Mary, Mary never ordinary, where did your tiaras go? Ok, that’s not exactly how the nursery rhyme goes. But it could have. Queen Mary, known for dismantling her jewels and reworking them (which I guess I can’t say I blame her – I do love a conversion piece), left a slew of tiara carcasses in her wake during her time on this earth. But which ones and how many? Today we’ll explore Queen Mary’s Long Lost Tiaras.
Let’s start with the ones that are just MIA. We don’t know if she broke them apart and repurposed them or if they are buried somewhere in the royal vaults, but they haven’t been seen for eons. To start, the Queen Mary Russian Bandeau is no where to be seen. We do know that it was worn by royals after Queen Mary. We have photos of Princess Margaret in the bandeau as a younger woman. It was supposedly originally created for Marie Feodorovna, born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the wife of Alexander III of Russia and mother to Nicholas II, although that provenance can’t be proven. We do know that Mary wore it later in life and that the large central sapphire could be switched out (and possibly worn as a brooch). Hopefully this one is just waiting its turn to come to see the light of day again.
Another later hand me down to Margaret, the Queen’s Diamond Lozenge Tiara hasn’t been seen in decades. The piece was made sometime before 1935 and it can also be worn with 13 pearls atop – interestingly the same exact number of pearls as are found in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara. Coincidence? I think not when you’re talking about a woman who loved to mix and match. Again, we can only hope this one is still floating around somewhere, since we have no confirmation of its existence nor demise.
Tucked neatly in her hair for a series of portraits, we find Mary’s Laurel Wreath Bandeau. Its current existence now seriously doubted, the bandeau, originally a necklace, was a wedding present in 1893 from the 1st Duke of Westminster. Knowing how she loved to re-work her jewels and re-use diamonds, and since it was not seen in the usual rotation, my guess is this one was lost to us long ago but no one (that’s talking, at least), knows for sure.
Mary was no dummy, so she knew enough to wear the tiara given to her as a wedding present by her soon-to-be new mother-in-law, Queen Victoria at her wedding. Another piece that could also be worn as a necklace, she tucked it into her hair on that day in 1893 but then later dismantled it in 1919 to make her new diamond fringe tiara, leaving us with one of her long lost tiaras found only in photos.
This particular tiara saddens me that it’s gone. The style seems quite unique and possibly something that would have been timeless. Alas, it was not to be. Mary took her County of Surrey tiara, yet another wedding present, this one gifted to her by the people of the County of Surrey, and dismantled it in 1913, using the stones in two other tiaras. Thirteen larger stones were used as replacements for the pearls that originally graced the top of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, while the several other diamonds were used in the construction of The Honeysuckle Tiara.
Not only were the royals quite stylish, they were also apparently quite lucky. Queen Mary, like her grandmother before her who won the Cambridge Emeralds in a lottery for charity, won the amethysts used in this set, consisting of a tiara, necklace, brooch and earrings, at an auction. It’s rumored that she gave the set to the Queen Mother, but it seems it was Princess Margaret who later auctioned them off herself. Is it truly another of the long lost tiaras? The tiara appears to be long gone, but the necklace has been seen around Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s neck. On loan or a permanent fixture in her jewelry box? Who’s to say?
If only we had color photos of this beauty. This tiara actually came to Mary as a hand-me-down from her grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, to her aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and then to Mary. From the 1800s, the tiara was given by Mary to her daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, as a wedding gift, but was then sold by the current Duke and Duchess of Kent. Don’t worry – they had a new tiara made from the parure’s necklace, so all is well. 😉
Yet another long lost tiara that is heart breaking – the Ladies of England Tiara. I’ve written about this one more extensively (use the link in the previous sentence to read more), because I find it crushing that it’s gone. Another wedding gift, this one from a grouping of 650 “Ladies of England”, the Queen broke down the Hunt and Roskell tiara, which could once again also be worn as a necklace, in 1913 to make two more tiaras – The Lover’s Knot and The Honeysuckle Tiaras. Both lovely but…. those poor ladies.
And now for our final femme fatale – The Boucheron Loop. Mary actually had this tiara made for herself by Boucheron, the French jewelry house, in 1902. But apparently she tired of it, even though the diamonds had been a gift from DeBeers while she and her husband were visiting Africa. And so it went the way of many others, was dismantled a decade later and the diamonds were used to make the Dehli Durbar Tiara.
So, if you could have saved just one of Queen Mary’s long lost tiaras from the wrecking ball (or jewelers pliers, as it may be), which one would it have been. Tell me in the comments, since I’m dying to know!