Tiaras are often the great dividers of brides. Many assume that they won't wear one, but then end up walking down the aisle wearing a beaming, stately crown, while others end up peeling off the tiniest twinkling headband in the bridal boutique because it simply felt too twee. Tiaras are, however, enjoying a revival. The coronation of King Charles III has brought bejewelled headgear front and centre once more, with a flurry of tiara designs crafted by high jewellery maisons to celebrate the historic event.
If you are considering a tiara for your big day, it helps to establish whether you’re looking for a classic or cutting-edge design. David Morris’ ‘Coronation Tiara’ is a traditional wishbone style set with 24 carats of diamonds, while Yoko London is celebrating the event with a design that showcases lustrous Australian South Sea pearls. Graff, another British behemoth of fine jewellery making, has crafted a tiara featuring 135 carats of diamonds set into floral motifs; a timeless design that will complement an elegant wedding dress. DeBeers, meanwhile, has unveiled a blue-hued titanium and platinum design – a scintillating, almost sci-fi piece to complement a tailored white tuxedo. Today, ‘tiara’ isn’t as strict a term as it perhaps once was.
Since the days when debutantes and diadems were the norm, tiara purchases have similarly evolved. Tiara hire is not unusual, and you can purchase two of Garrard’s ‘Princess’ tiara designs with one click from Net-a-Porter. Each style transforms into an elegant pendant necklace and this versatility is increasingly important – jewellers are seeking to increase the wearability of a jewel originally designed for high days and holidays.
"The tiaras that we make are always detachable, and simple tiaras can break down into a necklace, while more complex tiaras can break down into earrings, brooches and bracelets," explains Vanessa Chiltern, co-founder of Robinson Pelham, a British brand based in London’s Chelsea that is a favourite of Kate, the Princess of Wales.
You may wish to seek out the charm of an original antique tiara, which sell for impressive sums at auction houses and specialist dealers, especially if they boast an interesting provenance. “There is always a demand and fascination for these jewels,” says Benoît Repellin, worldwide head of jewellery at auction house Phillips. “We have sold two tiaras recently in Hong Kong and have another that is about to appear in our June sale that was worn to royal functions by a lady in waiting to the late Queen Elizabeth II,” he explains.
They might feel a little ‘Downton’, but the craftsmanship on period pieces can’t be beaten. “The quality of a period tiara is apparent because they were made when usage in society was de rigueur and so jewellers had frequent practice at making these grand confections,” explains Brian Murray-Smith, owner of The Gilded Lily at Grays Antique Market, in London’s Mayfair. Murray-Smith recalls one memorable sale for a client who owned two tiaras; one for dinner parties, theatre trips and restaurant outings, and another grander, tiered design made by Boucheron for more stately occasions.
For most of us, however, tiaras will remain the preserve of a wedding day, and if you take the plunge then it is important to choose a design that will enhance (rather than distract from) your overall look.
"The tiara and dress must not compete, so you have to decide which is going to take a step back out of the limelight,” advises Chiltern. “If you have a loud tiara and a loud dress, then you lose the bride," she explains.
Crystal crowns such as those created by LeLet NY and Tilly Thomas Luxx, or headband styles by Jennifer Behr and Victoria Percival feel like a modern interpretation of a tiara, while Etsy offers a plethora of Alice bands and floral crowns that can also serve as a final flourish. Whichever you choose, take note of how you walk a little taller and feel a little more important – that’s the real magic of a tiara, right there.
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