As we wind down the month of March, it’s time for yet another glimpse at the glittering jewels worn by Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. So far, we’ve looked at a suite of jewelry with links to her maternal Russian inheritance, the tiara she wore on her first wedding day, and the meander kokoshnik that she wore during her second marriage. Today’s piece is a bit different — it’s a diamond tiara that she wore frequently but that never really belonged to her personally at all.
Jewel Detective: Eugénie of France
|Eugénie de Montijo as Empress of France, ca. 1853 |
Saturday Sparkler: The Stuart Tiara
Today, we’re open-mouthed staring at one of the sparkliest Dutch tiaras of them all: the Stuart tiara. This whopper of a diadem includes one of the rarest and most historic diamonds in any royal collection, the Stuart (or Holland) Diamond. That single diamond alone weighs almost forty carats!
The Stuart Diamond’s first recorded owner was a member of the House of Stuart (hence the name): Queen Mary II of England, wife and co-regnant of King William III (who was born William of Orange; he helped to overthrow his father-in-law, James II, in the Glorious Revolution of 1688). Mary and William purchased the diamond themselves after they married, and it was originally set in a brooch .
The diamond went back to the Netherlands after first Mary and then William died. It actually returned to England, however, when a subsequent Prince of Orange went into exile. Queen Charlotte encouraged his wife, Princess Wilhelmina, to have some of the family’s jewels made over, and the Stuart was remodeled as a pendant necklace. Although the family was able to return triumphantly to the Netherlands by 1815, the stone came back to England one more time when it was displayed in London at the famous Great Exhibition of 1851.
The Stuart Diamond wasn’t placed in a tiara until 1897, when Schürmann designed this tiara . It was ordered by Queen Emma specifically for the investiture of her daughter, Queen Wilhelmina. The queen who sported the tiara most often, however, was Queen Juliana. She’s also the last person to have been photographed wearing the tiara. In the picture above, Juliana wears the tiara at Windsor Castle during a 1972 state visit to the United Kingdom.
NOTES, PHOTO CREDITS, AND LINKS
1. Detail of a 1962 portrait of Queen Juliana; source here.
2. For more on the Stuart/Holland diamond, see here.
3. John’s website has much more on the creation of the Stuart Tiara and the House diamond parure.
4. A version of this post originally appeared at A Tiara a Day in May 2013.