Sunday, February 24, 2013

Focus on... Kent Jewels: The Diamond and Pearl Tiara

The Kent Diamond and Pearl Tiara is currently the only known major tiara in the possession of the Duchess of Kent. Its origins are a bit difficult to trace because there is no definite, confirmed information on it. Nevertheless, the data that is available is sufficient for a pretty sound guesswork.
The Kent Diamond and Pearl Tiara (current form)
Queen Mary purchased a small diamond bandeau from Gerrard’s in 1925. She made minor adjustments to it so that her famous Cambridge emeralds could be mounted on the top. She didn't wear it very often though and it largely remained in obscurity for the next couple of decades.
Queen Mary wearing her Diamond Bandeau (topped with Cambridge Emeralds)
In her will, the Queen left the bandeau in its original form (without the emeralds) to her daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. Marina isn't known to have ever worn it, preferring some of the other tiaras in her collection. Marina’s daughter, Princess Alexandra, did wear it several times. Alexandra seems to prefer delicate, lightweight tiaras and this one, along with the Diamond Circles Bandeau, was really perfect for a young Princess.
Princess Alexandra wearing Queen Mary's Bandeau
Continuing the tradition, Princess Marina gave the tiara to her own daughter-in-law, Katharine Worsley; Katharine opted to wear on the day of her wedding to the Duke of Kent in 1961. She also wore it on several occasions during the early years of her marriage, usually paired with her lovely diamond earrings (also worn on her wedding day). 
The Duchess of Kent wearing the original bandeau on her wedding day (left), and on other engagements (middle and right)
However, soon the bandeau disappeared never to be seen again. At the same time, another tiara emerged – the one known as the Kent Diamond and Pearl Tiara (and by many other names too). Although as already mentioned there is no confirmed information about the provenance of that tiara, a careful examination allows us to be virtually certain that it was created using the base from Mary’s Bandeau. 
The original Bandeau and the current tiara: note the similarities between the bases
The bases of both pieces feature identical alternating lozenge-cut diamonds and round brilliants. The diamonds appear to be of exactly the same size and shape, and the diamond-encrusted base support (both lower and upper) parts look very similar as well. In short, we don’t know what happened to the rest of Queen Mary’s Bandeau but that the base was used to create the Diamond and Pearl Tiara is pretty much a certainty.
The Duchess of Kent wearing the new version of the tiara on various engagements
The new tiara is in a fringe-like style. In consistence with the lozenge-shaped diamonds in the base, the diamond-encrusted fringes of alternating heights are also in similar form. The tallest fringes are topped by a single pearl each. Since the tiara was created, the Duchess of Kent wore it for most of her tiara appearances. It is understandable: bar from the Aquamarine Tiara and the Sapphire Bandeau – and both are pretty tricky to accessorise - she doesn't have any other tiaras (that we know of), and a classic diamond and pearl tiara never fails.
Lady Helen Taylor wearing the tiara on her wedding day
Perhaps for that very reason Lady Helen Windsor, the only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, chose to wear this Diamond and Pearl Tiara for her 1992 wedding to Timothy Taylor. I have to say, it really did make a perfect bridal tiara too. 

The Duchess of Kent has largely retired from public life and performs virtually no duties on behalf of the Queen, so we haven’t seen this (or any other) tiara for a long time. It is believed to still be in the family though.

If you are interested in Kent Jewels, you are in luck because we have been covering Kent Jewels the whole week. Why not check out the list of Kent Jewels already covered here (scroll to the end of the post)?

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