24 August 2019

Prince Albert's Tiaras

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Prince Albert, whose 200th birthday falls on Monday, was kind of a Victorian Renaissance man. He loved design, and Queen Victoria was the lucky beneficiary of his jewelry design efforts. Today, we're revisiting our overview of four tiaras that Albert designed for his wife during their marriage.



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This petite diamond and sapphire coronet was designed by Albert and made by Joseph Kitching in 1842 for the price of £415. Victoria was painted in the coronet by Winterhalter the same year. The piece stayed with the main branch of the royal family until 1922, when King George V gave it to his daughter, Princess Mary. Her descendants kept the piece until a few years ago, and it was recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it holds a place of honor in the museum's refurbished jewelry galleries.


© Historic Royal Palaces


In 1845, Albert designed this diamond and emerald tiara, which was made by Joseph Kitching for around a thousand pounds. Victoria was painted in the piece twice, but at some point, it ended up with the descendants of her granddaughter, Princess Louise. The tiara was included in Geoffrey Munn's 2001 tiara book, and after the death of the 3rd Duke of Fife, it was put on display at Kensington Palace with additional Fife family jewels.


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This tiara, with its fashionable Victorian strawberry-leaf motifs, was originally a small diamond and ruby bandeau. It was made by Joseph Kitching, apparently with Albert's design input, around 1844. The piece was later altered to make it taller, and a second, all-diamond version was commissioned for his daughter, Princess Alice. After Albert's death, Victoria had at least one important outing in the tiara; she wore it for the wedding of her daughter, Princess Louise, in 1871. She gave the sparkler to her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, in 1885. Her descendants (including Queen Ena of Spain) wore and owned the tiara for years, even overhauling it to replace the rubies with diamonds, but it seems likely that it was eventually sold.


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One of the most beautiful tiaras designed by Albert is this diamond circlet, which was originally set with opals, one of his favorite gemstones. Inspired by the Indian jewelry from the Great Exhibition, Albert reflected Mughal arches in the diadem's design. The tiara was made in 1853 by Garrard; in 1858, after the settlement of the Hanoverian claim, the piece was remade to remove any diamonds that came from Queen Charlotte. In her will, Victoria designated the circlet as an "heirloom of the crown," and it has been with the main line of the royal family ever since. Queen Alexandra had the opals removed and replaced with rubies, and the piece remains in that form in the royal vaults today.

Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post.