Earlier this month, Princess Beatrice secretly wed Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at Windsor Castle. The royal family announced the marriage the day following the couple’s July 17 wedding, sharing images from the private ceremony and a few details about Princess Beatrice’s dress, a vintage Norman Hartnell gown, and tiara. The princess had a wealth of priceless tiaras to choose from, as many of the royal family’s Crown Jewels have been heirlooms of the lineage for generations. She ultimately picked the Queen Mary diamond fringe tiara, the exact same piece that her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, wore at her own royal wedding in 1947. The sparkling accessory not only topped Princess Beatrice’s bridal look but served as a symbol of history and unity.
While Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family currently hold claim to one of the most extravagant and storied jewelry collections of all time, the conception of the ornate status symbol dates far before the British monarchy’s existence. Precious and priceless tiaras and crowns have been signifiers of wealth and power since Ancient Greek times, and they’ve prevailed to modern day, where they now stand as relics of a historic and elite lineage. From the tiara’s invention to its current status as a royal sartorial piece, CR traces the origins of the ornate headpiece.
Since its invention in antiquity, the tiara has identified its wearer as someone with power, status, skill, or royal upbringing. However, before the half-moon crown design was referred to as a tiara, the adornment was known as a diadem, a word derived from the Ancient Greek diadeien, meaning “to bind around.” Traces of the diadem style were recovered in Ancient Egypt, where pharaohs adorned themselves with ornamented gold headbands. Our modern tiara is most similarly linked to the hair jewelry of the Ancient Greeks, with styles rooted in the archaic period. Crafted from various metals, early Greek diadems were adorned with intertwined twists and detailed rosettes, perching on the wearer’s head in a half-circle wrap. These jewelry pieces denoted one’s social status or crowned the heads of victors at ancient competitions.
Winner’s of the earliest Olympic Games would receive crowns of fresh laurel leaves as reward for their victory. In Rome, laurel wreaths were recreated with gold, and victors were bestowed with a precious replica of the natural element. The everlasting wreath then signified the winner’s eternal legacy. Recovered paintings and sculptures also depict diadems as fixtures on the heads of ancient gods and goddesses. For her feminine divine-themed Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 collection, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri accented the fashion with delicate, gold diadem headbands.
The first usage of the word “tiara” can be attributed to Ancient Persia. A tiara referred to the large headpiece worn by Persian kings, which were precursors to the Pope’s peaked crown that emerged in the eighth century. The Persian royalty specifically wore purple and white head adornments, colors which were reserved for the monarchy, and the tiaras themselves were only bestowed upon kings. Eventually, tiara’s moved away from their male-centric origins and became associated with the more delicate status-denoting headpieces, particularly in the half-moon design.
The tiara went out of favor during medieval times, because it was believed that the heads of royal women should always be covered, typically with a cone-shaped hat. When the Renaissance revived the aesthetics of antiquity, however, favor for the Ancient Greek and Roman iterations of the accessory came back in style among the elite. French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had a penchant for classical style and donned a gold laurel wreath for his coronation in 1804. His diadem influenced French fashion as upperclass women sought similar headpieces, called Spartan diadems, to accessorize their swept back locks that emulated the women of antiquity. Although Napoleon did away with royal status in France following the French Revolution, his neoclassical revival of the tiara cemented the style as a staple among the upper echelons of society for special events. Since the tiara’s re-introduction, many longstanding monarchical families in countries across the world have passed down collections of crowns and tiaras as emblems of family tradition–and none is more iconic than that of the British royal family.
Crowned in 1838, Queen Victoria can be credited with sparking the royal family’s collection and lineage of precious tiaras and crowns. Prior to her rule, jewels were added to a crown for a coronation, but then removed after the ceremony. She decided that a permanent crown be made and also sought other tiaras for her collection. Since Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, a legacy of heirloom tiaras has traveled through generations of the royal family. Although new additions are made, many of the most valuable pieces in the collection are pieces that Queen Victoria inherited and set with permanent gems. The tiaras are only donned for formal occasions, and there a number of rules that determine when, where, and even how tiaras should be worn.
There are plenty of famous luxury crowns in the collection, and one of the most popular is the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara. Worn in some of Princess Diana’s most memorable snapshots, the headpiece was commissioned by Queen Mary in 1913 and consists of 19 diamond arches and swinging pearls. Historically, tiaras were ordered to be made by the royal family, oftentimes as a gift to the reigning queen, but they’ve also been gifted from other nations to the monarchy. For example, the people of Burma gave Queen Elizabeth II an opulent tiara made with rubies to celebrate her coronation. The French luxury jeweler Cartier also had a hand in some of the newer additions to the royal collection. The Halo Scroll tiara, made by Cartier and worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day, was commissioned by George VI in 1936. And of course, there’s Princess Beatrice’s Queen Mary fringe tiara, which was at the most recent royal wedding of Princess Beatrice, the heiress wore the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, created from one of Queen Victoria’s diamond necklaces.
The tiara represents luxury and status, but the style isn’t just limited to the royal family. Tiaras are worn by teenage girls at coming-of-age celebrations such as debutante cotillions and quinceañeras. As a modern status symbol, they signify a rite of passage into womanhood. Similarly, American high schools often give prom kings and queens rhinestone crowns or tiaras to commemorate the night.
In pop culture, the sparkling headpieces are used to crown the winners of beauty pageants, and for the Miss Universe competition, there have been nine glamorous tiaras used throughout its 67-year history. While tiaras are most often bestowed onto someone for a milestone, they’ve also been worn as fun fashion piece for characters like Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly and celebrities like Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Hurley. Performers such as Madonna, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry have worn them on stage, too. And fashion houses like Givenchy, Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior have accessorized their runway shows with tiaras, showing that ornate hair adornments still prevail in modern times. However, their presence is never casual or laid-back. The reigning elegance and opulence of the ancient tiara still rings true when worn today, adding a royal grandeur to each look.END
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createdAt:Fri, 24 Jul 2020 16:58:06 +0000