A diamond tiara / necklace, early 20th century
The tiara designed as a series of ten-ray stars, above a detachable line of graduating trefoil and crescent motifs, accompanied by a knife-wire backchain, convertible into a necklace, set throughout with cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, cushion-shaped diamonds approx. 17.70 carats total, necklace length 39.0cm, tiara inner diameter 13.0cm
For many centuries head ornaments of various types have been worn to denote rank and honour, such as the laurel wreaths awarded to athletes in Ancient Greece. Due in part to improved lapidary techniques and a greater availability of gemstones, the nineteenth-century saw the emergence of elaborately gem-set tiaras of the type which we are most familiar with today.
Queen Victoria possessed an exquisite collection of jewels, and was particularly fond of tiaras, which she wore to establish her royal identity. This in turn prompted her female subjects to follow suit. The tiara became a mainstay of fashion amongst the British upper-classes throughout the Empire, which endured into the twentieth-century. A crowning glory, hair ornaments were a prominent mean’s of displaying one’s wealth and were worn to a multitude of events, from intimate social occasions and operas, to weddings and ceremonies of state. They were manufactured both at home and abroad, taking centre stage at grand spectacles both in Britain and throughout the colonial Empire.