You really can’t talk about royal turquoises without including the jewelry worn by the former Empress of Iran, can you? After all, Iran has historically been (and continues to be) an important source for the gemstones, with mines still producing lovely Persian turquoise today. With that in mind, let’s look at a bejeweled appearance from Farah Pahlavi, resplendent in turquoise, from the early 1970s.
In the early ’70s—sources differ on the date, perhaps 1971 (to coincide with the Persepolis celebrations) or 1972—Farah Pahlavi, then the Empress of Iran, posed for a series of official state portraits wearing glamorous turquoise and diamond jewels. Farah wore more than one turquoise tiara during her tenure as shahbanou. This particular tiara began appearing on the empress in the late 1960s. I don’t think the provenance of the piece has ever been confirmed. I’ve seen at least one source (Ursula at Royal Magasin) attribute the tiara to Van Cleef & Arpels, a firm that did provide a whole lot of jewelry to the imperial family, but again, I’m not sure that’s been confirmed. According to Vincent Meylan, VC&A did make another diamond and turquoise tiara for Farah in the late 1970s, so it’s definitely possible that this turquoise tiara comes from their atelier as well.
Unlike many of the jewels worn during her time as Iran’s empress, this diamond and turquoise tiara was Farah Pahlavi’s personal property. The earrings she wears in these official photographs are part of the tiara’s matching parure. Along with wearing the set for more than one official portrait session, Farah also used the jewels for diplomatic occasions, including state dinners.
She loved to pair the tiara and earrings with this gown, made of white silk heavily embroidered with turquoise and silver thread. The dress is certainly very ’70s in its silhouette, but its embroidery is also inspired by classic Persian patterns. Farah wore the same combination of jewels and clothing for more than one occasion (and more than one official portrait sitting) in the 1970s. Notably, she wore the gown (with other jewels) during President Nixon’s visit to Iran in 1972. Last year, the gown was sold at auction in Germany.
For this portrait session, Farah also wore the sash and star of the Order of Aryamehr.
The overall look was pure ’70s bohemian glam. But, of course, the Pahlavi dynasty wouldn’t ultimately survive the decade. Farah wore the tiara in public for the last time in 1976, during the celebrations marking 50 years of the family’s reign. When the Pahlavis left Iran three years later to go into exile, Farah left the tiara and coordinating jewels behind in Tehran.
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