Friday, February 8, 2013

British Nobillity Jewels: The Spencer Honeysuckle Tiara

This Honeysuckle Tiara is a largely unknown piece that has belonged to the Spencer Family since 19th century. While not quite as famous as the Spencer Tiara, it's still an impressive jewel.
The Spencer Honeysuckle Tiara
The tiara is in Greek key pattern popular at the time of its creation. Diamond honeysuckles rise from the Greek key pattern, gradually decreasing in size from the centre to the sides. 

Over the years, this tiara has gone through extensive remodelling. The most significant changes include removal of the diamond-covered base, and the addition of several diamond-encrusted smaller honeysuckles on the sides. 
The tiara in of its earlier forms
The tiara’s first known wearer was Charlotte Seymour, wife of John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer. Some sources say she received the tiara as a wedding gift from her own family. Lady Cynthia Hamilton (wife of Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, and grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales) opted to wear the Honeysuckle Tiara for the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. 
Charlotte Seymour (left) and Cynthia Hamilton (right) wearing the Honeysuckle Tiara
The most famous wearer of the Spencer Tiaras was of course Diana, Princess of Wales – and she never wore this one publicly (although there are reports she might have worn it for a couple of private functions). 
The photo montage of Diana, Princess of Wales wearing the tiara
There is a picture of Diana wearing what appears to be the Honeysuckle Tiara but it is merely a montage and not an authentic photograph. Despite the fact the Princess never wore it publicly, the tiara is currently one of the centrepieces of the “Diana: A Celebration” exhibition. 

I prefer the original version of the tiara although it's not one of my favourite pieces either way. It's just too much a clash of patterns for my taste; I like honeysuckle tiaras and I don't dislike Greek key tiaras but the combination of the two leaves me cold. It's almost as if the tiara is suffering from an identity crisis.

Photo credit: © Arts & Exhibitions International

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