29 May 2020

Queen Mary's Tiaras: The British Royal Collection

Grand Ladies Site

This week, we celebrated the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest royal jewelry collectors of all time, Queen Mary. To mark her birthday here, I've got a special treat: a two-part series about her tiaras! Today, we're kicking things off with a look at the tiaras from her personal collection that are still being used by the royal family today.

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The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

One of the most classic and beautiful tiaras in the British collection, Queen Mary received this one as a wedding present in 1893. And although it is an all-diamond tiara today, it was originally topped by fourteen large pearls. Mary later had those pearls replaced with diamonds and used the pearls on her new Lover's Knot Tiara. Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as a wedding present, and it's still one of the Queen's most-worn tiaras today.

Royal Collection, Governor-General of New Zealand

Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

Made in 1919 using gold, silver, and diamonds recycled from a tiara she received from Queen Victoria, Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara is a classic and elegant example of the fringe design. In 1936, Mary gave it to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), who then lent it to two famous royal brides: her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, and her granddaughter, Princess Anne. The present Queen inherited the tiara in 2002.

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Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik

Given as a silver wedding present to Queen Alexandra in 1888 by a committee of aristocratic ladies, the tiara was made to mimic the Russian kokoshnik tiaras popular at the court of Alexandra's sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna. Alexandra wore the tiara at Queen Mary's wedding, and then bequeathed it to her in 1925. She passed it along to her granddaughter, Elizabeth II, a quarter century later. The Queen still owns and wears the tiara today.

Wikimedia Commons, Toby Melville-Pool/Getty Images

The Vladimir Tiara

This diamond tiara of interlocking circles and pearl pendants was made in the 1870s for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, sister-in-law of Czar Alexander III of Russia. After the revolution, her daughter sold the tiara to Queen Mary, who had it adapted to take either the original pearl drops or a set of drops from the Cambridge emerald collection. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the piece in 1953, and she still wears it regularly today.

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The Delhi Durbar Tiara

Queen Mary's husband, King George V, called this sparkler her "best tiara." It was made in 1911 for the Delhi Durbar, the celebration of the couple's coronation in India. Mary recycled diamonds from another dismantled tiara to make the piece, which was originally also set with some of the famous Cambridge emeralds. In 1912, Garrard altered the piece so that it could be worn with the Cullinan III and IV diamonds. Mary gave it as a long-term loan to the Queen Mother, who kept it until her death. Today, it's now on loan to the Duchess of Cornwall, who has so far only worn it in public once.

Royal Collection Trust/Wikimedia Commons, Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

Mary commissioned this tiara in 1913 to mimic the design of a sparkler that belonged to her grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. The new lover's knot tiara recycled pearls that had once been atop the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, as well as other pearls from Mary's collection. The tiara once also had upright pearls fixed atop the piece, although those have since been permanently removed. The Queen inherited the tiara from her grandmother in 1953, but later it became primarily associated with another wearer: Diana, Princess of Wales. Today, it's worn by Diana's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.

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Queen Mary's Diamond Art Deco Bandeau

This diamond bandeau-style tiara was made in 1932 to accommodate one of Mary's wedding gifts, the County of Lincoln Brooch. The round diamond cluster brooch forms the centerpiece of the tiara. The bandeau was later inherited by the Queen, who famously loaned it to the Duchess of Sussex as a bridal tiara in 2018.

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Queen Mary's Honeysuckle Tiara

Queen Mary commissioned this tiara, which features honeysuckle elements throughout in diamonds, in 1914. Later, she had the size of the tiara's peak reduced. Originally the piece was made to hold one of the Cullinan diamonds; that centerpiece stone was also interchangeable with a sapphire and diamond jewel. When Mary gifted the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, she had a new diamond center element made. Today, the piece is worn by the current Duchess of Gloucester with that diamond, an emerald, or a third stone that is either a kunzite or a pink topaz.


The Teck Turquoise Tiara

Mary received this tiara, which has a coordinating suite of turquoise and diamond jewels, from her parents as a wedding present in 1893. Never one of her most-worn pieces, she had the height of the tiara adjusted in 1912. Two decades later she gave the turquoises to her new daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, as a wedding gift. It's been with the Gloucesters ever since, and today it's worn by the present Duchess of Gloucester.

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The Iveagh Tiara

This lovely kokoshnik-style tiara was given to Queen Mary as a wedding present by Lord and Lady Iveagh in 1893. It's one of the only pieces of wedding-gift jewelry that she never significantly altered; with its beautiful, balanced shape, she didn't really need to. Mary bequeathed the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Today, it's still worn by Alice's daughter-in-law, Birgitte, and it was also a wedding tiara for Alice's granddaughter, Lady Rose Gilman.

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, Ron Bell/PA Images/Alamy

The Kent Diamond Bandeau/The Kent Pearl Fringe Tiara

Queen Mary bought this small diamond bandeau from Garrard in 1925, and she used it for a time with emerald toppers from the Cambridge emerald cache. After her death, the tiara was inherited by her daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. It's been worn by several of the Kent ladies, including Princess Alexandra; it was also the present Duchess of Kent's wedding tiara. Many believe this tiara was partly dismantled to create the small pearl and diamond fringe tiara currently in the Kent collection. That version of the tiara is still with the Kents today, and was used as a wedding tiara by Lady Helen Taylor in 1992.