back to the imperial vaults.


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In more recent years, though, we've seen the tiara in public again. In 2015, Yasuko's sister-in-law, Princess Takamado, wore the tiara in Stockholm for the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden.


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She paired the tiara with other diamond and pearl jewels, including the necklace from her wedding parure, a set of bracelets, and a gorgeous diamond bird brooch, which was situated to look as if it had gently perched on her shoulder.