There have been some real treasures in Europe’s auction rooms this spring, and today, a gorgeous Edwardian-era tiara goes on display ahead of its sale in London.
If you’re in London, you can head to Christie’s galleries in King Street starting today to view jewels from the house’s upcoming “Jewels Online: The London Edit” sale. Among the sparkling pieces on display is this dazzling diamond bandeau tiara.
The tiara, made by Boucheron, dates around 1910. Christie’s describes the jewel as a “geometric double bandeau design” with “old- and rose-cut diamonds” set in platinum. The lot notes add that the piece comes with a small screwdriver, as “one band detaches allowing [the] tiara to be worn as a single bandeau.” The added flexibility of the convertible piece would have made it even more attractive to buyers during the period when it was made, as tiaras were then worn both atop the head and low across the forehead.
The tiara also comes with a “modern fitted case.” Christie’s notes that the tiara is presently owned by a “British aristocratic family”—the same family whose ancestors purchased it from Boucheron. The tiara, they note, was acquired “by the present owner’s great-grandfather during one of his frequent trips to Paris from London. Treasured by each generation since, the tiara has been worn at State Openings of Parliament as well as receptions at Buckingham Palace.”
Here’s a closer look at the bandeau’s design, which features millegrain detailing around the diamonds.
Circular plaques at the end of each section of the bandeau feature a star design. You can also see the metal loop at the end of the terminal that allows for the attachment of a ribbon or a piece of elastic to secure the tiara to the wearer’s head.
And here’s a closer look at the Boucheron signature on the tiara, too.
The tiara is a gorgeous, and entirely typical, example of the tiaras produced by Boucheron during the first quarter of the 20th century. The fashion for grand, towering Victorian tiaras had faded away, and simpler and sleeker jewels were all the rage. These delicate bandeaux were popular in part because they mimicked the look of simple ribbons in the wearer’s hair. Christie’s notes, “The bandeau can be worn low on the brow or on top of the head—a reference to how women in ancient Greece secured their hair with narrow bands and well suited also to the latest hair-cut of the early 20th century— short and bobbed à la garçonne.”
A similar example of a double diamond bandeau by Boucheron, held in the collection of the Albion Art Institute and pictured above, is featured in Diana Scarisbrick’s Tiara. In the book, she notes that the double bandeau’s “light foliage and graceful curves are in tune with the classical spirit of the art of the Louis XVI period revived in the final years of the Belle Époque.” The leafy style perhaps dates this bandeau stylistically to a slightly earlier period than the one currently for sale at Christie’s, which has a more geometric design typical of the Art Deco period.
Many royal queens and princesses from the era wholly embraced the bandeau. Princess Marie-José, daughter of King Albert I of Belgium and later wife of King Umberto II of Italy, is pictured here wearing a diamond and aquamarine double bandeau tiara from her collection. It shares the geometric and laurel leaf designs with the two Boucheron double bandeau tiaras pictured above.
There’s also a double bandeau from Boucheron in Stockholm. Crown Princess Victoria is the current owner of this laurel wreath tiara from the firm. The tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, was made around 1905 and given to Victoria’s great-grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught, as a wedding present by Queen Sofia of Sweden.
The Swedish royals have also mimicked the Edwardian double bandeau look with a diamond rivière necklace from the family vaults. Both Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine have worn the jewel for gala occasions.
The Queen Mother, when Duchess of York, upped the ante even more, wearing a three row bandeau-style tiara. The tiara, made by Cartier, can be worn with three rows from a set of five bracelets set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Elizabeth wears it here for a ballet performance in the summer of 1933.
Single row bandeau-style tiaras were and are particularly useful, too. Many of them can be worn as bracelets or choker necklaces. This example, which was made by Boucheron around 1910, was sold at Sotheby’s in 2020.
Royal ladies often repurposed the bases of tiaras and circlets as simpler bandeau-style tiaras. Here, Queen Mary wears a diamond bandeau—likely the diamond-and-dot base of the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara—in a photograph by Alice Hughes.
These tiara innovations continue today, too. In Norway, Queen Sonja sometimes wears the base of Queen Alexandra’s Regal Circlet as a standalone bandeau-style tiara.
Several antique bandeaux from the period remain in royal jewelry boxes today. Here, Princess Takamado, a relative of the Emperor of Japan, wears a bandeau with a laurel leaf design in Stockholm in April 2016.
The Danish royal family owns and wears a delicate diamond and turquoise bandeau with a daisy motif, also from the early 20th century jewelry collection of Princess Margaret of Connaught.
And Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway’s favorite tiara is still the petite bandeau of diamond daisies given to her by her in-laws, King Harald and Queen Sonja, as a wedding present in 2001.
And the grandest example of all is probably the incredible Dutch Diamond Bandeau, currently worn by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.
Visitors to London can stop by to view the Boucheron double bandeau at the Christie’s galleries in King Street from today until June 14. Bidding for the bandeau tiara will be held online until June 15. The auction estimate for the tiara is set at £100,000-150,000 (or around $124,000-186,000 USD).