It would make sense, given that Spain is surrounded by water on more than two sides, that there could be a royal tiara in their collection that resembles a sea shell or ocean waves. Perhaps that was the thought when in 1868 Queen Isabella II of Spain bought the Mellerio Shell Tiara for her daughter, Infanta Isabella.
Isabella the younger was about to be married and Mellerio, who’s headquarters was in Paris, had set up another location in Madrid in 1850 and had quickly become a favorite of the Spanish royals. Designed by Oscar Massin, Mellerio had crafted the tiara in 1867 and Isabella II purchased it the next year to give to her daughter as a wedding present. It wasn’t the last time it would be gifted to a princess in honor of her impending marriage.
Made with undulating waves of diamond encrusted white metal (I wasn’t able to find out what metal, but my guess would be silver over gold, given the time period) with seven large pearls and numerous diamond briolettes, including one drop that is removable and can be hung from the base (but is rarely worn these days).
Infanta Isabella never had any children, so when she passed away, she willed the tiara to her nephew, King Alfonso XIII. You may remember his wife, Ena from last week’s post. Ena was a British born princess who married into the Spanish Royal Family (much to her mother-in-law’s dismay). Ena was a lover of jewelry but she was only photographed wearing this particular tiara a handful of times.
In 1962 the Spanish Royal family accepted another royal outsider into their ranks, when Ena’s grandson married Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark. Queen Ena and the groom’s parents, the Count and Countess of Barcelona, jointly gifted the tiara to Sofia (who changed her name to the Spanish spelling when she married Juan Carlos), as a wedding present.
She wore it for the first time to her pre-wedding ball in Athens and has kept it on a regular rotation throughout her time on the throne, while also loaning it out now and then to other royal women. When her husband abdicated the throne to their son, she all but stopped wearing tiaras altogether. However, unlike many of the tiaras I’ve featured here, this one doesn’t follow the crown, but is instead personally owned by Sofia. We have seen it on Letizia (the current Queen) and will continue to hope we do again, as it’s one of not only the oldest tiaras in the Spanish collection but one of my personal favorites with its unique design.
How do you feel about it? Do you like the seashell/wave design or does it not seem regal enough to you? Tell me all about it in the comments below.