24 March 2021

Floral Tiara Tournament: Mary's Honeysuckle vs Japanese Honeysuckle



Which of these stylized honeysuckle tiaras will win the day?


LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images, SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images


Queen Mary's Honeysuckle Tiara vs. The Japanese Honeysuckle Tiara


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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 in its all-diamond form, as well as with an emerald center element, or a third stone that is either a kunzite or a pink topaz.


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This stylized diamond honeysuckle tiara originally belonged to Setsuko Matsudaira, the English-born wife of Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu. After her death in 1995, the princess's jewels were returned to the imperial vaults. About a decade later, Empress Michiko of Japan began wearing the tiara, preferring it in a more open form. It became one of her favorite jewels in the later years of her husband's reign.