Sunday, February 24, 2013

Focus on... Kent Jewels: The City of London Fringe Tiara

This lovely fringe tiara was one of the many gifts of Russian provenance and/or style that Princess Marina og Greece and Denmark (whose mother was a Grand Duchess of Russia) received on her wedding to the Duke of Kent.
The City of London Fringe Tiara
The tiara was created for Grand Duchess Vladimir around 1870 by unknown craftsman. It is composed of diamonds set in gold and silver fringes, and unlike many tiaras of similar fringe design, cannot be converted into a necklace.

After the Grand Duchess’s death in exile in 1920, her children sold some of her fabulous jewels to maintain their lifestyle.

The Fringe Tiara as worn by Molly Fink, the Rani of Pudukkottai
The Fringe Tiara was bought by Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, the Raja of Pudukkottai, for his wife the Rani of Pudukkottai (Australian-born Molly Fink). The Rani wore the tiara in a somewhat unusual manner, very low on her head. After the Raja’s death, Molly sold some of her jewels, including this tiara which in 1934 was acquired by the Corporation of the City of London.

The purchase was made with a specific goal: on 29 November 1934 the Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, and the tiara was a gift from the Mayor and City of London to the young bride. 
Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark wearing her Fringe Tiara (left), and Princess Marina wearing her mother's Fringe Tiara - and not the City of London Fringe Tiara - on her wedding day (right)
There is a common misconception that Marina wore this tiara on her wedding day: she didn’t. Instead, the Princess wore another tiara of (possibly) Russian origin – the Fringe Tiara of her mother, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (born Grand Duchess Elena of Russia). The two tiaras are very similar so the mistake is understandable.

The most obvious difference between Princess Nicholas’s tiara and the City of London Fringe Tiara is in the length of the short fringes: those in Elena’s tiara come just about 1/2 when compared to the taller fringes, whereas the short fringes Marina’s tiara are more than 3/4 the length of the taller fringes. Apart from that, the taller fringes in Elena’s tiara are pointier, while the City of London Fringe Tiara sports squarish ones. 
Princess Marina wearing the City of London Fringe Tiara
After her wedding, Marina never wore her mother’s tiara again, although since she now had a beautiful fringe tiara in her own collection, it is only understandable. The new Duchess of Kent had her fringe tiara slightly shortened by removing some of the fringes at the ends.

The London Fringe Tiara was her favourite when posing official photographs. Marian also wore it for many important occasions, including the Coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth. 
Princess Alexandra wearing the City of London Fringe Tiara on her wedding day
Princess Alexandra continued the tradition of wearing a mother’s tiara for a wedding day, and chose the City of London Fringe Tiara for her wedding to Angus Ogilvy in 1963.

She didn’t inherit the tiara though: the Duchess of Kent was of opinion that her daughter’s jewellery collection must be taken care for by her husband’s family. Instead, Princess Marina left the fringe tiara to her younger son, Prince Michael. 
Princess Michael of Kent wearing the City of London Tiara in its usual form (left and middle), and with added diamond riviere on top (right)
The tiara is now worn exclusively by Princess Michael of Kent. As with Marina, this is the tiara of choice for Princess Michael when she poses for official photographs. Sometimes, Marie Christine adds a diamond riviere to the top of the tiara, giving it more of a kokoshnik appearance - a nice tribute to the jewel’s Russian origins. 

I am a huge fan of nearly all Fringe Tiaras, and the City of London one is certainly not an exception. It’s in timeless design that looks good on virtually everyone.

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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