A very versatile tiara from a European princely collection will be sold next week at Christie’s in Geneva next week—and we’ve got all the details on the sparkling jewel!
The diamond and pearl tiara dates to the nineteenth century. It was originally part of the jewelry collection of the Prince and Princess of Fürstenberg, heads of a princely house from Germany. You’ll recognize the von Fürstenberg name from some of its more famous bearers. Members of the extended family include the socialite Ira von Fürstenberg, fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg (who was married to a member of the family), and Alexandra von Fürstenberg (sister of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, and also a former wife of a member of the extended family).
The tiara, though, belonged to the main branch of the family. It was originally worn by the Princess of Fürstenberg, who was born Countess Irma of Schönborn-Buchheim. She would have worn the tiara as a member of high society in late nineteenth-century Vienna, as the family owned a palace in the city. The tiara features several familiar design elements, including festoons and fleur-de-lis motifs.
Jewelry historian Vincent Meylan, a frequent collaborator with Christie’s, has produced the lot essay for the tiara ahead of its auction on May 11. He writes that the piece is exceptionally versatile, able to be worn in at least five different configurations. Princess Irma was able to play with the tiara, wearing it with and without its different sets of pearls. The large diamond sections can also be removed, so that the pearls seem “to just hang among the hair.”
Here’s what the tiara looks like with all the pearls removed. It’s still a surprisingly balanced tiara this way.
And other gemstones could be placed where the pearls would normally sit as well. Here, in a portrait painted by that master Philip de Laszlo, Princess Irma wears the all-diamond version of the tiara with a large emerald addition. The picture was painted around 1899.
The auction house also demonstrates how the diamond sections look when removed from the frame and placed in a necklace setting. Each individual diamond element can be worn separately as a brooch or a hairpin.
Here’s one more look at the way the necklace would sit when worn. The remarkable jewel is being offered for sale by “a lady of title.” It will be auctioned in Geneva on May 11, and the estimate is currently set at 400,000-600,000 Swiss francs (about $408,000-613,000 USD). Which royal lady do you think this tiara would suit best?