Sunday, February 17, 2013

British Royal Jewels: Princess Margaret's Persian Turquoise Tiara

One of the first posts I made in this blog was on the Duchess of Cornwall’s Turquoise Demi-Parure. Back then, I promised to cover to other turquoise parures of the British Royal Family – Princess Margaret’s and the Duchess of Gloucester’s Turquoise sets. So, today it’s the Persian parure’s turn.
The Persian Turquoise Tiara
Princess Margaret collection of turquoise jewels started when she was just a baby. The little York Princess was given a string of turquoise and pearl beads – the companion piece to her sister’s coral and pearl beads. 

The most significant addition to her collection took place when Margaret came of age, upon her 21st birthday, when her mother gave her a magnificent parure of turquoise jewels. The original parure consisted of a tiara, a necklace, matching pendant earrings, a large square brooch, and several hair pieces.

Princess Margaret wearing her Turquoise parure
The main piece was of course the tiara, In the language of precious stones, the turquoise stands for love and that message was supported by additional symbolic touché: the tiara incorporates the lamps of love, true-lovers’ knots, and triumphal laurel. 

The Persian Tiara was created by Garrard’s in early 1900s. At some point, it was acquired by Queen Mary although she isn’t known to have ever worn it. It was one of George V and Queen Mary’s presents to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York in 1923. 

The original turquoise tiara in Kokoshnik-like setting (left) and the modified version (right)
The original tiara was in Kokoshnik style but the Duchess of York had the tiara altered to remove the top diamond frame, giving the tiara a more open and contemporary look. Princess Margaret received the tiara in this form. Over the years, she added several more pieces to her turquoise collection, including a lovely diamond and turquoise bow brooch. 

Some of the later addition (such as the bow brooch) were sold at Christie’s, while the turquoise and pearl beads Margaret was given as a baby were inherited by her daughter, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. But the whereabouts of the main pieces from the parure (the tiara, the necklace, the brooch) is unknown. 
Some of Princess Margaret's turquoise jewels sold at Christie's
Some say it is in possession of either Viscount Linley or Lady Sarah. Others, however, maintain that the parure was only a lifetime loan to Margaret, which means it should have returned to the Royal Collection upon her death. 

Personally, I really hope the latter version is accurate; as a huge fan of turquoises, I want to see this magnificent tiara worn by royal ladies in future. 

Picture and information credit: Geoffrey Munn "Tiaras: A History of Splendour". 

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