Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dutch Royal Jewels: The Pearl Button Tiara

The origins of the tiara go back to the first half of 19th century; when Sophie of Wurttemberg married William III of the Netherlands (then a Crown Prince), she brought with her a large number of jewels.
The Pearl Button Tiara
The Pearl Button Tiara
Among them was a Strawberry Leaf Coronet which is purported to be the base of the Pearl Button Tiara. I used the term purported because the base of the coronet (as seen in Queen Sophie’s portraits) and the base of the current tiara look markedly different to me. If you squint hard you can sort of see distant similarities so I guess it’s possible the base of the original tiara was changed over the decades so much it’s barely recognisable now.
Transformation from the original Coronet to the Pearl Button Tiara

After Queen Sophie, no one really wore the coronet until the second half of the 20th century when it was altered for the wedding of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. The transformation was achieved by the addition of the pearl buttons – brooches that had also belonged to Queen Sophie. Incidentally, she had quite a few of those and they continue to be used extensively in different capacities.

The exact first appearance of the tiara is a bit of a disputed question. Princess Armgard of Lippe-Biesterfeld (mother of Prince Bernhard – Queen Juliana’s husband) wore a remarkably similar tiara for the pre-wedding gala for Princess Beatrix and Prince Bernhard. However, she had at least one other similar pearl tiara in her collection and the grainy photographs we have don’t allow to be absolutely certain Armgard wore the Pearl Button tiara. 

On the other hand, lending a tiara to her mother-in-law would not be out of character for Beatrix; indeed, she loaned the same Pearl Button tiara to Princess Simone (wife of Prince Aschwin – Prince Bernhard’s younger brother) on at least one occasion.
Ladies who wore the Pearl Button Tiara in its original form
The first definite appearance was a year later; princess Margriet chose to wear the Pearl Button Tiara for her wedding. Since then, it has been worn extensively by Queen Juliana, Princess Margriet and Queen Beatrix.

Queen Beatrix even chose this tiara for one of the most important days of her life – her investiture ceremony in 1980. While, as mentioned above, Princess Maxima had worn the star version several times after her wedding, the d├ębut of the pearl version took place during the State Visit to Brunei on January 22, 2013. Of all the wearers of the original version, my favourite is Queen Beatrix; her hair are just made for this kind of tiaras!

The Star Tiara
The star version of the Pearl Button Tiara was created specifically for Maxima Zorreguieta for her wedding to Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange. 
The Pearl Button Tiara with Stars
The Pearl Button Tiara with Stars
At the time of Princess Maxima’s marriage to Willem-Alexander, it was made known that her wedding tiara would be a composite of parts from jewels belonging to Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Emma and Queen Sophie. The stars used are Queen Emma’s and the frame is supposed to be Queen Sophie’s, although I’m a bit confused as to what part of the tiara belonged to Wilhelmina.

In any case, in 2001 the Dutch Court Jeweller used the base of the Pearl Tiara and added five of Queen Emma’s Diamond Stars to create a tiara for Maxima. She debuted it on her wedding day and wore the tiara to two other royal weddings – that of Princess Martha Louise in 2002 and Crown Prince Frederik in 2004. 
Transformation from Pearl Button to Star Tiara
Princess Maxima's Star Tiara
The star version of the tiara hasn't been seen since then so it’s probable the stars were removed and the tiara went back to its (almost) original Pearl Button form.

The Dutch jewellery collection actually consists of two sets of star brooches. One set contains five 10-pointed stars and the other – five 12-pointed stars. The former were used for the creation of Maxima’s tiara. The star brooches originally belonged to Queen Emma who had received them as a wedding present. Apart from these sets, there is another 12-pointed star brooch that belonged to Queen Wilhelmina.

Diamond stars were very fashionable at the time of Queen Emma’s marriage. Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary used to wear diamond stars in her hair, sparking a trend that spread across the Royal Houses of Europe. Queen Emma’s stars were purchased at about the same time, probably from the same Viennese jewellers who supplied Empress Elisabeth’s set.
Princess Maxima's wedding tiara
Princess Maxima's wedding tiara
The stars are very versatile; they can be (and quite often are) worn as hair ornaments, brooches, pendants, earrings, decorative elements (Maxima once pinned them to her headpiece), not to mention, mounted in a tiara. Queen Juliana once wore all ten star brooches on her sash during State Visit from Britain. 

Queen Beatrix, Princess Margriet and Princess Maxima have all worn the stars (although not all of them at once) on their sashes during official occasions as well. Maxima has also worn the double dose of stars – the tiara set with five of the brooches along with several stars on her sash.
The stars worn separately

I absolutely hate button and star tiaras, and this one is both. At the same time, I actually like how Queen Beatrix wears the pearl version and Maxima – the star version; they go really well with their respective hairstyles and, what’s more important, with their personalities.

Credit: royaldutchjewels.nl, Royal-Magazine 

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