Just a few weeks after another Japanese princess departed from the imperial family, another princess officially came of age in Tokyo. Princess Aiko’s tiara debut was definitely one of the jewelry highlights of 2021!
Princess Aiko, the daughter of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, turned twenty in December. That’s the age of majority in Japan, which means that she is now a full-fledged member of the imperial family and will attend all important events. That includes galas and receptions at the palace in Tokyo, which means that she needs a parure of jewelry, including a tiara.
Though most imperial princesses have recently received a brand-new parure of jewels, Princess Aiko instead has been loaned a suite of jewelry that belongs to her aunt, Sayako Kuroda. The set includes a tiara, earrings, necklace, brooch, and bracelet. Aiko’s father also presented her with the insignia of the Order of the Precious Crown, the order of chivalry traditionally bestowed on female members of the imperial family.
Why did Princess Aiko borrow a parure of jewels instead of receiving her own? Because of the pandemic, the Imperial Household Agency, didn’t budget for jewels for Aiko, so no new parure was made. Unlike most recent parures, the cost of the suite of jewels made for Princess Sayako in 1990 was met with funds from her father’s living expense allowance, not paid for with public money. That means that the jewels still belong personally to Sayako (pictured above in 2005), and she was able to choose to lend them to her niece.
Princess Aiko wore formal court dress for her debut appearance at the palace on December 5. Standing beside her parents, the princess received greetings and congratulations from Prime Minister Kishida and other government officials.
This suite of diamond jewels has now been worn by two daughters of emperors, making it a sort of “Princess Royal” suite for the Japanese imperial family. While I love seeing new jewels come to life, I also love seeing jewels passed between generations—like an old song sung to a brand-new tune.