Few emerald royal tiaras have captured the imagination quite as strongly in recent years as the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik. The tiara, which emerged from the royal vaults after a hibernation of more than half a century, has quickly become a favorite of royal jewelry lovers around the world.
The tiara was made by Boucheron for Dame Margaret Greville, who famously bequeathed her jewelry to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) in 1942. Historian Vincent Meylan, who published a book on Boucheron’s archives in 2011, wrote that the tiara was made for Mrs. Greville in 1921. Prior to Princess Eugenie’s wedding, the tiara had only been spotted in a few grainy photographs from Mrs. Greville’s day and in archival material from the jewelry firm. Some expressed doubts that the tiara was still even in the British vaults, as it had never been worn publicly by a member of the royal family.
On Princess Eugenie’s wedding day, however, the tiara took center stage, and the palace updated some of the provenance information on the piece. The diamond and emerald tiara, which features a large cabochon emerald as its central element, was made in 1919, two years earlier than previously stated. The press release from the palace described the tiara as “made of brilliant and rose cut diamonds pavé set in platinum, with six emeralds on either side.” The release also noted that the tiara’s design was inspired by the kokoshniks that had been popular at the imperial court of the Romanovs in Russia.
The Queen Mother owned the tiara from 1942 until her death in 2002. Although she wore other emerald jewels from the Greville bequest, she was never photographed wearing the kokoshnik. When she died in 2002, the tiara was inherited by the Queen, who loaned it to her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie of York, for her wedding in October 2018.
Eugenie wore the tiara on her wedding day, pairing it with a pair of diamond and emerald earrings. The earrings were her wedding gift from her new husband, Jack Brooksbank, and I’d imagine that they were chosen specifically to coordinate with the tiara.
Eugenie chose not to wear a veil with her wedding ensemble, which meant that the tiara didn’t have to compete with any other ornament on the day. The central emerald shone brightly during the wedding ceremony, which was held at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
When the couple kissed after the ceremony, we got a good view of the side of the tiara. Note how far the piece extends around the wearer’s head, almost coming together to form a complete circlet at the back. I’ve wondered whether this may have been a reason the Queen Mum never wore the tiara—perhaps the design of the piece made it uncomfortable. (She also tended to favor taller tiaras rather than sleeker pieces like the kokoshnik.)
Here’s one more look at the emerald kokoshnik from Princess Eugenie’s wedding day. Now that the tiara has finally seen the light of day once again, I’m hopeful that we’ll get to see it worn again in public sooner rather than later.
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